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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.