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Fast and Brutal - 99%

shouvince, December 23rd, 2008

‘Spectrum of Death’ is no longer an unheard-of, overlooked metal album from the past, but a perfect embodiment of 80s thrash-metal. Over the past five or so years, it has been garnering so much well-deserved acclaim in the metal underground that I feel critics ought to get rid of the album’s ‘Most-Underrated-Album’ tag to something along the lines of ‘Iconic-Thrash-Metal-Album’. It really doesn’t make sense now by calling it ‘underrated’ because quite frankly the band’s popularity has risen so immensely that wherever you seek help for thrash-metal recommendations, Morbid Saint’s ‘Spectrum of Death’ will be the first to be mentioned. I can draw parallels with another band, Witchfinder General, which found tremendous fan-support only years after the band became defunct. Posthumous band worship isn’t an uncommon occurrence these days. Like many other metalheads, the lackluster of contemporary thrash metal drove me on a quest to go back into the past and unearth some of the finest masterpieces in this genre. I rank ‘Spectrum of Death’ the best thrash metal album in the twenty years since its unholy conception.

With ‘Spectrum of Death’, Morbid Saint doesn’t reinvent the wheel of thrash metal, but it is its simplicity and its sheer adherence to the true essence of the genre that makes it such a brilliant album. I can sum it up in two words – Fast and Brutal. Now you may think that these two often spoken words are synonymous with most thrash releases, but trust me, you haven’t heard ‘fast’ and ‘brutal’ if you haven’t listened to this album. It’s fucking fast and fucking brutal. What else do you need in a thrash album? Morbid Saint perfectly combines two seemingly different styles (European and Bay-area) of thrash metal into their own brand of thrash. You’ll know what I mean when you hear Pat Lind’s vocals kick in when he asks you to ‘Lock up your children’. The vocals are raspy and bear a certain similarity to Mille’s from the early Kreator albums. It is by no means a mimicking of vocal-styles; Pat is in a league of his own. In my opinion, his evil rapid-fire screeches are some of the best in the genre. The vocals are perfectly complemented by the rest of the band. The musicianship is astoundingly brilliant. The guitar-riffs are so fucking precise with its execution, that it creates this sonic thrash onslaught second to nothing you would’ve ever heard. That is coupled with Lee Reynold’s amazing drumming, which again is ‘fast’ and ‘brutal’.

Some people have commented on the production by calling it below-par. I will have to disagree with those comments because I feel the production is spot-on with the rawness, the entire mix and the whole 80s vibe that you can feel once you play this album. The rawness is a very important ingredient which completes this album. Imagine ‘Spectrum of Death’ being produced in today’s world. Doesn’t sound too enticing now does it? That’s what I mean by the production being spot on the album. Like I said earlier, it captures the true essence of the 80s thrash metal genre.

I refrained from dissecting each song up and praising it to death because that would tempt you to listen to certain tracks first. It wouldn’t do justice to these 32 odd minutes of relentless, furious thrash because it deserves a full 360 degree spin on your player. From the addictive intro riff of ‘Lock up your children’ to the neck-snapping ‘Scars’ to the hellish screams at the end of ‘Beyond the gates of hell’, the album encompasses whatever there is to hear in thrash metal. You could call Morbid Saint, a one-hit wonder or a band that lost its way due to unfortunate circumstances, but there is a no denying the fact that when it came to delivering the goods, they were fucking fast and fucking brutal. This is going to remain a timeless classic thrash metal album.