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From my point of view, "Worlds Neuroses" always stood in the shadow of its predecessor. There is no shame in that in view of the extremely high quality of the thrash metal masterpiece called "Protected from Reality". "Worlds Neuroses", the fourth album of Living Death, was a strong output and it is still a pleasure to listen to the songs which are assembled here. The well-established band did not try to sell us a second "Protected from Reality". On the contrary, some of the tunes possessed an experimental touch without cutting the metallic roots of the group.
For example, the B side of the vinyl started with two songs that revealed a certain hardcore affinity. I do not only focus on the straight lines of these songs that were alternately driven by the guitars or the bass guitar. Both the chorus of the title track and that of "Bastard (at the Busstop)" were characterised by polyphonic hardcore shouting. Speaking of the vocals, lead vocalist Toto had also changed his style. He did no longer try to scream in the high ranges. I was a little bit frustrated, because his more or less unique singing had been a very specific feature. No other German band had a singer that had eaten a shrill alarm siren for breakfast. Nevertheless, I was although reassured by the fact that the danger of getting tinnitus while listening to Toto was banned.
Living Death could still be assigned to the speed / thrash metal genre, but they had expanded their musical spectrum. Apart from the above mentioned tracks, the band flirted with traditional metal ("Tuesday") and revealed a previously unknown affection for a slightly crude kind of dark rock ("On the 17th Floor" or "Down"). None of the pieces lacked of heaviness or charisma so that the guys were not at risk to be blamed for any kind of inappropriate lightness. Additionally, true speed metal tracks also shaped the content of the album. It was surely no coincidence that one of them kicked off the full-length. The opener showed the speed metal genes of the band while offering really sick lyrics. Just read the text of this song and you will probably share my point of view that only a deranged brain can give birth to such lines. In terms of speed, especially "Schizophrenia" took roughly the same line. Its nervous bass guitar and the whirring guitars as well as the thunderous drums created a crashing piece with remarkable breaks at the interface of punk and metal.
Hopefully, my description has made quite clear that "Worlds Neuroses" could not be seen as a "copy and paste" album. "Business as usual" was also not the motto. Of course, the speed / thrash scene at the end of the eighties could no longer be compared with that of a few years earlier. It therefore came as no surprise that Living Death was seeking new ways. Nonetheless, the development of the band deserved special attention. A song like "The Testament of Mr. George" celebrated the marriage of sombre ambience and compositional depth. Yet the varied songwriting was not the only advantage of the record. Due to the fact that both the sound engineer and the producer did a good job, the full-length was built on a strong foundation. Therefore, I admit that you find the three best songs of Living Death on "Protected from Reality", but the constantly high level of "Worlds Neuroses" has its charm, too. Finally, I must confess that I also liked the cover artwork of the album, for whatever reasons. Yes, the album stood in the shadow of "Protected from Reality". But you know that staying too long in the sun can cause sunburn.
Though I've always had a soft spot for Living Death, enjoying all of their full-lengths to some extent, it wasn't until Protected from Reality that the band had flirted with greatness, and I was really hoping that the fourth album would continue in that direction, adding that last layer of paint to a band who had long deserved some degree of success. Well, Worlds Neuroses was not quite what I had in mind, with a more playful nature found in many of the tracks, but it still manages to score with a few of its catchier pieces. The production is quite good, perhaps the best in their career, but there are a few elements which have shifted poles, and not always for the better.
For one, Thorsten Bergmann the 'screamer' has by this point almost completely disappeared. He'll occasionally scale up to a pathetic window into the past, and he can clearly manifest the old pipes when needed (chorus of "Schizophrenia", for example), but he really tones it down for much of the effort. Also, the band uses a metric ton of gang shouts here, including the first song, "Last Birthday" with its goofy sounding chorus, taking the edge out of what would otherwise have been a decent, speed/thrash opener (though the lead is great). "Die Young" is extremely catchy, with Bergmann adopting an Exodus-like vocal pattern over a great mid-paced riff, even though the actual singing is far different in tone. I really enjoyed the melodic mood of the chorus here, dense and challenging enough with the spike of melody that arrives, and a nice micro-lead bridging over to the second verse. It's pretty tame thrash, but memorable.
The rest of the album is somewhat mixed. "Schizophrenia" sports strange lyrics about 'leading your erection', with the gang shouting 'Morbid brain, Morbid brain!', and Dieter Kelch's bass thundering to lead the way. A pretty odd track, but not bad. "On the 17th Floor" starts with a thrash/doom swagger, and revisits it for the chorus, reminding me a little of "Screaming from the Chamber" from Metal Revolution. "Down" is peppy but forgettable, while the title track has a funny sounding chorus, pumping bass lines and some sweet if sparse guitar lines in the verse. "Bastard (at the Bus Stop)" is an almost Tankard level of ridiculous, but not as well written, but both "Tuesday" and "The Testament of Mr. George" have their moments. There's also a pretty weak track called "Sacred Chao" which no doubt helped lead to the confusion the band would experience when several of them broke away to form the short-lived Sacred Chao. Hey, the previous album had "Eisbein (mit Sauerkraut)", so every album gets one...
No, Worlds Neurosis isn't Protected from Reality, and what might have become another tech thrash beast had curbed its own ambitions to something cleaner, tidier. Personally, I rather miss Bergmann's screaming demon persona, it simply doesn't rear its ugly hide on this album enough. I was longing for the screaming of Metal Revolution, applied to the band's improved, dense and fierce thrashing, like I got in 1987, and that just doesn't happen enough here. Instead, we're treated with a few corny and memorable tracks that stick to the ear just often enough to revisit them. At the same time, I could actually understand why many more casual thrash fans might enjoy this album more than any other in their catalog. It's fairly accessible without Bergmann's excess, and the variety and horseplay makes for a friendlier experience.
Worlds Neuroses is a bit more experimental, almost comical in a way, than Living Death's other albums. Those are a bit more aggressive, more angry in tone. This particular album doesn't seem to take itself very seriously, at least in part. Just take a look at the song titles. Last Birthday and Bastard (At The Busstop) are prime examples. The music is prime German thrash metal, but the lyrics song titles are kind of goofy.
With that being said, this is in NO way a bad album. In all actuality, this is a very good album. Musically, you get quality thrash metal! Plenty of great riffs, pounding drums that have enough double-bass kick to satisfy most anyone and a bass guitar that, while slightly in the background, pulses along nicely The vocals are done well, and fit the music perfectly. Toto mixes it up with aggressive shouts, decent singing, howling shrieks and there are gang vocals mixed in on a lot of the tracks, as you'll find on most any thrash release around this time.
IMO, the highlight tracks would be Last Birthday, Die Young and the title track. I really don't feel that there is an altogether weak track on the album. The whole thing is quality thrash metal, maybe with some odd lyrics, but they don't hurt the album in any way.