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10 songs and 20 minutes is all it takes for Birth A.D. to make their stand, with their debut EP Stillbirth of a Nation. Comprising of former members of such bands as Krieg and Incantatio, one can be sure that this will be one hell of a ride, with no compromise on the ability on the individual instruments.
With the sound of a phone ringing in the background, the band starts their onslaught with the punk-ish riffs and vocalist Jeff Tandy's punk-styled vocals, a half shout/half spoken style spitting out the lyrics, advocating Equal Opportunity before ending the song as suddenly as it started, with the same ringing of the phone in the background. The raw energy and the aggression is shown through the excellent execution of the individual instruments. While nothing particularly technical, drummer Mark Perry alternates between punk beats with thrash metal beats and blast beats, combined with the simple riffing of Brian Morrison, causing the music to reek of infectious energy. The simple riffing does not mean that the songwriting is compromised as Birth A.D. writes infectious and anthemic choruses on songs such as Bring Back the Draft. On Cause Problems the band also makes use of a 911 call and the sound of police sirens in the background to emphasise the chaotic mood of the song and lyrics, and the surprisingly catchy tune is a suitable song to mosh and vent out aggression to. Add to this the muddy and raw production quality, fitting for such high energy music.
Of course, the songs all mean nothing except good fun crossover/thrash metal to those who do not bother finding out the meanings behind the songs, yet Birth A.D. has simple and straightforward messages to send across through the lyrics of the songs. Songs like Failed State with the 2 repeated lines display the band's disgruntled view of the current state of affairs, while Kill Everybody display the sheer aggression and unhappiness with the stupid people who are taking up unnecessary space in this world - the perfect soundtrack for walking behind people who love walking at an extremely slow pace (Too many people in the world today, Fat and stupid and they get in the way!). And of course there are the more politically sensitive and "threatening" lyrics, on the cover song Blow up the Embassy, to show that their hatred for mankind is not directed to anyone in particular, but to the world in general.
Certainly a fun record to mosh to, especially for fans of hardcore punk/crossover/thrash metal genres.
Thrash, the offspring of punk and heavy metal, exploded in the early 1980s with fast songs using metal riffs in punk songs. Years after it echoed into silence, retro thrash brought back the style, but until Birth A.D., no one has captured the spirit.
Not surprisingly, people who make tributes to a genre from within do better than those who make tributes from outside looking in. Birth A.D. have grasped the sardonic, spicy, indignant attitude of the original thrashers -- skateboarders who liked both punk and metal, so a fertile ground for crossover hybrids -- and updated it with modern influences.
Exemplary are the Slayer-style tremolo riffs, the blocky SOD-style riffs made melodic in the style of DRI's "Four of a Kind," the punkish verses that give way to fiery metal choruses. The band craft their songs as small, specific statements which reflect in structure the lyrics and emotions given by the topic. The results explode.
Describing it as a cross between SOD's "Speak English or Die" and DRI's "Four of a Kind" gives a general picture of this band. Riffs are played fast and precisely in the metal style, but use the "punk mode" of an open interval followed by chromatic and melodic intervals; the rest is mostly doubling-back on already-used power chords. Songs are verse/chorus with interruptions for bridges that are driven by lyrics coming to a point of argument and delivering a summary, with some breaks for samples or other subject matter powered changes.
Although the riffs on this album will sound blocky to a metalhead, they are within the best spirit of punk and use a good degree of metal precision, echoing some of the progressions used by bands as diverse as Slayer, Anthrax and Exodus. What really drives each song is the vocals, which are delivered with a grim-jawed masculine voice in chromatics and then conclude on choruses in a melodic accent to the guitar riff. These songs are deliberately simple and by keeping every element in service to their meme, strikingly effective.
This CD has ten songs including a cover of the Fearless Iranians From Hell, another Texas thrash band, "Blow Up the Embassy." Each song is distinctive and unique for both its riffs and the way its energy expands outward and doesn't contract. They prefer to leave songs feeling "rough" or unfinished to getting too close to a polished, empty statement.
Unlike retro thrash, Birth A.D. bring out the best ideas of the genre over its lifespan and so surpass "retro" to become a living embodiment of its spirit. This isn't a return to the 1980s; it's the present time adapting this versatile genre to a new set of questions. And with that comes some killer music.