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I paid something like 50 bucks for this EP on EBay. Call me stupid if you wish, but I'll call you a loser for not owning one of the best thrash metal EPs ever. Call me a fanboy for giving it the kind of rating I did despite vowing to reserve the high scale for masterpieces, and I'll tell you that yes, I am a fanboy, please clean your ears thoroughly with Spiritus Fortis and an electric drill, and face the music. This is brilliance, splattered on the walls, reeking of gore, and ready to chop your grandma to pieces and feed her to the undead two blocks down the street. And all this in a fun-loving, unreserved manner of classic thrash.
The recent re-release of the self-titled album by Rigor Mortis has turned Freaks into a collectible rarity. The last album, Vs the Earth, has been widely distributed, and it still is readily available on EBay and even in used record stores, at least here in Finland. The S/T, as a CD version, used to be rare until the re-release, but now you can get one for less than twenty dollars, and it will probably even have the nice extra tracks on it. But Freaks remains a rarity, and CD copies are regularly being sold for something in between 40 and 75 US$ on the EBay. If I may voice my opinion, it is worth it, until the band members run out of beer and decide to re-release this one, too. I predict that this will happen before the year 2007. There's no need for that, since I already have my own copy, and I really don't care about the rest of you, so I hope my prophecy fails. It's new material we need, not re-releases.
The EP is a 26-minute display of pure brilliance, much in the same way as the self-titled is. Once again, the essence of the brilliance comes mostly from a single source: Scaccia's guitar. The man is unbelievable in his speed, and the unique style is instantly recognizable. I've never heard anyone playing anything even remotely resembling this, and just like on the S/T, the song structures seem to be made specifically for him. Luckily, the sole design parameter results in fast, aggressive and extremely listenable thrash with constant riffing excellence. Any reunion of the band is impossible without Scaccia, and therefore we all should join in a silent prayer of whatever each one of us believes is the most effective deity, and wish for a sudden break-up of Ministry.
Bruce Corbitt was my favourite vocalist in the late 80's. He was kicked out of the band, and on Freaks the new singer Doyle Bright does the vocals. Somehow, I get the feeling that Bright was a result of some serious searching. If I may draw a parallel to a notable non-Archive band, AC/DC, it's surprising how close to the original singer's tone scale the replacement comes. Bright shouts in roughly the same register as Corbitt did, and uses the same "angry man" shouting approach to deliver the anger and violence in the songs. Yup, this guy was not a man found on the street, but the result of a deliberate search for a guy to replace a vocal talent the band knew they needed. The style was and still is such a rarity that I believe accidentally finding a vocalist with such resemblance with the previous guy could not have been possible. Keeping Corbitt would have been even better, but Bright is almost as good.
The production has improved from the self-titled. The sound is maybe a bit thinner, having lost some of the cluttered love-handles of bad production, but the disturbing clicking and clanging has almost disappeared from the cymbals, the bass is audible, and the whole sound is a lot sharper and tighter. The greatest and most pleasant surprise is the bass. It used to be inaudible, and went back to the background on the Vs the Earth, but on Freaks it can for once be heard well enough for one to appreciate it. Especially on the song The Haunted the bass does some very nice things, and Mr. Orr can't be blamed for lack of skill. He may be a punk rocker nowadays, but he sure can play, in the studio at least.
While every track on the EP is a masterpiece of sorts, the Six Feet Under/Worms of the Earth combo is the definition of good gory thrash. The first part is an instrumental, the second a story about being eaten alive by worms after being buried alive. Wonderful. Don't fall asleep under the living room table with a mouthful of spaghetti while listening to this.
There's also an explanation of a kind on the album cover, in the special thanks section. On the re-released S/T, there's the extra live track Spivey, a very comical thrash number. On the Freaks cover, they give special thanks to someone called David Spivey. Maybe he is the guy who should have a urine test despite working for Rigor Mortis? Sounds like... erm, a very special guy.
Why not rate this as high as the self-titled? Well, this should have been a full-length. The band lost the spark on Vs the Earth, and it's a pity they didn't go all the way when the pyre was still roaring. Otherwise, I am completely satisfied. This is good!