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Nasty Savage's "Indulgence" is one of the divine albums which embody the fascinating liveliness and the wealth of the early thrash metal scene. The pioneering spirit, the will to explore new dimensions, the courage to create something different - "Indulgence" offers these elements in abundance. Apart from this excellent feature, the full-length shows that the band members had already achieved a more than solid degree of musicianship. Probably due to this fact, Nasty Savage did not head for the most extreme approach. They had a more clever idea. The band just wanted to form a unique product and it was successful. Already the cover seeks its equal. Instead of trying to shock with a bloodthirsty image, the band chose a surrealistic, atmospheric artwork. But this was just the first sign of the band's independence.
Nasty Savage unleash their full force with a very special mixture of morbidity, weirdness and pure thrash metal power. The band proves its admirable talent for creating more or less eerie melodies. One might say that a lot of our musical "heroes" are able to create this kind of melodies. I agree, yet I like to emphasize that Nasty Savage master a further discipline in a highly fascinating manner. They present a remarkable number of bulky riffs without neglecting the creation of a good flow. Quite the opposite, these riffs are so cleverly arranged that they create this flow. The closing instrumental "?" represents this skill of the band in the best possible way. But nobody needs to wait that long in order to realize the outstanding qualities of the protagonists. Already the impulsive opener shows the interplay of smooth parts and gnarled riffs - and I may not forget to mention the expressive vocal performance of Nasty Ronnie.
He belongs to the rare species of metal divas who are slightly egocentric but not overly pretentious. His high-pitched, unexpectedly appearing screams and lines - and the music as well - sound less fragile than on the debut while adding an insane touch. But he also impresses with his normal, less psychopathic voice. For example, the rigorous and voluminous vocal performance on "XXX" ennobles the aggressive neckbreaker. This lump of gold had previously been released on a Metal Massacre sampler, but the here recorded version is much more demonic than the original. Especially the extrovert appearance of the busy yet stoic double bass gives the song a new, highly intensive character. The mid-paced, somewhat spine-chilling "Hypnotic Trance" is also driven by this mercilessly throbbing double bass. Thanks to the almost perfect production, each and every instrument comes into its own and the drums profit most from this situation. Nevertheless, the guitars do not need to hide their light under a bushel. Inter alia due to their full sound, the full-length guarantees a timeless joy of listening from start to finish.
Another important feature are the lyrics. Nasty Savage deal with very different topics. Similar to bands like Destructor ("Bondage") or Venom ("Lady Lust"), they have an affinity for rather unusual sexual desires ("XXX"). But they also offer lyrics about historical topics, in particular World War II. "Inferno" is not only a fitting title. Its lyrics summarize the hellish confrontation in a very concise manner. By contrast "Stabbed in the Back" is about a modern theme, juvenile delinquency, to be precise. But the title track tops it all. Its pictorial lines like "My eyes trace the horizon / Winter brings another death to a year" match the almost philosophical approach of the song and create, also in combination with the excellent aforementioned artwork, a mysterious aura. Needless to say that Ronnie's charismatic contribution plays an important role as well.
Maybe with the exception of the slightly lacklustre "Distorted Fanatic", all songs provide very convincing arguments to sell your soul to thrash. The demonic whirlwinds like "Incursion Dementia" or "XXX" and the less rapid yet ironclad steamrollers such as "Hypnotic Trance" shape an album that does not show any major shortcomings. Despite a certain touch of progressiveness, Nasty Savage always keep an eye on accessibility and songs like the title track offer a brilliant arrangement, smooth and heavy at the same time. "Indulgence" is not the best thrash album of all times. But from my point of view, it has achieved cult status, because it opens the gate to a seldom heard yet extremely suspenseful kind of thrash. All of you who have not listened to this masterpiece so far, are summoned to rectify this omission as soon as possible. You will not repent it.
1986 was a year in which thrash metal finally made its presence known: loudly. Bands like Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica were churning out some of their best work (as it would turn out, some of the best work in the genre to date), and a wealth of newer bands were unleashing previously unheard, violent and energetic sounds. Seeing that Florida's Nasty Savage were already half arrived at this style on the s/t debut in 1985, it wasn't a huge leap for the band to shift their focus towards an overall harsher follow-up. This transition occurred through three notable alterations.
The first is through the increased thrashing of the guitars, which brought them in line with the standards of Anthrax, Exodus and Nuclear Assault while abandoning most of the classic/power metal overtones of the debut. The second transition is the vocals of Nasty Ronnie, which seem far more reigned in. He still visits the shrill heights from time to time, but most often works in his 'nasty', aggressive middle rage. And he's not often fucking around here (except near the 'climax' of "XXX"). Which leads us to the third mutation of Nasty Savage: the lyrics. The band have gone from tales of "Metal Knights" and the "Dungeon of Pleasure" to more serious fare here (song titles "Incursion Dementia" and "Distorted Fanatic"), and topics that deal in the day's big ticket thrash lyrics issues, rather than sex slave fantasies or the walking dead. Add to this the very bizarre choice of an abstract landscape for cover art, and you've got a more mature band. Like many metal bands of this period, Nasty Savage had grown up, which is most often (but not always) a positive thing.
At times, it can become difficult to determine which of the first two 'incarnations' of Nasty Savage that I liked more. The innocent, well measured fuckery of the debut, or this more emotionally tense and scarring thrash band that approached their art with a renewed affection, the determination of a ballistic missile as it sights its one target? In the long term I've grown fonder of this album and Penetration Point than the debut...the tunes are simply that much more crushing and resonant. And there is no buildup to this. No warning. The band break into "Stabbed in the Back" almost immediately and you can hear the transformation and sense of purpose here, a swift kick in the pants for the band's Bay Area or New York peers to signify that the rest of the country was not far behind when it came down to the thrashing. The song maintains the good, clear production of the last album; the flurries of guitar melody and loud and present bass tone. But the writing shows an advanced complexity, and the riffs have a cruel spike to them which I'm guessing kept every local gator well clear of this band's practice space.
If I'm painting too grim a portrait of Indulgence, let me assure you that the band is still fun through the sheer pomp and violence of their ministrations. "Divination" is a peppy, mid paced rager with more bounce than a pair of unstrapped breasts on a roller coaster, Ronnie taking the opportunity to create a ghostly shriek before the bridge similar to King Diamond (or Realm, who would come later). "XXX" is even more raunchy, a lament, or rather, a celebration for all the innocent lost to smut through their adolescence. Yeah, Nasty Savage still commit their dirty thoughts to the music, but here there is a purpose. A 'cautionary' tale. Title track "Indulgence" is vibrant and acrobatic thrash/speed metal with Ronnie's vocals exploring both their lesser and upper ranges, and some of the band's best lyrics yet:
There's a cyclone in your mind, it's throbbing at the end of a lie
But here and now, life is a great indulgence
Hell is paved with good intentions, but this is our time of joy
Play with fire, love the flame, this is our time of joy
"Inferno" is a WWII thrash piece with some sick, serpentine twists to the leads and melodies that seethe over the blitzkrieg of the hammering riffs (some of which would later be dubbed 'death metal'). "Hypnotic Trance" is another of these power thrash hymns, with some excellent drumming and leads, while "Incursion Dementia" throws a little nod back to the roots power metal of the band's waking years, one of the best and most bad-ass tracks on this album. "Distorted Fanatic" is also quite good, thanks to its evil Slayer-like opening melodies and the tightly spun, engaging thrash dynamics of the verse guitars. The album ends with an untitled 9th instrumental track in which the musicians take a few more liberties, but it's hardly the escapist shredder; the band could very well have included vocals here.
While I'm completely on board with the progressions the band has made from the debut to Indulgence, I'd have to say the album remains level to that in terms of its overall, lasting quality. Like Nasty Savage, it still sounds quite fresh today, though many other thrash and death metal bands have released superior product since. This was by no means a first class thrash metal album for 1986. The architecture is not as brilliantly structured as a Master of Puppets, and it's not nearly as wild or aggressive as a Reign in Blood or Darkness Descends. But once you get past that refreshing foam on top of the glass, to the bulk of the beer within, Indulgence would represent one of those first, fulfilling gulps you take on your plummet towards vomiting and unconsciousness.
Highlights: Divination, Inferno, Incursion Dementia, Distorted Fanatic
Indulgence, the epitome of perfection in the thrash universe. Nasty Savage nailed it on this release, honestly I can’t find one thing to bitch about on this album. Indulgence keeps the balance in-between, pure fast as hell thrash & mild tempo traditional metal, which says a lot about their musicianship.
Well as for the production--epic--the guy who did the mastering on this did an excellent job & definitely knew what he was doing. Every track is crystal clear & every instrument is equally heard, nothing is drowned out by another instrument, which is a great sign.
As for the players themselves they did as good of a job as the mixer did. The riffs are a-plenty and original, take a listen to “XXX” & you’ll know what I’m talking about. The rhythm adds great fills as well, from the crazed double bass throughout XXX to the snare/tom mix through Stabbed in the Back. But what essentially is my favorite aspect is Nasty Ronnie’s vocals, & how crisp & clean they sound throughout the album, and this high to low trade-offs he uses frequently, my favorite example of this is in Divinitation.
Overall a great release, these guys definitely knew what they were doing, to bad this record was one of many looked over in favor of $hitallica’s Master of Puppets.
This is a pretty good album, though there are points where it just about becomes unlistenable. Though when it's on, it's excellent, occasionally thrashy speed metal.
The best... Stabbed In the Back. Total thrash mayhem. "Giving blood... knowing that you have AIDS." "Killing a man... over a twenty dollar bill." Haha what fun!! The rest of the album, unfortunately, does not live up to that mighty standard. The rest is okay, except at times Nasty Ronnie tries to be King Diamond and ends up sounding very badly effeminate. For example, see the title track. Also, my greatest complaint... what the fuck is up with the song XXX? Sounds like there's a baby in there. That's right, a fucking infant. Who the fuck puts an infant into a song about sex? It would be a decent song except that shit is unlistenable. Some things do not belong in metal, and babies are one of them.
The rest.... well, at times the songs end up sounding pretty similar, so it's hard to pick a real highlight or low point - Distorted Fanatic has a nice groove riff that is almost thrash metal, and Hypnotic Trance (despite the really silly lyrics) is pretty good as well. The ending is a cool instrumental... question mark, the bane of all mp3s everywhere because that's not something you can name your file.
Overall, worth getting. If you like your cheese piled high, you'll dig the fuck out of this.