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Clinging to the second shelf - 62%

Gutterscream, May 23rd, 2005

Anvil Bitch’s sole release is one of the more recognizable efforts released by New Renaissance. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it’s any good and generally gets the deserved rap as a second shelf thrash record. First, deadening their possible destructive force is a shoddy production where the guitars are overshadowed by everything else. Second, it isn’t really all that destructive.

With their single, “To the Grave”, on the Thrash Metal Attack compilation, it was obvious (to me, anyway) the band had problems. The songwriting wasn’t bad, but vocalist Gary Cappriotti went beyond the college try to a mild, yet strained falsetto that is often too shaky to take seriously. Then when he showed up during the recording session of their debut, I couldn’t bring myself to buy this lp. I’d later find the cassette cheap somewhere.

The PA quartet seemed to write songs that are elementary to me. While most Golden Years (’83 til about ’86) thrash isn’t the pinnacle of technical songwriting and otherworldly thought, they fall to a more sub par standard yet and weren't able to exact the thrash flavor I could see they were striving for.

Instead of zoning on what’s average about this lp, let’s look at the brighter side. Some aspects trying to rescue this lp from mediocrity are most everything in “Lie Through Your Teeth” except the unimpressively simplistic solo, the voiceless pieces of “Life After Death”, the twin bass and backing vocal-charged chorus of “Argue With a Sick Mind” (which was originally “To the Grave”), songs “Arsenic & Cyanide” and “Fight For Your Life”, and the enthused percussion in the short mid-riff of “Shark Attack”. Side two’s opener “Maggot Infestation” sits on the fence with its jokey, slapstick-style main verse/lyrics (akin to something Sweaty Nipples or The Mentors would do) colliding with its dynamic chorus and finish. Seems like a lot of material, but is a whole twelve minutes of Rise to Offend’s lifespan.

The darker spots are as vivid, but exist more as a chain reaction of problems. Intensity is a prime ingredient for the style, but eludes a hefty portion of these twelve tracks, most noticeable in the central rhythms of “Argue With a Sick Mind”, “Time To Die”, “Anvil Bitch”, and “Vengeance of the Sword”. Chunkier guitar fuzz would’ve undoubtedly thickened the lp’s grit despite the derelict mix job thanks to Dark Audio Studios, but this wouldn’t save it from mostly run of the mill song sculpting. Songwriting, married to imagination, rear songs. An uneventful marriage = uneventful songs = uneventful album. While Philadelphia isn’t the thrash hotbed of LA or NY, is Capprioti with his unkempt and unfocused style the best that came walking through the door? Same goes for John Plumley, whose solos are as original and fresh as they are uninspired. As a whole, the musicianship, imagination, and songwriting on Rise to Offend are in critical condition, their pulse hinting at life with an occasional blip of the flatline.

While their hearts were in the right place, Rise to Offend still clings to second shelf standards, peering down at the supreme mess of the third tier.