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A blast from my past, still a blast - 91%

Liquid_Braino, September 15th, 2013

I have to confess, for at least a year after I bought this back in 1989, I thought the singer was a guy. Female vocalists fronting full-on thrash assaults were such a rarity that I had just assumed that the vocalist was a particularly psycho male with a peculiar tone, not exactly high-pitched, but unusually unhinged. In fact, at the time, the only eminent thrash act I was familiar with featuring a female wailer was Sacrilege, and there was no questioning her gender, especially since my introduction to that band was Lynda's clean feminine tone gracing Within The Prophecy. There was also The (not so) Great Kat, but I try not to think about her. Sabina's hoarse ululations were a completely different and wilder animal though, and without a band photo in my bare-bones cassette sleeve, it actually never occurred to me that there were women out there that actually sang like that. Her name should have been a dead giveaway in retrospect, but I just sort of lumped "Sabina Classen" in amongst dudes with somewhat girly sounding names like Kim Ruzz, Kerry King and Grace Jones.

What an exuberant surprise though when I played it for the first time! A complete blind buy thanks to the promise of ferocity advertized by the album cover, I was immediately steamrolled by the sheer intensity of the opening title track without caring whatsoever about the fact that I couldn't decipher what the hell "Finished With The Dogs" was supposed to be about. It's a stomping motherfucker with nasty riffage, lunatic vocals and a ripping fast punked-out chorus. In other words, it's a perfect representation of the cover illustration.

Unlike the muddier engineering job of their debut, each instrument here is mixed razor sharp, allowing the riffs to be clearly discernible, with a guitar tone hovering somewhere between Reign In Blood and Eternal Devastation. In fact, Holy Moses' style and accelerated speed feel more influenced by Slayer and Destruction at this point than the Venom and Motorhead worship of their earlier material. Uli Kusch's drumwork is also more than commendable, and it's no surprise that he had a long and illustrious career after this recording.

The true highlight of Finished With The Dogs is, of course, "Current Of Death". One of my favorite thrash anthems, the frenetic pace combined with Sabina's delirious onslaught of anguish and pure rage is an intense adrenaline rush, the sonic equivalent of a bunch of lumberjacks going batshit with chainsaws in a forest reserve. I love Sabina's throaty screeches here, and I swear that if she actually were a guy and not the fine woman she is, she'd be sporting a dick that could plug up a sperm whale's blowhole. There's also that catchy sing-along chorus, giving the track immediate memorable status, and a couple of quick, entertaining guitar solos mixed loudly with an abrasive tone.

Although the majority of these tracks are high velocity speed-fests, there's a decent amount of divergences into different terrains, with "Fortress Of Desperation" being the most notable shift in gears. Slower and borderline haunting, it's a welcome addition at just the right time to provide a bit of respite from the barrage of fast riffing.

If there's one thing I would alter regarding this album, it would be the song order, simply because tracks three and four are a bit too similar, thus "In The Slaughterhouse", a solid tune on its own, suffers from being the twin sister of the prior track. The final two songs stand out by not having the bulk of their riffs built around the open E chord, and I personally would have switched one of those with "Criminal Assault" to spread out the variety. But other than that minor squabble and the moderately dopey chorus of "Six Fat Women", Finished With The Dogs is a brassy, sassy champion of the German thrash scene that holds up today, receiving more of my attention than most other metal output from 1987.