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It’s always nice to come back to the golden age of thrash: the riffs were ravenous, the sound qualities were meaty, and the bands weren’t mere caricatures of the subgenre’s giants. Razor, the Canadian thrash juggernaut whose riffs and intensity are as swell as it gets, has really never flopped. One could turn around and toss a bouquet into the arms of any of the group’s records and feel pretty confident a bridesmaid will have a shotgun wedding right around the corner, but “Violent Restitution” is something special. I’m not sure it’s valid to call it Razor’s best work when most of their other albums are neck-and-neck in terms of quality, though it makes the case to be the perfect representation of what it means to be Razor.
Detailing this phenomenon is somewhat tricky. It helps that Razor doesn’t pretend to be interested in flirting with other heavy metal subgenres or compromising the thrash metal seeds, which are in full bloom here. Sheepdog, in what would be his last effort as vocalist for Razor, is wonderfully placed against the constant storm of fast picking and pounding drums. His wails and aggressive tone are noticeably lighter than Bob Reid’s, though there exists a brand of warmth in how he executes his street-fighting yelps. I’ve always assumed his style would better fit a crossover group, but the shades within his tone, execution, and aggressive tenor pay justice to his efforts. “Violent Restitution” shows his performance running wild on the chaos of Razor’s maniacal waves.
It is important to point out there are seldom rough differences between Razor albums; pinpointing what makes “Violent Restitution” so enticing boils down to the nuances, as usual. Expecting a storm of blazing riffs isn’t breaking news, but finding another Razor release with such corkscrewing sequences twisting in and out of a sound quality that is raw as red meat is quite debatable. “Violent Restitution” has what is one of the finest song collections among Razor’s catalog. Blazing beatings like “Taste the Floor” and more mid-paced, rocking tracks such as “Out of the Game” are different but clearly of the same breed, though “Enforcer” remains my favorite. One thing to admire is how unbelievably vicious the whole thing sounds. The skin-peeling speed of the riffs notched up to the constant snare abuse and Sheepdog’s vocals brew up quite the storm for “Violent Restitution” to strut its stuff.
Razor manages to sound like Razor; there are seldom surprises. But for a group whose identity had reached fruition early on, “Violent Restitution” brings together a ferocious arsenal of thrash. Razor’s knack for tracks running for just a few minutes is in full bloom and spitting out what are among the heaviest and fastest Razor tunes around. The sound quality—more often a do-or-die factor for thrash albums than not—is awesome; totally meaty and raw but with an instrumental balance that conveys the carnage wonderfully. What we’re left isn’t per se the best Razor album, but one that definitely makes the case to be among the top of the class. Just another mandatory Razor record that will rip one’s spine out via the pooper and refuse to apologize for the mess.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
1988, the year when the popularity of thrash reached peaks with an enormous pile of legendary records released during a period of splendor and brilliance. It was also the year when Canadian thrashers Razor put out their most acclaimed work, Violent Restitution, the last recording featuring the charismatic singer Stace McLaren. These guys had recorded already solid material before, particularly Evil Invaders and Malicious Intent included a bunch of classics, though it wasn’t until this album came out when their sound definitely became truly distinctive and totally thrashy (in the beginning they were rather a primitive speed metal act). In contrast with the class, complexity and melody people like Heathen, Toxik, Meliah Rage or Agent Steel incorporated to the subgenre, the essence of these titles is still as straight, unpolished and raw as the mid-80’s early thrash.
The band’s explicit determination for speed and aggression is clear from the very first cut “The Marshall Arts”, certainly the most energetic stuff these guys ever recorded, defined by Dave’s amazingly heavy artillery of abrasive riffs and Rob’s hyperactive tempos. Actually, both massive riffing and frantic double bass-drum rhythms are what each of these tunes are all about, all of them competently constructed and developed with effective simplicity. “Edge Of The Razor” or “Soldier Of Fortune” for instance prove the efficiency and potential of Razor to design vivid vibrant riffing including limited yet significant variations to give sense and consistency to the music. Other times, the configuration of structures is completely basic and repetitive, giving brutality and velocity total control. Riff almost remain untouched as a humble support to the rhythm section on compositions as “Taste The Floor” and “I’ll Only Say It Once”. And of course, vocals have a very notable presence, occasionally leading the pack and defining some sections, very insistent and infectious on “Enforcer”, whose choruses make it ideal to sing along. Lyrics on “Behind Bars” and “Fed Up” are plenty of attitude, very punkish and charismatic, sung by Sheepdog with passion and rage, making Razor‘s music more unique and characteristic. However, raging riffs are what will take your attention at once here, I must insist on the superb work of Dave Carlo, whose lines might not be technically precise at all, yet they’re admirably well-executed and developed during the songs, determining reasonable bridges, breaks, sudden tempo shifts and alternative structures generally that avoid excessive uniformity and provide continuity. In their own way, with their clear limitations and humble ambition, the group finally achieved their own sound and identity.
Although it’s obvious Razor’s music didn’t evolve much during the 80’s, they started like a scruffy speed metal band, including later looser riffs and greater aggression, though instrumentally their level had always been humble. While others included a bigger percentage of difficulty, progression and melody by the late decade, these Canadians preferred to stay primitive and brutal, their material remained as simple as direct as it was on their early records, keeping on other hand their originality and motivation. Expect no intricate arrangements, no meticulous performance or refinement here; it’s more about the attitude for this group. Actually most of these numbers hardly reach 3 minutes-length, but they don’t need more than that to construct honest thrash, let others make overlong exhausting inconsistent music (…And Justice For All came out that year). That punkish attitude is materialized on the essence of each riff but also on those amusing inspired lyrics talking of varied issues, generally urban and believable in contrast with the tiring clichés of the subgenre. McLaren proves his good sense of humor on “Discipline” (though maybe these guys were really into BDSM), a track which features certain melody, a tenuous element during the record, there are a few harmonies yet riffing remains mostly harsh and relentless. So each song has something special, even though Razor’s style is evidently uniform and deprived of pretention, because you can feel their music came naturally with honesty, that’s what always made imperfect thrash records like Violent Restitution so perfect, valuable and refreshing no matter how technically simple and uninventive they were. Although that terrible production by a veteran like Brian Taylor and Bill Kennedy’s bad mixing are handicaps we can’t ignore, actually I doubt any album of the group was adequately produced.
In conclusion, here’s one of the jewels of Canadian thrash, Razor’s finest hour, a cult album that will undoubtedly satisfy those who enjoy aggressive fierce music. It was remarkable this group remained loyal to their underground roots in a time when thrash was getting more and more accessible, sometimes scandalously cheesy incorporating elements by 1985 nobody could’ve expected to hear from this music. Those who prefer brutality and attitude to sophistication and tiring progression will love these 14 cuts. Sad this was the last Razor record featuring Sheepdog McLaren on vocals, they would still make fine thrash later (Shotgun Justice, Open Hostility) with Bob Reid’s even more peculiar raspier voice but deprived of the grace and charisma of Stace.
Razor is arguably one of the best thrash bands you've never heard of. Since the very beginning (the Armed and Dangerous EP, Executioner's Song, and Evil Invaders), Razor has released a lethal brand of thrash metal with a significant Slayer influence. The previous release (Custom Killing) was experimental for the band. With strange intros, slower songs, and less violent lyrics, there was a legitimate cause for concern. However, in 1988 these crazy Canadians released an album that is the epitome of violence, aggression, and fun. "Violent Restitution" is sadistic, insane, and hateful. In other words, this is an instant thrash classic.
Dave Carlo is a walking human riff factory. If releases in the past couldn't convince you of this, then "Violent Restitution" will. At parts, the riffs are extremely catchy and intense. In others, the riffs are more mid paced, but just as lethal and evil (the break down of "Violent Restitution" or "Edge of the Razor" is a fine example of this.) The solos are short and sweet, don't expect anything lengthy or overly technical. Stace "Sheepdog" has some of the best vocals in all of metal. From the ear piercing, possessed sounding scream on "The Marshall Arts" to the deep, intimidating growls on "Eve of the Storm" he proves time and time again why he is one of the best. Rob Mills was a big improvement over M-Bro's work on "Custom Killing" and "Malicious Intent". He keeps the drum work intense at times, and mid paced in others to add strength to Carlo's guitar work. Lyrically, I can only describe this album as vocal hate for the whole 40 minutes.
Overall, if you like underground, insane, underrated thrash, then this album practically has your name on it. With insane riffs, a vocally talented front man, and some nice drum work, Razor has proved why 1988 wasn't such a bad year for thrash as some may think. If you're a fan of thrash, this album will fail to disappoint.
You know, the one with the little price tag and gore-drenched bar? After the lousy "Custom Killing", Razor probably should have fallen off the map. Luckily, they didn't. No, this band kept on chugging. A slight line-up change and a mixture of returning to form and going somewhere new resulted in Razor's 5th studio album, the legendary "Violent Restitution". Re-energized and ready to kill again, this newish Razor went straight for the throat with no-frills thrash with sleazy subject matter of bar fights, horror movies and of course, lots and lots of killing.
New on board are Rob Mills on the drums and Adam Carlo, brother of Dave Carlo, on bass. I must say they are very welcomed. Mills' drumming is punchy and ferocious; very much classic thrash with lots of energy. The loud bass of Adam Carlo is like a chainsaw in of itself, booming and cutting a path of harsh rhythm throughout each song. How does his brother Dave fare? Better than ever thank you very much. Carlo's guitar work is viciously re-energized on here, letting more than 449, 210 or so jillion riffs go flying in catchy, whirlwind aggression. Lastly, the final Razor album of Stace "Sheepdog" McClaren. But what a way to go out! His trademark shrieks sound more evil than ever, mixing them with his Lemmy-like barking and shouting.
There's two issues plaguing "Violent Restitution" from being perfect. One, the production blows, again. It's too quiet, killing any chance of a really great sonic attack from these tunes. Do what I did; run it through High Quality on your Windows Media Player, and believe me the songs sound twice as good. Secondly, variety. This is something of an issue with most Razor records, and on here the problem continues. It's the same basic thing with each track: a song, usually only 2-3 and a half minutes in length, loaded up with chainsaw riffage and psychotic vocals, often with something of a punkish vibe. Not a bad thing mind you, but the tracks do sometimes run together, though unlike many other metal albums you at least don't have to dissect the songs on a microscopic level to differentiate them from one another.
There aren't any bad tracks on "Violent Restitution" really; just many that stand out more than others. The album gets off to a merciless start right off the barb wire-encrusted bat with "The Marshall Arts", a bloodcurdling instrumental that sees Sheepdog belting out an incredible 30 second scream to start off the song! It never lets up, we get a number of heavy duty, high octane little thrashers like the spitfire vocal-fueled speed riffer "Taste The Floor" or the fearsome title track with its tempo shifts and hooky breakdown. "I'll Only Say It Once" and "Discipline" follow suit with similar relentlessness, but both are notable for starting off with weirdly melodic and, dare I say, even happy-sounding riffs before switching on to the aggression. "Enforcer" kicks a great deal of ass as well, it's brutal and crushing riffs hitting harder than a rusted shovel to your silly mortal cranium before hitting harder with a mid-paced middle part. Then we have my favorite song on here: "Edge of the Razor", which has the honor of being the first Razor song I ever listened to. Even today I still think the slowish, flesh-slicing extended intro is one of the most brutal things and evil-sounding things ever. The rest of the song is no slouch either; a cruel, catchy assault of attacking riffage and unhinged, merciless vocals from Sheepdog. When this man screams "MURDER! MURDER! I've gone through a psychotic change", you fucking believe it! Please, think of the poseurs.
Overall, this album deserves its legendary status. While I prefer "Evil Invaders" and the later record "Open Hostility" by a hair, there is pretty much zero wrong with "Violent Restitution". The production is a little weak and the songs are kinds repetitive, but it matters little when you're getting whooped from here to the other end of your house by riffs and aggression of this caliber of catchiness. I mean come on, "Taste The Floor" has a fucking chainsaw sample in it! It doesn't get much more metal than that...
Violent Restitution is the thrash metal equivalent of being manacled to a batting cage and having each member of the Bad New Bears roster beat you in the ribs, liver, balls, and upside the skull a few times in succession; then to smirk and spit in your eye as they hand off the sporty bludgeon to their next teammate. It's just THAT fucking entertaining and abusive, and in my opinion, one of the most fun, frenetic and simply intense efforts of its kind in existence; certainly one of the most incendiary and memorable speed/thrash records of the 80s outside of Germany or California. I've gotten so much enjoyment from this album in the past quarter century, that despite having purchased the LP, cassette and CD versions, I feel like I owe Dave Carlo at least another $100 dollars and a six-pack.
You know the old saying 'they don't make 'em like they used to'? Well, this is the living, serrated proof of that statement's validity. Even though I'm annually inundated with countless, excellent examples of blackened thrash, death/thrash or hyperactive paeans to the 80s, many of which manage to successfully ape the visceral excitement of a record like this, there's nothing quite the same. Like a Reign in Blood, Darkness Descends or Zombie Attack, it fashions the most straightforward of intentions into a seamless bloodthirst. Fast drums, angry riffs hurtling past you at a mile a minute, and gruesome vocals that sound like they're coming from a man who was just stabbed in the face during some barroom altercation with a half-broken glass bottle. No riff seems out of place, no derelict tempo or stylistic diversion enters the frame to diminish its momentum. Violent Restitution never pretends to be what it's not, knows and respects its own boundaries, and offers you precisely what its cover implies: an escape into social unrest, serial killer b-flicks, and a repository for unchecked, unapologetic masculinity. So close to perfection that you can taste it. In fact, if I wasn't such a massive nerd for Voivod in their prime, this would prove my favorite Canadian metal record. Ever.
Like its chronological/national neighbor Dimension Hatröss, Violent Restitution is a concept album. But the theme here isn't rocket science or speculative microscopic adventure. No, this is about 14 ways to kick your ass so hard that you'll have to floss your colon after it comes up through your throat and breaks all your teeth. The riffing provides the central force, tireless escapades of rapid mute picking and barrages of chords, coiled in the potency of Carlo's chosen tone. The guitars have more punch than almost any other Razor record. Less reverberated and atmosphere than an Evil Invaders or Executioner's Song, but denser and more effective than an Open Hostility. While Dave is the epitome of the thrash rhythm guitarist, even more so than fellow Canadian Jeff Waters of Annihilator, he's also quite capable of unhinged leads ("Eve of the Storm", "I'll Only Say It Once") that offer the bluesy, burning wildness metal snagged from its hard rock ancestry; or brief, spurious runs up and down the higher strings which add an extra level of chaos and acceleration to the standard machine gunning rhythm matrix he radiates.
Everything else on this album is secondary to that guitar, but by no means does it go down without a fight. Rob Mills' drums slap along like empty buckets being strung along a dragster on the speedway, and while there's not a lot of variation in what he's playing, he amply fills the shoes of predecessor M-Bro. Adam Carlo, younger brother do Dave, is the other new member on bass; and though his lines do little more than to mimic the guitars and increase their depth, there's this natural, pluggy tone to his playing that pounds away at your eardrums like the pulse of a heroine addict who just realized he's out of supply. Overall though, the album's engineers and producer (Brian Taylor, who had also worked with other Canadian mainstays like Sacrifice) did a knockout job of presenting Razor in this pummeling, pungent sound that easily trumps the airy aesthetics of its predecessor Custom Killing, or the thinner mix of Malicious Intent.
I should mention that the chainsaw samples, which appear at several points on the album, are excellent, and fire up the loins of the album's pacing even further. Unlike the ass-backwards, terrible Southern hard rock band Jackyl, whose cut "The Lumberjack" featured a chainsaw 'solo' and helped buy their fame, the gimmick is a lot more fun here, since it's obvious influenced more directly by the slasher flicks of the 70s and 80s. Violent Restitution, after all, is a very violent album, so when that buzzsaw begins a buzzin', it forces the listener to want to kick all that much harder. Razor also perfects their instrumental thrash opus here with "The Marshall Arts", an aptly pun-titled piece of moshing resilience which features some of the explosive riffing on the album straight out the starting gate. I'd place this in the arena with just about any other track of its sort, certainly with S.O.D.'s "March of the S.O.D." which had become so famous through its stint as the intro to Headbanger's Ball.
Stace 'Sheepdog's' vocals here are a tinge dry, but he's using the same register as the previous albums, with a lot of puerile, irascible barking and slight screams that beautiful permeate the brash hostility of the instrumental foundation. Alongside Jeff Becera or Cronos, this guy had hands down one of the best voices in the business, grimy in all the right ways and places. Violent Restitution would prove his swan song with Razor, and the metal scene in general (he did a brief jaunt with Infernal Majesty this same year that never amounted to anything), and let me say this: the loss is ours. Unlike most of the newly birthed thrashers of the current era, he has an instant character to his inflection that never evades your memory. It's not 'trying' to amount to anything, it simply is, and it's a fucking bloodbath well-suited to the hilariously blunt lyrics, a non stop flood of expressions guaranteed to get your face (or someone else's) clubbed in an alleyway.
41 minutes. 14 tracks. Choosing favorites among them would be nearly impossible, since the quality is so taut and consistent. Obviously "Behind Bars" has received much attention through covers (like the great Cannibal Corpse version), but "Hypertension", "Taste the Floor", "Enforcer" and so many others belong on a highlight reel of the 80s' greatest thrash. I also loved the smutty "Discipline", or "I'll Only Say It Once", which hearken back to the molten speed-dirt of Executioner's Song; and "Out of the Game" with that amazing mid-paced riff that just pops along up until the verse erupts. Only a hand few fall shy of perfection, like the title track, but at worst it's only enough that I could graze off a few points to my overall score. Yes, just a marginal increase in depth would have netted this a 10 out of 10, 100%, but it's nevertheless one of the most essential purchases a thrasher could make. Even in a year of brilliant extremity like Blood Fire Death, Punishment for Decadence, Leprosy, South of Heaven, The Morning After, and Malleus Maleficarum, this still earns a spot at the dinner table, and sharpened utensils with which to carve you up. Prepare for evisceration. Prepare for impact.
Canada, a country often unjustly overlooked when thrash is discussed. Of course the US and Germany not only brought forth some of the greatest thrash acts but especially the highest amount. However when discussing Canada for more than 10 seconds, the list of recollections is obvious. Aggression, Dead Brain Cells, Soothsayer, Voivod, Sacrifice, Infernäl Mäjesty and we can go on if we like.
Razor are a band all thrashers worldwide at least know about. With 5 thrash metal albums already during the eighties, how could anyone overlook them? The biggest argument against Razor, or complaint if you like, is that people often say the band released the same album over and over during the period ’85-’91 with only the vocals and production sounding slightly different each time.
When not accustomed to the style, I can agree to a certain point. Razor did indeed have the AC-DC approach to thrash metal. A few riffs per song, high pace all the time and just go! But why change a winning team?
So I a way you could say, if you like one Razor album, you’ll like them all. But for me the vocals (which at times sound remarkably like Pestilence’s ’87 demos), some of their best riffs and perfectly suiting production make ‘Violent Restitution’ stand out.
Some examples? ‘Behind Bars’ has this simple yet furious Exodus riff on the verses and the finishing touch is the best chorus on the album due to great catchiness. Speaking of Exodus, listen to the intro to ‘Out of the Game’ and even the chorus, including gang shouts. They must be big fans. And if you think ‘hey they’re doing something else!’ like on the into to ‘I'll Only Say it Once’, think again. Just after the intro it’s once again full speed again the thrash metal way. Hell, one can even hear the Venom influence, just try ‘Eve of the Storm’. That vocal line, Cronos would be proud! The change in key to the chorus, once again very Venomish! And this is NOT a complaint. It’s great to hear how Razor directly turn Venom into thrash metal.
Razor is simple, to the point, fast, tight, energetic. Who am I trying to convince? Let’s keep it at this. If you like thrash, you will already have this album, so I don’t need to elaborate further!
Razor proves that they're up there with the likes of D.R.I., Nuclear Assault, or early-Sepultura with this monster of a thrash album. It's all about speed and the riffs. The simplistic d-beat punk drumming which is scattered throughout is very well done and best of all these songs are violent as fuck!
Palm-muted distorted staccato riffs are featured on every song and the lyrics are mostly about violent portraits of self-justified "Violent Restitution"; this is seriously some sinister sounding thrash fucking metal. The harsh hard-core punk/crossover/thrash vocals are very effective in complimenting the guitars. Who needs range? This is thrash... punk's drunken bastard cousin, the vocals are fucking awesome and fit the album just like Brecht with D.R.I..
Anyone have someone in their life who just DESERVES retribution? Well this album encapsulates that raw emotion: anger, chaos, RAGE.... and RIFFS: a maelstrom of logic defying riffs everywhere. The production is dry and captures the almost hard-core punk sounding guitars. This album destroys the crossover genre of thrash which I hold so dearly.
Every song is essential and the level of song-writing these crazy Canadians come up with is kinda astounding considering how fucking FAST they play. Certainly has a case for heaviest thrash album EVER so check it out.
Yeah yeah, slayer this and slayer that...Fuckin' RAZOR people. These guys were the real deal. From the Angst driven opener of "the marshall arts" to the climatic "soldier of fortune"...this album is like a freight train that just keeps picking up speed, until it finally smashes you right in the face and leaves you wondering what the fuck just happened. Dave Carlo was the origional Canadian pioneer of thrash metal. The reason I chose to write a rewiew for this particular album from their lengthy catalogue is simple...these guys proved that they were TRULY about the music with this one. Released in 1988 when most of the bands from this genre had somewhat slowed things down and released more "friendly" sounding albums (and justice for all, state of euphoria, under the influence, south of heaven) these guys sped things up! They became even more brutal and ferocious, leaving no doubt to their loyal fans that there was absolutely no room for compromise. You if you haven't heard this album...then stop saying that "reign in blood" is a landmarker...you're selling yourself short...It is my understanding that Dave hasn't been in writing mode for some time now, but as of September 2003 when I last spoke to him in Toronto, he did say that he had an album worth of material that he was reluctant not to record...my optimism is dying off however because there hasn't been an update about these guys in almost 6 months...I hope we are graced by at least one more Razor offering before Mr. Carlo really does call it a day.
This is a very competent thrash metal album. As Madman mentioned, most of the songs on here are pretty short, but not nearly as badly developed as, the dregs of Reign in Blood for example.
The main feature of the album is the "fun" coefficient... the vocalist is kinda punkish-sounding, especially in the choruses of songs like "Behind Bars" (I took the cash... you took the fall! You got arrested... I had a ball!) Stuff like that is just a fun sing-along, possibly even more so than an "Oppressing the Masses" - it is primitive, and reminds me most of The Ramones or another 70s punk band.
But, there are solid fucking metal riffs to be found here - the hyperfast "Marshall Arts" tends to feature them in great number, including an awesome thrash break at around 1:19 in. One band that this kept reminding me of is Annihilator, especially with the fast riffing. Sometimes the songs sound a bit similar to each other, but the differences are sufficient to keep the song entertaining.
The highlight of the album for me is definitely "Out of the Game", simply for the chorus. OUTTATHEGAME!!!! This is fun thrash at its best here. "Discipline" is also very nice, with some great melodic riffing, and "Soldier of Fortune" has an interesting middle break - though the best thrash break on here comes in the title track. Bangeth thine head!!
So yeah, it's a thrash album. There really isn't anything overwhelmingly exciting to be found here, but if you like Annihilator's first few, you will definitely love this one... this is a solid example of the Canadian thrash style.
Now here's a great thrash band from Canada and this is arguably their best album!!! It's all here: awesome riffs and breakneck speed. This is for the people who think Slayer rules the thrash world because when they hear this they should get a rude awakening.
The songs on this album are short and to the point as only 4 of the 14 songs go past 3 minutes and only one of those three goes beyond the 4 minute mark. The album starts off with the awesome intro instrumental of "The Marshall Arts" and never stops.
All the songs range from fast to very fast and the only time Razor do anything remotely slow on this album is during the intros to the songs and sometimes during the middle sections. The overall speed is something to be commended but is also a slight hinderance to the album as there's not much variance here so if you're not a thrash freak or you're not in the mood for something violent you could get a little bored with the album.
The highlights for me come from "Taste the Floor", "Below the Belt", "Discipline", "I'll Only Say it Once", and "Behind Bars". Although every song is a jewel unto itself those songs really stand out for me. Overall I'd say that if you love Slayer or thrash in general get on the Razor train!!!