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“Shotgun Justice” is yet another notch in the belt of these wild and boisterous Canucks who, as time progressed, merged from the road of speed metal onto the thrash highway. Razor had lost longtime vocalist Sheepdog just a year after releasing the annihilating “Violent Restitution” and replaced him with Bob Reid, making his first of three appearances as spokesman for the Canadian Institute of Breaking Your Goddamn Face. Exchanging singers is often a hair-trigger process that has more than once caused excellent groups to implode or to fizzle out, but “Shotgun Justice” wasn’t a bullet to Razor’s dome. Reid himself is a personification of the bellicosity smoking out of the band’s assault like steam from a kettle left on the stove for way too long; it helps Razor isn’t in the business of pussyfooting around, either.
Reid’s tone is more raspy and aggressive than Sheepdog’s, and having this kind of vocalist running parallel to the structure of thrash serves to amplify the tenacity. He is certainly more limited in tone and ability, but the harsh manner is really all the album needs to sound like a killer. Although I find his performance on “Open Hostility” his best, Reid’s shouting sounds like he’s been verbalizing Razor’s resentment since the group’s inception; few appear this natural in new surroundings. The lack of variety and raw skill which had been Sheepdog’s modus operandi (especially on “Violent Restitution”) is equalized by the unrelenting unfriendliness pouring from his throat, and I can’t find a reason to throw him under the bus for the stuff he shows here.
Razor is still Razor, though that shouldn’t come as breaking news. “Shotgun Justice” runs on what was left over from the seismic slaughter of “Violent Restitution”; Razor has no need for reaching into the bag of tricks and pulling out needless musical gimmicks. The riffs are almost always scorching to the rhythm of wild percussion hammering underneath the thrash-based sequences and solos, but Razor’s knack to make each song seem fresh had not yet expired. “Electric Torture” and “United by Hatred” show the group using riffs bands like Exodus have been trying to figure out as though they were calculus problems. “Shotgun Justice” also excels in the mid-tempo department, especially “Brass Knuckles” and its crunching, face-breaking riff which makes every note feel like a fist to the jaw. Rosie O’ Donnell isn’t this heavy.
“Miami” and “The Pugilist,” the longest ones here, boast more compositional parts and more room for Razor-styled whippings; they are my favorites, for sure. I think the tracks are better-rounded than those found on “Open Hostility,” which is where my nostalgia goggles come into play. Whereas that record’s tracks showed variances in quality, “Shotgun Justice” runs smoothly on a stable plateau. Short bursts of vehemence like “Cranial Stomp” or “Stabbed in the Back” eyeball the record’s longer tracks without blinking. The production captures the grit that most thrash beyond the golden age painfully skips over, and the collective sound issuing from the slicing guitars and smashing drums is pure ferocious noise. Perhaps not the best Razor album, but it does the trick. It’s violent, it’s Razor, it’s “Shotgun Justice.”
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
1988's "Violent Restitution" presented the penultimate point of aggression and creativity in Razor's discography; a fast, evil tour-de-force that still hangs on as a strong thrash favorite today. Things must have gone well for the band then. So much so in fact that they clearly attempted to unleash basically the same thing yet again on their sixth studio release, "Shotgun Justice". But it would all be for naught. First off beloved frontman "Sheepdog" McClaren, "fed up" with the industry from what I understand, left the band, leaving Dave Carlo the only remaining original member. Second, a label switch (Steamhammer to Fringe) and a lower budget. Could Carlo and the new boys make due with what they had and give us yet another quality heavy-hitter. Unfortunately, not really.
The production is the same aggravating quietness that dragged down "Violent Restitution", only unlike that record which managed to overcome that weakness with riffs, aggression and character, "Shotgun Justice" is already dead in the water thanks to highly monotonous songwriting and the same incessant (though cool at first) guitar tone. Dave Carlo does what he always does, spitting up an encyclopedia's worth of riffs but unfortunately rarely leaving a major mark with many songs. His brother Adam's bass is a bit less up front than is was on the last record, though solid and dependable all the same with a few moments for him to shine. Rob Mills' drumming equally still proves to be fearsome and dependable, though highly simplistic and often as repetitive as the rest of the music. Then we have Razor's new at the time frontman, Bob Reid. Admittedly while Sheepdog's grisly barking and falcon screams are sorely missed, Reid more than makes up for it with his own grotesque, raspy form of commanding barks and sudden yells. His gruff style nicely heaps on an extra layer of heaviness to amp up the overall quality, sealing the deal and allowing for a welcomed spot for him in the group's ranks.
"Shotgun Justice" follows the route of "Violent Restitution" by dishing out a large number of songs ranging typically from 2-3 and a half minutes in length and sporting similar riff work. Additionally, the lyrics have been changed up from tales of bar fights and horror movie mayhem to more socially relevant topics ranging from vigilantism and big city crime to personal violence and bands selling out, all presented with the group's notable sarcastic demeanor. However, this is partly what helps kill the record. Aside from the lousy production, "Shotgun Justice" just isn't as fun as the album is clearly tries to replicate, "Violent Restitution". Instead it often feels dry, boring and highly repetitive.
Not to say it sucks however; this is still Razor after all. Sure a number of songs are pretty uninteresting and skip-worthy ("American Luck", "Burning Bridges"), but we still have some good moments here and there. "Brass Knuckles" starts off with a kind if annoying mid-paced opening, but then segways nicely into far stronger fast territory. The title track beings with some better mid-paced riffage before going into the speedy verses and memorable chorus. Most shorter, punchier numbers on here you gotta love, like the aggressive as fuck "Electric Torture" or the meaty, catchy brutality of "Cranial Stomp", a personal favorite. Then we have the cooly chaotic verses and unhinged chorus of "Parricide" with lyrical content I really dig. Finisher "The Pugilist" has a pretty catchy groovish thing going in the verses, not the mention the song ends with vocal highlight courtesy of Mr. Reid.
Overall, "Shotgun Justice" tries to do what "Violent Restitution" did but fails. Most of the time it's boring, the production is again weak, and a number of songs just leave no mark despite Dave Carlo's efforts. A fair number of songs still pop though, not mention Bob Reid is a solid replacement vocalist. A decent album, but at the end of the day it's better to just put the shotgun down and walk away.
I would definately rate this album 100%. I just think it would unreasonable. Think about it, how can you rate an album 100% while being objective? Impossible. This is my favorite pure thrash metal release of all time. Bought the original tape back in 1990 after seeing the official video for 'American Luck' on Much Music here in Canada. I had previously heard the Custom Killing LP, which is their least enjoyable effort (for most fans/people anyway). But here we have a totally different band than what Razor was during most of the 80's. All the original members, except for Dave Carlo of course, were gone. Here we have a new 90's version of Razor. New singer Bob Reid. New bassist Adam (Dave's little brother), and new drummer Rob Mills (nickname Quick Snare). The last two also played on the previous LP Violent Restitution. Big changes in line-up, sound and attitude. That Violent Restitution LP quickly buried the two previous efforts (Malicious Intent '86 and Custom Killing '87) because of it's sheer ferocity, speed, violence and take no prisoners approach. Now with Shotgun Justice we get the same approach, multiplied by 10. Hard to imagine how you can replace such an awesome vocalist as Stace 'Sheepdog', but they seem to have found the perfect replacement. A man named Bob Reid whose voice is filled with hatred and attitude. Sure he doesn't have Sheepdog's range and charisma, but boy do Carlo's lyrics sound mean when screamed out through Reid's lungs. Here we have a band that has metamorphosed into this ugly antisocial, angry, hatefilled, revengefull monster. This is the fast, violent, brutal shit. Think Reign In Blood. Think Pleasure To Kill. Think Bonded By Blood.
Dave Carlo churns out the most insane thrash riffs like his life depends on it. Mills' drumming is so fast and tight he probably has no clue as how he managed to play like that. Think Gene Hoglan playing at his fastest on albums like Darkness Descends. Sounds like they were in an extreme hurry. It's spontaneous, urgent and strictly to the point. Only one way to go, straight ahead fast as shit.
Electric Torture might be the ultimate thrash song in existence. Stabbed In The Back talks about all the stupid idiots who turned their backs on the thrash scene by wimping out (like 95% or more of the 80's bands did back then). Lyrics deal with everything from living life the way you want to, quiting your job (Burning Bridges), kicking people in the face (Concussion), rectifyings wrongs by violent means (Shotgun Justice), dealing with stupid people, laws and anything wrong and even killing an abusive drunken father (Parricide). All with big doses of well placed sarcasm.
The music is fast, furious, tight as hell and ferocious. The performances are awesome. You'll feel exhausted after listening to this album. It's not technical, but the way the riffs are played out and the way the songs are structured is nothing short of brilliant. It all flows perfectly. It's not diverse, but it gels completely. A bit like AC/DC. It goes only one way, at one speed, and no one could do it better.
The album sounds really raw and live. The recording budget was probably low. But no other band could have made it sound as good. It's one of those albums that cannot be replicated or matched. It's the ultimate in thrash.
Now i think i will reconsider and rate this one 100%. It just deserves it.
This was my introduction to the thrash titans known as Razor. That being said my opinions may come across as a little biased towards this album, but trust me when I say that this album is really fucking good! I can’t think of any other album that personifies the genre of thrash metal as well as this one. Every song is filled with aggression, speed, and attitude, this album rarely lets you take a breather and basically has it’s foot planted firmly on your throat the whole way through.
The riffs on display here resemble Slayer and Motorhead with some punk thrown in. Like I said thrash!, and the songs are kept short and to the point, the band never really strays from the verse/chorus/verse structure. Dave Carlo’s guitar work is impressive his riffs are fast and violent. The only weak point with the guitars is sometimes the solos run into each other, and honestly they feel thrown together.
Any trace of fantasy styled lyrics from the old days are thrown away in favor of even more socially conscious lyrics. Topics range from gun control, (Miami) to the self destruction of the metal scene, (stabbed in the back) and getting even with people (shotgun justice). I personally love Bob Reid’s voice, it fits this style so well. Bob has a much more raspy almost hardcore like tone to his voice than what Stace had, and I for one think Bob Reid’s voice is better suited for Razor’s brand of violent thrash.
Rob Mills is behind the drum kit and he never stops, his endurance is stunning! Rob plays at pretty much the same tempo the entire album and his double bass work and fills are very tastefully played. Adam Carlo’s bass thumps away in the background, thanks to the mix you wouldn't really know he was there except only to pop out at the beginning of American Luck. The production is okay, the levels could have been turned up more and the bass should be louder too.
Razor albums are hard to come by these days, with the Bob Reid era albums being next to impossible to track down. If you do see this for sale though do not hesitate to pick it up. Minor gripes aside, this along with Beneath the Remains are two of the best the genre of thrash has to offer.
I was a huge fan of Razor's original vocalist Stace 'Sheepdog' McLaren, who fronted the band for the Armed and Dangerous EP and the five full-length albums which made up the prime of the band's career. From the dirty, candle melting speed metal of Executioner's Song to the more violent, late 80s thrashing of Violent Restitution, this had been the voice of Canada's premier chainsaw wielding metal band, and when I had learned that he would not be continuing on with the band into the next decade, I felt a little crushed inside. How could the band capture that wonderful atmosphere again, without Sheepdog's brutal intonations?
The answer is that they wouldn't, ever again. But damn it, they were going to try, and so they recruited a little known frontman Bob Reid and gave it another go. Shotgun Justice, the band's 6th album, is musically quite similar to Violent Restitution, though that album had been so god damned great that I must have been burnt out on the style by the time 1990 came about. Explosive, urban, violent thrash metal with lyrics both cheesy and relevant to the issues of Western Civilization in those years. Now, Reid may not have been the equal of McLaren, but he had a more torn sound to his throat which still matched well enough to the manic riffs of Dave Carlo, and if anything, Razor was sounding even more hostile. Just like its predecessor, Shotgun Justice is comprised of 14 tracks, most of which do not break the 3 minute mark and simply do not need to.
The band excels most when they're racing along with abandon, as in the opening track "Miami", which decries one of our 'beloved', filthy metropolises here in the States. The song is worthy of what that city needed in the 80s, if television stereotypes were anything to be believed...a haven of smugglers, drugs, and endless partying in the year-round heat of bodies and sun. I'll admit, the riffs here did not hook me as much as anything on Violent Restitution, and they in fact felt like a recycling. But it's not bad, and runs level with most of the faster fare on this album, like "Cranial Storm", "Stabbed in the Back", and "Violence Condoned". However, there are a few standouts like "Electric Torture", "United by Hatred" and "Concussion" which are of better quality, with riffing on the level of the previous release. And the slower songs like "Brass Knuckles" and "The Pugilist", almost all of which involve fist fighting, are suitably entertaining. Carlo still writes in the Bay Area vein, but set to hyperspeed, with as much thrust as he can spin into his palm, and some of the faster mutes between California and Germany. And since he's the star of the show (Reid's vocals are solid but rather monotonous), a certain level of manic aerobicism is needed to keep the listener violently thrashing his or her neck.
I didn't get much out of the album when it first released, thinking of it as Violent Restitution II: More Violent Than Before, But Not As Good. Nothing here can rival the classics like "Taste the Floor", "Enforcer", "Behind Bars", or the instrumental "Marshal Law". Bob Reid was an adequate replacement, with a suitably intense and disgusting register, but I can't help but wonder if Sheepdog's presence may have livened up the tunes here. At any rate, this album is at least superior to the ones that would follow, with some truly ripping rhythms and leads that feel worthy of the band's name. If you were into Violent Restitution, Malicious Intent or Custom Killing, this is more of the same. Whether or not that floats your boat is really up to the individual. I don't often find myself reaching for this above the older material, but I don't hold any negative feelings for it.
Highlights: Electric Torture, The Pugilist, United by Hatred, Concussion
If Dave Carlo has a "Speed" dial, screw 11, that thing goes to 12. Most super fast guitarists I've heard sacrifice all technicality to play faster, but that is not the case here. While not the most technical riffs, they aren't exactly always simple.
Now, Shotgun Justice. This album is so damn angry. I can't think of any other thrash album that is this pissed off. Every song is pointing a middle finger at something, and it doesn't come off corny or forced. These guys are pissed, and it shows. Reid's vocals compliment Dave's guitars very well as far as attitude goes. The drumming is great, really fast and frantic. The bass is a tad buried, it pokes its head out sometimes, but mostly it provides a good backbone for the guitars. The guitars, holy hell. Damn is Dave abusive to his guitar. He just goes crazy with it. He's a pretty unique player, if you ask me.
Now, as for the speed, if one were to attempt to headbang to this album, one best have health insurance. Even on Meaning of Pain, where they slow down a bit, it still kicks your ass, it's still angry as hell. I don't know a lot of music out there this fast. Holy Moses's album "Finished With The Dogs" comes to mind, though. Dave really shines on this album, his skill really shows, and it's awesome.
Overall a very, very good thrash album, fast and angry, it'll kick you in the face, quite a few times. If you like thrash, get this album.
In 1990 Razor, was in a time of change, replacing vocalist Stace “Sheepdog” Mclaren with Rob Reid. Many fans of the band call this album sacrilege because of Sheepdog’s absence, personally I see it as a dawning of a new era for the Canadian speed demons.
Well to begin with the production is excellent, far superior than the Sheepdog days. This album has a breath of life, it is vivid, everything is perfectly crisp & clean, from Reid’s growling vocals to Dave Carlo’s shredding solos.
As for how the music is played, amazingly epic. One would compare it to machine fire. But the interesting aspect of this is often on this album the music continues on through the next track, so rarely ever do you get to regain your breath after the sonic blasts featured n the album. The riffs produced by Carlo on this are simply amazing, they are full of life & bursting with energy, for the opening of Miami through the ending of The Pugilist there isn’t one boring riff or one slow moment what so ever. As for the solos they are fast, well played & often over within thirty or forty seconds, example, the title track’s solo is barely over thirty seconds. The rhythm section is as furious as everything else, Rob Mills gets some bad ass drum fills thrown in the mix & Adam Carlo’s bass fills are shredding right along with Mills’ insane speed. But Reid, the newcomer vocalist is part of the reason this era of Razor has life & energy. With his rapid fire shots of vocal insanity, speaking of violence & how truly fucked up society is breaths a new life into the group. Not only is Reid’s vocals fast & energetic, but they carry a nice evil growl to them. As for lyrical themes, these guys nailed it, speaking the truths on how fucked over thrash bands get or ignorance in society that leads to senseless violence.
Overall a perfect album, worth buying (that is if you have the cash), & far superior to anything else in the mainstream of thrash at the time-100%.
Shotgun Justice, released in 1990, is an album I consider a renewal for this band in a time where almost every thrash metal acts were going down the flusher, trying to please the mainstream crowd and the record companies.
Razor though, decided to go against the grain, and release their most violent, abrasive, fast and pissed-off record to date!
With the addition of new vocalist, Bob Reid, Dave Carlo took the occasion to push Razor further. Reid's vocal style was quite fitting for the lyrics of the song.
Starting off the album with the song Miami, the listener already knows where this whole album is going. It is one of my favorites on the album. The riffs are crushing, the lyrics are sung fast, the boys from Razor give you no break here.
Then comes United By Hatred, another crusher! Followed by the very good Violence Condoned, which is a song about an incident which happened in Ontario during the Violent Restitution tour. The band had got to a venue, where the boss told the band they wouldn't get their paycheck for the show. So the boys packed their stuff and left, causing a total riot. The fans destroyed everything. Dave Carlo and Rob Mills claim this to be a true story.
Don't fuck with Razor, even less with Razor fans!
Stabbed in the Back, is totally M.E.T.A.L.! It's exactly the way all metal should have been in the 90's. The lyrics are about Carlo's feeling about the current metal scene, and how he feels "stabbed in the back" by all his old metal buddies.
"The metal scene has gone to piss, Boneheads lead the way,
Playing fast because It's in, And then they go away"
"All the bands I used to like are going down the drain
What the hell has happened here, have they gone insane?"
The next track is the title track. There was even a video shot for this one. (Which was banned shorty after its release) The song starts with a slow, convincing riff, then when you least expect it, BANG. An assault of terrific riffage comes ripping and hits you in the head. This one is probably the fastest on the album, and also my favourite. If you haven't heard this yet, you ought to check this out, right now!
This is a near perfect album, from a near perfect band, who never got the recognition they deserved. The only downside to this one is the production, which could be clearer. But I can get over that easily considering the top notch quality of the songs. I give this album a well deserved 95/100.
Fans of Razor, or thrash metal in general, go out and try to find this album, you won't regret it. Promise.