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Death Mask - Split the Atom
Death Mask’s ‘Split the Atom’ forms part of the ever-important fabric of 1980’s US speed metal. These guys have recently reformed, and decided on re-releasing this classic piece of US metal domination, so I thought it was due for a review. This one’s received semi-regular plays from me for the last year or year and a half, and I gotta tell ya - it always sounds fresh, ballsy and energetic. First of all, I want to mention how awesome the track ‘I’m Dangerous’ is - it’s like some awesome speed metal attack amalgamation of early Venom, Motorhead, Brainfever and Living Death with a US metal edge. The opening and eponymous track isn’t bad, but I reckon it’s left in the dust a bit, especially considering the tough, British metal influenced riffs and the heart-ripping solo, that combine excellently with brutal, aggressive and attitude-drenched lyrics with blood curdling screams. Killer track. Check it out on you tube or something right now - and be sold!
Other strong tracks can be found too. I’m also pretty fond of ‘Lust for Fire’ - which features plenty of spontaneously shrieking vocals from the capable Steven Micheals. Riffage and tone in this one sometimes reminds me of Omen, circa ‘Battle Cry’ or something. There’s some dirty ‘heavy metallish’ guitar solos, and plenty of pounding drums. The militaristic pounding toward the end of the track is probably the best exemplification of these drums. This one also brings a strong comparison to Living Death - like their US equivalent or something. ‘Tortured Mind’ is an awesome fast-paced speed metal attack that draws very strong comparisons to Fatal Violence (one of my favourite bands of this year, hands down); very thrashy, and relentless here, with some cool and typically thrash metal lyrics. Perhaps even more Fatal Violence-like is the following track ‘Nightmares’, which features cooler riffs, and some plentiful high-pitched shrieks by the energetic Micheals. The combination of evil throaty shouts, screams, pounding drums, and Venom-esque riffs is a winner in this balls-out heavy metal attack!
Basically a dirty, early US speed metal attack with ample reasons to compare to Fatal Violence. Rough and ready solos abound, and the thing is just dripping with ‘tude. Might take a little while to grow, but most thrash and speed fans should be able to enjoy it. Fans of shit like Holy Terror, Living Death and Fatal Violence should definitely give this one a whirl. It’s a lot less refined than the powery overtures of Agent Steel, Iron Angel or Deadly Blessing, but more in the dominating speed thrash camp similar to a lot of the British/Euro stuff of the same period (Tyga Myra, Blood Money, Backwater), and in a few songs like ‘Hell Rider’ there’s a bit of a distinct hardcore punk rock feel to the riffage and overall writing. Badass. This shit would make great party music, but even greater drunken skate music. Tear it up! Beware of Hell-Rider!!!!!!!!!!!!