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As catchy as it gets, but inconsistent - 78%

failsafeman, November 28th, 2008

If this album were boiled down to its best tracks, I'd give that EP's worth of material a 90% or so; it's catchy, no-nonsense heavy metal at its best. Simple enough to not require much effort to enjoy, yet varied enough to not get boring after countless listens. Singer Chris Resch sounds a bit like Axl Rose, but with less edge to his voice, and he fits the music perfectly. His two brothers/bandmates (yes, three brothers and a drummer make up the band) provide backing vocals as well, and as might be imagined they blend wonderfully together. A metal Hanson? Obviously there is NWOBHM influence, but The Kill has a flavor that's distinctly American; that sort of rockin' flair heard in bands like Warrior or Vicious Rumors, but without the power metal trappings those bands had. Riot's Fire Down Under made modern (for 1988, anyway) might also be a good comparison. The band hails from Alaska, and there is a definite sort of colder, "distant" feel to the music, especially on the aptly-titled "Last Star". The mood has a general melancholy feel to it, despite the pace being upbeat most of the time. The production is great, with the guitars having a slight fuzzed-out sound to them and everything right where it ought to be in the mix. Really, there's not much more to the band; songs are catchy, with hooks constantly catching you just before the last one loses its pull, bass licks popping in at just the right intervals, a new riff coming in as last one gets old, and no song outstaying its welcome.

Well, not quite. The first four songs are awesome, and after "Madness Ascending" you're eagerly awaiting the next track; unfortunately that track is a cover of Golden Earring's "Radar Love", which in one of those bizarre metal historical coincidences Omen also covered that same year on Escape to Nowhere, and so did the little-known Repression over in Germany...I have no idea why, it's not a good song. Pandemonium do a respectable job of "metallizing" it, but polish a turd and all you've got is a shiny turd. Aggravating the problem further is that it's the longest fucking song on the album, clocking in at just over five and a half minutes; Pandemonium's strength lay clearly with shorter, catchy songs, so this choice is just incomprehensible to me. SKIP! "Driving Away" is short at least, but pretty weak; sort of a banal rock song that doesn't ever really do much or even attempt the mood and catchiness that made their good songs so good. SKIP! Ahhhh, and with a sigh of relief we come to the title track; it opens with a great riff, and we're back in catchy heaven. The pounding verses tell of a poor kid getting drafted and sent off to Vietnam or somewhere and told to kill, but he doesn't have the will...anyway, the bouncy main riff contrasts well with the jackhammer verse chords, showing Pandemonium understands songwriting quite well when they try.

"When it Comes to the End" is sort of a ballad, it's not horrible but not very good either. Sort of sentimental and cheesy; possibly an attempt at a single, aiming at the 80s hair metal demographic. Even this is way too heavy and fast for that, though (luckily for us). I don't skip it every time. Up next is a workmanlike cover of Black Sabbath's "Snowblind", which they speed up a tad too much. The production does make the song sound good though, and Resch's voice has a kind of Ozzy-ish nasal quality to it. The Resch on bass does a good job on the licks, too. Anyway, it's one of those covers that you can take or leave; doesn't butcher the original, but doesn't come close to its quality either. Black Sabbath covers rarely do. The final track is a bit iffy, better than the ballad but probably the worst of their good songs. If they had ended the album on a strong note I would've given the album a better score, but as it stands the entire second half has only one really good song up to the standard the first four set. Five really good songs, one decent song, one mediocre ballad, one mediocre cover, one poor song, and one shit cover; as I said, those five songs would've made a fucking killer EP, but the whole thing ends up rather anticlimactic by the end.