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The Land of the Rising Sun was still a good place to live for the thrash metal fans in the early/mid-90’s with most of the 80’s practitioners continuing their careers with a few exceptions (Doom, Outrage) who changed their style towards more appropriate modern demands. For some old timers (Jurassic Jade, Gargoyle, United) the 80’s never finished for another couple of albums where retro thrash reigned supreme; so the appearance of Narcotic Greed and their full-length debut “Fatal” shouldn’t be considered a surprise having in mind what was going around Japan at the time. The band released three demos in three consecutive years and used the material featured on them for their debut which was indeed a “fatal” strike into the heart of Japanese thrash, by all means intended as a resuscitation therapy before anything else.
What’s surprising here is the audaciously high level of musicianship on display by a completely unknown act who mosh out like the few past transformational years have never happened. “As the World is Burnt” opens the album in an ultimately furious fashion with steel speedy riffs pouring over the bewildered listener to an overwhelming effect. This is 1988 once again when Forbidden released “Forbidden Evil” and Toxik came out with “World Circus”. This effort appears the missing link between “Forbidden Evil” and “Twisted into Form”: the Americans must have pondered over a similar prospect where they retain the speed by increasing the technicality as a stepping stone, before their full embarkation on more complex, progressive thrash. Well, they had apparently abandoned the idea, but the collective consciousness had brought it all the way to the Far East, and these youngsters (at the time) had decided to give it a go.
And a go they give it: “Greed” will make you “greedy” for wild reckless thrash with a thick technical edge made all the more vicious by the screamy chaotic leads. That same edge becomes even thicker on the surreal hectic shredder “Scanning Hell” where the leads surprisingly become meaningful and very melodic. “Lost Power” goes down on the speed, but the vortex-like riff-patterns carry on unabated creating plenty of dramatism the latter greatly helped by the very good high-strung clean vocals. “Injector II” (“Injector I” must have gotten lost somewhere in the studio) brings back the high-speed approach with shattering headbanging overcurrents, a technical riff-fest second to none with some tasteful melodic hooks thrown in as well. This number alone will beat you back to pure, but there’s more to come, first in the form of short explosive thrash/crossover named “Disruption” which is indeed a “disruption” in the technical speed/thrash machine witnessed so far, a direct ripping piece played just for the jumping around of it; second with “Future Kill”, a raging number with stinging lashing guitars which never let the tempo down even to mid-pace.
Almost time for a rest for the wicked, you would say, but not before the closing “Partial Existence” “partially” drills your brain with spiral-like twisting riffs again played at times with the speed of light, and one may remain quite mystified as to how the guys manage to keep this high-speed music flowing so unerringly entwined with these gorgeous technical decisions; not to mention the omnipresent leads which are all over the place, but in a very good, charmingly random, manner. In the long run one would probably find more similarities here with the aforementioned Toxik opus than with the Forbidden debut, the Japanese sharing the same focus on insane shredding with calculated technicality inserted at every opportunity thus astonishing the listener with the overflow of rhythms and hooks which co-existence may sound like a pile of slightly calculated chaotic “musings” with a definite hope for figuring them out on second (or every other subsequent) listen. Later the Dutch Expulsion tried something similar on their only album (“Wasteworld”, 2009), and almost succeeded in recreating the stylish hyper-active exploits heard on this “fatal” effort.
A musical “marriage” like that simply screams for at least one more strain to consolidate it, but unfortunately, in a vein similar to Toxik, the band decided to steer away from their high-speed beginnings. Were they able to produce a progressive thrash masterpiece along the lines of “Think This”? Well, not quite, but their sophomore album “Twicet of Fate”, which appeared whole seven years later, is a fairly decent cleverly-assembled slab of progressively-tinged power/thrash which has preserved some of the speed, reflected in 2-3 songs, but the concentration is on calmer compositions with less biting riffs and more sprawling elements (progressive meanderings, ballads/semi-ballads, etc.) ensuring more lasting interest from the progressive metal fanbase.
When the second album appeared, the guys had already regrouped under another name, Sadistic Eyes, and had recorded one demo of pure direct retro thrash, also released in 2001, but as of now neither of the two incarnations shows any signs of life although reportedly both formations are still active. From the line-up only the guitarist Hiroshi Yamashita pursues a more active musical career at the moment taking part in other metal acts: Grim Force, Hate Beyond, etc. It’s a bit sad, this creative standstill, because the guys clearly showed that they’re capable of producing some addictive stuff. I hope they’re not worried that another fatal overdose from their “narcotic”-induced thrash will finish us for good. They should know that what doesn’t kill you…