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Forced Entry’s debut wasn’t really what I would call a masterpiece, it was more a reflection of the passion and good talent of 3 young Seattle thrashers, who refused to follow the conventional ways of most of their peers. Their demos from the mid-80’s offered something refreshing and entertaining, pioneers for those days when technical power thrash wasn’t developed yet. But their first LP came late, when a bunch of other groups already made something in that style. For the second album, these guys didn’t seem to have special plans or crucial intentions to change their music. It was made when the 90’s arrived and thrash was still strong, soon it started to show serious symptoms of weakness, though. Would these guys manage to record another decent release?
Well, the answer to that question might be positive. However, you can notice this stuff is musically weaker than what they did on “Uncertain Future”. Most of these songs are quite competent, sometimes unpredictable, including numerous cool riffs, satisfactory complexity, hyperactive tempo changes and ambitious structures. On other hand, they lack the roughness and intensity of the debut, at times also lack a clear serious direction. The Seattle trio put emphasis, once again, on the difficulty of the composition arrangements, the progression/alteration of the leading guitar lines, even melody but I’m afraid the result ain’t that bright. They put all their passion and effort on this, somehow it’s not working. Particularly on completely forgettable tunes like “Apathy” or “Thunderhead”, which feature some elaborated instrumental sequences and sharp riffs, though soon becoming inconsistent and repetitive. Maybe if they didn’t put so much attention on trying to make their music advanced and technical, it would’ve been better. Because the way they attempt to provide these numbers of difficulty becomes exhausting after the first 4 or 5 cuts. But among all this chaos, there’s some moments of clarity. Some tracks, like “Bone Crackin’ Fever” or “Macrocosm, Microcosm”, might not be incredible or truly well-constructed; plenty of rhythm modifications, suprising alternating structures and instrumental efficiency, though. These guys even take a break from their stubborn intentions to play something casual, scruffy and immature. “How We Spend Our Summer Vacation” and “We’re Dicks” (whose titles say it all) are dumb fun, uncontrolled and silly, but remarkably executed. Even if they’re leading nowhere, at least they offer something surprising. Thrash and jokes, what a combination!
Good songs, bad songs. The record combines tenuous talent with ordinary mediocrity, but in the end that’s what makes Forced Entry’s sound enjoyable. Their music didn’t evolve or improve here, it got stuck in the same mistakes and handicaps that kept their debut from being memorable. Although their attitude, passion and energy are admirable. Actually, their style is quite characteristic if you compare it to the uniform patterns of most of late 80’s technical thrash. Fortunately, the Seattle thrashers didn’t get obsessed with cheesy melody and mellow harmonies. And Tony Benjamins’ voice keeps these tracks away from that inoffensive trend, making them sound very harsh and heavy. He gives them a very tough presence, his tone will remind you of other rough vocalists like Ken Elkington, Chris Astley, even Chuck Billy. With the exception of “Never A Know, But The No”, the only pseudo-ballad of the album, on which Brad takes the vocal duties (check the cameo of Alice In Chain’s former frontman Layne Staley in the videoclip). Hull’s guitar work was the leading force of the band, in its own way splendid. The group didn’t manage to define a very solid complexity that made sense, but this guy had the potential and necessary abilities to make something bigger than they did. When you listen to his vibrant guitar lines, you can realize he’s not just one more outrageous thrash player. His technique is astonishing and imaginative, although on this record he started abusing of pedal effects excessively. Inspired by Dimebag Darrell maybe? Remember this was made back in 1991, when Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell” achieved already a crushing success. About Colin Mattson’s drum parts, let’s say he did a good job: no virtuosism, no extraordinary details. He shows certain improvement from the first record chaotic double bass-drum rhythms, now they’re more precise.
In conclusion, a decent album that didn’t make history, didn’t seriously rivalize with other much more talented bands of technical thrash, either surprise anybody. I have some predilection for forgotten vintage records and I can say this is one of the most amusing from the subgenre, though. Recommended for Acid Reign, Sanctuary, Depressive Age, D.A.M., Slammer and co. fans, whose ears ain’t that strict or perfectionist. Unfortunately, this was the last Forced Entry full-length. They released that forgettable EP, “The Shore” in 1995 and performed some gigs in 2002. Apart from that, they have reminded quite inactive. Some rumors about a possible reunion exist. But I would rather be cautious and not expect much, after so many disappointing thrash comebacks...
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.