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This band are the least known technical/progressive thrash entity in the annals of US metal. There are hundreds of acts who never went beyond the demo stage, but this one had two full-lengths and one EP released, and yet not many are those who have heard about them. Which is a shame as the guys were one of the pioneers having started as Critical Condition in the distant 1983 although their early style was more towards the hardcore side. This early spell didn’t amount to much, but under the new moniker, acquired in 1986, they accumulated three demos and a split within the matter of two years their consistency paying off as their first official release became a fact in 1989. Unlike the works of Watchtower (“Control & Resistance”) and Toxik (“Think This”) released the same year, this effort wasn’t so much about labyrinthine progressive complexity, but was more on the heavy, stomping technical thrash side with a Bay-Area flair (Testament’s “New Order”, above all) on the more dynamic moments, also recalling another 1989 masterpiece, Nasty Savage’s “Penetration Point” on the more stylish riff applications.
The debut was a really strong showing providing an ample ground for the band to build on, and come up with something even more impressive. It was the beginning of a new decade which came with its new musical demands, but in Forced Entry’s case this didn’t mean a radical shedding of skin. However, it also meant taking an interesting, eclectic turn, still deeply immersed in the thrash metal idea, but branching out into the unexpected in a vein quite similar to the Finns Airdash (“Both Ends of the Path”) and Stone (“Emotional Playground”), all released in 1991. All the three opuses shifted from the rigorous formula into a more progressive direction which may have delineated their fans including the Forced Entry ones. At least the opener “Bone Crackin’ Fever” doesn’t promise any drastic alterations the guys thrashing with vigour with quirky technical riffs intercepting the moshing melee the leads being another brilliant support with their dazzling near Shrapnel pyrotechnics. The choppy, stop-and-go rhythms of “Thunderhead” remind of the debut and the past few Testament exploits, only more intricate and less predictable, with some aggro-motifs timidly scratching the surface those cancelled by another blistering lead performance. “Macrocosm, Microcosm” starts bewildering the listener from the get-go with sophisticated intricacies, and the rhythm-section only becomes more labyrinthine later on with eccentric mid-paced motifs leaping all around in a charmingly chaotic fashion.
“Never a Know, but the No” is a fairly cool ballad again following the Testament models in the trend with the heavy parts and the more attached lyrical singing, not to mention the outstanding lead performance the guy easily matching Alex Scholnick himself every bit of the way. “We’re Dicks” deserves its title being a brash hardcore-ish explosion, somewhat a reminder of the guys’ very roots as Critical Condition, having nothing to do with the album’s serious progressive tone. A filler like that can always be excused especially after the following “Apathy” is such a consummate technical thrasher with sweeping crescendos and swirling vortex-like riffage circling the fan with stylish passages galore including the staple stop-and-go gimmick. “The Unextinguishable” is a pounding minimalistic piece with a steady mid-paced main riff its stride “broken” by a cool technical dash which occupies the middle also bringing a hectic quasi-doomy passage after it the latter taking up the whole space in the second half. “As of Yesterday” is the next in line display of technical virtuosity the guys speeding up initially until the trademark heavy riff-patterns and the striking leads return, leaving some space for the technical exuberance at the end. “When One Becomes Two” is a consistent technicaller sustained in a semi-busy mid-tempo manner which gets more jarring with more fluctuating rhythms mid-way the woven mazes even touching Coroner’s “Mental Vortex”; the highlight here and the finest example the band have produced of their attractive less ordinary approach. And also the last one since the closer “How We Spent Our Last Summer” is a friendly, stripped-down thrash/crossover frolicer partly saved by the fine lead participation.
That last piece also clings towards the filler side making them two here, but in the company of eight pretty strong numbers one shouldn’t frown too much about their presence. The band have given more freedom to their imagination including on the several less conventional riff-formulas encountered, but kudos should be paid to them for staying true to the old school canons in these transformational times, trying to expand upon the template with a few more volatile, less disciplined strokes. The few angrier notes detected also hinted at the guys’ intentions on producing something post-trashy and more quarrelsome in the future, and the fanbase had to wait for four whole years in order to hear the fruit of those intentions. Alas, this 4-track EP would be a total waste of time even for the post-thrash lovers the band trying to blend their vigorous classic thrash approach with the established numetal vogues; not the best “marriage” under the metal sun which logically led to the band’s demise.
It’s debatable whether the album reviewed here was the band’s peak; it was by all means a step forward compared to the rigid, more orthodox debut, but left a feeling of airheadedness which could have been smoothed out on a potential future recording. Not much to complain here, though, as the whole scene was heading in a similar direction, and Forced Entry could have done much worse than producing a worthy, if not even superior, follow-up to an already good effort. The last “shore” they reached had better be forgotten, though, as this “land” had already been discovered by more diligent, and more persistent “explorers”.
I think the moment I first laid eyes on the horrible color context of the Forced Entry sophomore album As Above, So Below, I was already smitten with disgust. Having found their debut Uncertain Future a punchy, bone crushing debut of dynamic mosh-favorable thrash metal loaded with catchy grooves, and one of the true hopefuls of Washington State alongside Sanctuary, I was actually eager to hear how the power trio would progress. Progress they did, if you look at the album as a strict work of musicianship, but sadly, the band have included a few stupid moves here which, perhaps in some attempt to bridge the gulf between artist and audience, seem more worthy of some campy street thrash band as opposed to the titanic wall of groove sound these gentlemen had patterned on the debut.
As Above, So Below does start off with one of its strong points in the effortless smackdown of "Bone Crackin' Fever", and they were wise to place this first, with its engaging momentum and harmonic spew, sometimes fast and then sometimes slow once the band breaks to the mid paced chorus thrash riff. The production is quite refined from Uncertain Future, and the instruments all just as percussive and polished, and this is one of the few tracks worthy of the predecessor, if you don't mind the goofy lyrics. "Thunderhead" proceeds with some steady inclines and declines of thick, chugged riffing, but the riff patterns sound pretty similar to the first song, and ultimately its just not put together as well, though hardly a pestilence upon the ears. Beyond this, the strange clinical riff that inaugurates "Macrocosm, Microcosm" into a funky, bass driven rhythm reminiscent of Prong heralds that this is not necessarily going to be the same Forced Entry we knew before. Of course, if you enjoy Prong, and can imagine a Beg to Differ era track with this more aggressive vocal style in the vein of Testament or Metallica, then have fucking at it, sirs.
"Never a Know But the No" is a soothing ballad that develops into some limited thrashing, much like a "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", "The Ballad" or "Cemetery Gates", though not even a fraction as memorable, and despite the positive opening thrash below a dipping bluesy, wild lead, "We're Dicks" is fucking retarded. Was having a track called "We're Dicks" supposed to endear you to the 'beer drinking moron metal crowd'? The song is stupid, the lyrics even worse, and its the sort of drivel I'd expect only of a Billy Milano project. After this steaming disappointment, "Apathy" is a welcome relief, a barrage of stormy thrash which seems like a refined spin on the debut's formula for lurching grooves and oppressive atmosphere. The lyric patterns aren't great, but at least it's not 'We're a Bunch of Fucking Dicks'. "The Unextinguishable" is likewise pretty good, but "As of Yesterday", despite the see-saw like carving rhythms suffers from rather trite bluesy, emotional vocals and a weak structure. "When One Becomes Two" is yet another track that should have been placed somewhere near the front, since its got some great guitars and reminds me in total a little of the Boston band Wargasm, who put out a decent debut.
Lastly, because "We're Dicks" was not already as dialed in dumb as they come, we get the goofy, exciting "How We Spent Our Summer Vacation". Now, this track does benefit from a few half decent, grooving rhythms, but the digging thrash of the verse is destroyed by the absolutely fucking stupid lyrics, which might have appealed only to some over-testicular 13 year old trying to impress his skateboarding friends. I mean, read this shit:
'Jack Daniels goes down fine
a lot smoother than any wine
hey baby with the big 'ol tits
come impale yourself upon my dick'
I mean, this is not Tankard we're talking about, or Atrophy's loving but stupid beer roster in the now, not so legendary "Beer Bong", but an act of confusion and idiocy in the wake of the more serious lyrical elements found on this album. Had it been funny, well perhaps I might overlook its crudeness, but its not, and neither is the song all that great. Its as if by their sophomore album, Forced Entry had already given up on thrash metal, perhaps another telling sign of how the genre would crash and burn about within a year or two here in the States (the negative ripples then coasting off to Europe, South America, and so forth). 'Get fucked up! Get fucked up!' Thanks for preaching us the course of our adolescence, my friends.
As Above, So Below is an inconsistent bitch at best, often in heat for mating season but just as often flaccid and nukeworthy from the collective metal memory. Had this been reduced to just an EP, with "Bone Crackin' Fever", "Apathy", "The Unextinguishable", and "When One Becomes Two", it would have made for a reasonable follow-up to Uncertain Future that delivered on that promise while the band gestated some new and better ideas for their own uncertain future. As it stands, the cover art is not all that is ugly about this music, and though the band would somehow manage to rattle off an independent, shortform release some years later, this was the true death of their once bright ambitions.
At the beginning of the 90s lots of bands experimented new forms of metal, mixing together different genres with not always convincing results. The death metal was taking the dominion after almost a decade of great thrash metal and right this genre was submitted to several changes. Forced Entry contributed to this mixture of sonorities and if the first album already displayed quite evident influences from the progressive, with this As Above So Below, we reach the complete maturation of this style. Now the progressive influences are far stronger and they are melted down with the few remnants of the thrash of the glory days.
Since “Bone Cracking Fewer” we can notice the strange riffage and the stop and go. The furious restarts are often mixed with grooving parts and often the guitars pull out weird, progressive notes. The tempo changes are the most remarkable thing here. The vocals have remained the same of the past with the classical thrash metal tonality that doesn’t shine in originality. “Thunderhead” follows a more technical thrash metal way with lots of tempo changes and the never too fast pace. The riffs are quite good and the production is always sharp, even without being explosive or that powerful like the one we can find on Heathen’s Victims of Deception, for example. The bass drums are a bit too low in the mix but the snare is quite pounding. However, the production privileges the guitars and that is normal because they give that progressive or technical touch.
“Macrocosm, Microcosm” has far more evident progressive parts inside, beginning from the bass sound and the guitars whistles. The groove is stronger and not that great. However, I have to admit that other bands have done worse things with this style and the one by Forced Entry is not that annoying. Surely, don’t expect a fluent sound because everything is fragmented and broken into pieces. The stop and go are multiple and with “Never a Know but the No” we follow a reflexive road. The arpeggios and the lead lines are far more important this time. The structure is the one of a classic thrash metal semi-ballad but it’s a bit different for the way the riffs are done. The progressive touch is always present but the track always manages to conserve the right melody.
“We’re Dicks” features a more dynamic structure with out of the blue up tempo in crossover style and sudden grooving mid tempo parts. “Apathy” doesn’t completely follow this more impetuous vein and the mid-paced sections are always there to give the sound a more modern (for the period) approach to the thrash metal. The long sections are ultra slow and the riffs are sluggish too. To give a hint of power we find “The Inextinguishable” with those well-played tempo changes and the catchy guitars riffs, full of that crunchy style. “As of Yesterday” can be boring because excessively slow, however the “faster” tempo parts are there to break a bit the monotony. They are always full of groove viruses and “When One Becomes Two” displays a more energetic riffage, without being that fast.
The final “How We Spent Our Summer Vacation” is far more impulsive if compared to the rest of the album. If we take it for what it is, this song is a simple thrash/groove one with a bit more of energy but nothing more. The tempo remains a faster version of the classic mid-paced one but the solos are better this time and the bass is always audible. Well, we needed a more “direct” track to end this album because after awhile this progressive/groove thrash formula was showing its limits in ideas, menacing our patience. However, this album is worthy of a simple listen to understand how the thrash metal was dying in that period. All in all it’s a quite easy album, nothing spectacular, nothing terrible.
Forced Entry hail from Seattle, the home of many great thrash bands, and they are no exception. With their second full length album, they unleashed a technical beast that is still thrashing to this day.
All 3 members of the band are insanely proficient with their respective instruments, and this goes especially for Brad Hull, the guitarist. He seems to be able to do anything with his guitar that he so pleases, there is an insane amount of shredding in his solos and his use of harmonics is very interesting in a couple songs (Bone Crackin' Fever; Macrocosm, Microcosm). The bassist, Tony Benjamin, is also extremely skilled with his instrument. His use of slides makes some already awesome riffs even better. Colin Mattson's drumming is another highlight of the album. The way his playing follows what the strings are doing and doesn't just keep time makes this album much better than any generic thrash competitors.
The lyrics in most of the songs are pretty standard thrash fodder, but a couple of the songs are comedic, and the lyrics cannot be ignored. The final track (How I Spent My Summer Vacation) provides a kick-ass chorus to sing along with in the car with your buddies.
The record begins with a very ominous introduction, and then proceeds INSTANTLY into some of the coolest riffing you'll ever hear on a thrash album. As Above, So Below has a great combination of speed, technicality, and heaviness, with the latter taking the largest role. This album just begs you to bang your head for it. All of the guitar solos on the album are beastly; they are solos that actually sound cool and don't just make you go "Holy shit, listen to how fast he can shred!". The strict use of inverted thrash beats as opposed to standard is another notable thing about this album and is especially prominent in the verse riff of We're Dicks. There are, however, a couple tracks that could use some more interesting riffs.
Overall, this album leaves you asking for very little aside from MORE FORCED ENTRY! I would highly suggest this album to anyone who enjoys the more technical side of thrash. Hell, I'd suggest this record to anyone!
This is a pretty tasty little thrash album with good riffs and production but suffers from failed attempts at being technical half the time and boring meandering.
The album and band for that matter do seem to be taking a few cues from another technical thrash band from further down the west coast, Forbidden. Certainly on their first album, Uncertain Future, they try to be technical and interesting and just die on their ass trying. Here they don't exactly match Forbidden but they certainly pull off a few interesting touches here and there and the riffs are a fuckload better than on their first album.
The highlights are the first 2 tracks "Bone Crackin Fever" and "Thunderhead" which are just complete riff onslaughts. GREAT thrash metal. "The Unextinguishable" is really good too and the track "We're Dicks" is HILARIOUS. "Cos' Im a Fucking Dick!" "Fuck Off or I'll Kill You!".
There's tracks on here tho like "Apathy", "As Of Yesterday" and "Never a Know but the no" which are painstaking to listen to. Full of guitar wandering without any direction and boring riffs. These tracks are the most melodic and technical which shows they were better off just sticking to riffs and thrashing. If they had for all of the songs this may have been a very good album.
In reflection half of this album is decent to good thrash and the other is sleep inducing. Download the highlights and enjoy the riffs.
Forced Entry are one of the many non-spectacular thrash bands that came out in 80's and really had nothing special to offer, and this album is a great example of that. The opening track, "Bone Cracking Fever" is actually an awesome song. It's fast, thrashy, and pretty damn catchy. Alas, it's mostly downhill from there. "We're Dicks" is a mildly amusing song, with classic lyrics like "I wish I may I wish I might kick your fucking ass tonight", and "Fuck off or I'll kill you." The intro riff to Microcosm, Macrocosm is pretty interesting, and "How We Spent Our Summer Vacation" is another great song with funny lyrics and a kick ass guitar solo, but that's pretty much all this album has to offer. The rest of the album is boring and totally forgettable. FE are decent musicians, and display some nice technical prowess through the album, but their songwriting needs a lot of work. Unless you can find this in a "Used" bin for 5 bucks or less, I'd recommend shying away from this mediocre attempt at thrash.
Forced Entry... another member of the crowded "also ran" regime that polluted late 80s thrash. I was initially drawn to these guys by their uber-cool name and the song "Bone Crackin' Fever", which is IMO a minor thrash classic. Indeed, BCF stomps a mudhole in my ass, with monstrous discordant riffs, beefy guitar tone, and shout along vocals to spare. Unfortunately, everything is downhill from there....
Apparently, FE's claim to fame was their technical proficiency... I can't deny this. For a 3 piece, they made a lot of noise, and songs like Thunderhead and As of Yesterday shred through aggressive riffs in odd meters like clockwork. Technical music ceases to kick ass when the technicality impedes a songs progress, and this is where Forced Entry fails... side 2 is a blur of boring riffs that go nowhere. These guys could only sustain a musical hardon for 3 songs... Bone Crackin' Fever, Thunderhead (which out-Exhorders Exhorder!) and We're Dicks, their own version of Beer Bong.
So if you like volatile thrash give As Above So Below a try... it's not exactly Darkness Descends but it's not exactly Time Does Not Heal either! One word review: frustrating.