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This album has been largely forgotten, and for arguably good reason. Green was one of the more convincing examples of a thrash band weathering the '90s, not too far removed from Overkill's better output from the period like The Killing Kind. But Distortion? I never hear this album dropped in conversation, and even the band themselves consider it an exercise best forgotten. There are some expected carryovers from the ballistic debut and all-time masterwork Twisted into Form, so it has that much going for it at least. There was a pretty sizable gap between the last album and this, so some changes are expected, and the band was lucky enough to be one of the few US acts to sign with the GUN Records imprint. It could have been another classic.
Obviously it isn't, but there are definitely a few solid numbers lurking throughout this thing. The enshrouded, depressing atmosphere from the last album is taken to a new level here, and it totally chokes the potential. There just aren't enough straight-up bangers, with the band instead attempting to craft a more vocal-driven, morose slant with Russ taking command more than ever. He has always been implemented in a very upfront manner, and here the vocals are often layered again and again in hypnotizing cadences. Anderson still sounds good, unlike on Omega Wave where his voice was totally shot, but it just isn't what I want from this band. Locicero's warped leads and solos are still accounted for, but he seems to be forgetting the basics as he attempts to hammer out a survival plan for the shifting music landscape. "No Reason," for which an obscure music video was shot, really lays it all out to bare in and of itself. An excessively long atmospheric intro that opens the gates to half-baked thrash riffs and that flaccid, underpinned "bouncy" groove that never really sat well for the style. "Step by Step" eats this for lunch.
Positives? Well, there are some okay moments sprinkled about, but they are almost always counterpointed by poor ancillary choices. "Undertaker" sounds like it is going to liquify insides once it finally fires up (yes, another long "atmospheric" intro to mitigate), but once Russ comes in, here we go again with the same imbalances. "Rape" comes far closer to the goal, with some powerful, scattered rhythm work and a stronger emphasis on what fucking works, but even this song would just blend into the rest on the prior two records. It is still good though, as is the title track, which is really quite the deceiving little number that sets the listener into a comfort zone soon vacated. If the band was cogent enough to to keep the material flashing between faster, aggressive blitzes and mid-paced, murky breakdowns without devolving into constant stop-start swill we would be right on point with another strong effort from these guys. I suppose it just wasn't to be in this case.
And don't get me wrong, Green is far from amazing, considered a disappointment at the time of release that has been basked in a more positive light once it was realized that the band pulled the style off far better than most. However, Distortion is the rotten egg of the bunch, regrettably. I could cite the lazy euphemism that it sucks because it grooves, but hell that isn't even accurate. "Feel No Pain" from Forbidden Evil was in a similar vein but totally slays. This is like a glove slap to the face in comparison most of the time. Check out the aforementioned solid numbers and maybe "Hypnotized by the Rhythm," but the rest just doesn't hit the mark. Surprisingly, the production is huge, perhaps with the best guitar tone the band ever put on tape, but the material lacks the bite the sonic bark implies. Skip.
Wow, I can't believe no one wants to write a review for this one. Although I kind of understand it, due to the fact that this album (like it's follower ''Green'') has a nasty reputation of being the ''Black album''of Forbidden's career. Well...it's kind of true. But the ''enjoyment'' factor of this album still depends on how open-minded can you be.
With the arrival of the 90's scene that slowly (but not entirely) disintegrated the metal scene of those days, many bands were forced to split-up due to the label issues and lack of interest. On the other hand, many bands (with the success of Metallica's Black Album perhaps) felt that they need to adopt to the 90's scene and instead started to experiment in their genre. Just like tons of bands, Forbidden were no exception. Did they really change due to circumstances or due to personal progress is irrelevant, what matters, is that they kept going and developed their music in a whole new way.
Distortion really is nothing like it's two predecessors, although one still could easily draw many parallels between them. It distances from their BA prototype thrash and has new, much more dark and depressing elements that were also prominent on ''Twisted into form'' but weren't as dominant as they are here. Right from the beginning of the title track ''Distortion'' one can instantly hear the darker feel I'm jabbing about. Riffing is more heavy and less fast and complex, though the solos are probably even better than ever before (if that is possible). Russ almost totally abandons the falsetto screams now screaming in more raspier style and the odd chorus melodies demonstrate that Forbidden are now on a different road.
Half of the songs here still flirt with their older approach of writing while others show their own way of exploring the subjects of gloominess and darker feels. We have here some absolute thrash monsters like ''Hypnotized by the rhythm''. Without a doubt one of the best songs the band has ever composed, and also probably the best song on the album. Other songs like ''Wake Up!'', ''All that is'' and ''Rape'' also represent the thrashier bits of ''Distortion'' album. On the other hand we have songs like ''Feed The Hand'', ''No Reason'', ''Mind's I'' and ''Undertaker''. Mostly dark, groovy pieces (once again) soaked with the feel of doom, frustration and depression, that are just not something a fan of their earlier material would quickly adopt to. Nevertheless, they manage to pull is off marvelously well, once again showing their genius approach to write music, whatever the genre may be.
The instrumental section is also quite changed now. Tim Calvert, handling the guitar duties, together with the boss Locicero, and bassist Camacho, has the main impact on composing music here I believe, especially the gloomier part of it. They all exhibit an incredible ''gallery'' of solos and unique song-wrtting and I can't do anything else than bow to the masters here. Steven Jacobs controls the drums, also replacing Mr. Bostaph incredibly well and the standout part: Russ Anderson also experiments with his abilities. While he replaced his trademark screams with raspy high shrieks, he sings most of the album in only one range, almost not switching to a higher register. It may sound dull, but the vocal lines are even more sharp and melodic than before. One can clearly hear him stretching his throat high above the limits and trust me... that is not an easy thing to do. Once again, a superb performance from Russ.
In conclusion, this is a big step away from the Forbidden you probably know. It may take a few extra spins in the radio so you'll get used to it but don't expect any ''Chalice of blood''. Distortion certainly isn't comparable to it's two predecessors, but still proves to be a great album. Fans of Forbidden, check it out!