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It is with a rather odd fit of self-irony that I have to say that this isn’t as bad as it is made out to be. By no standard is this good or even an album that could be described as being enjoyable for those who wanted thrash metal and got stuff like this instead. But if the basis of comparison is albums like Metallica’s “St. Anger”, Machine Head’s “The Burning Red” or Sepultura’s “Roots”, this is a superior album. It still contains some elements of the older Slayer that everybody loves, more particularly the one that put out decent music on “Divine Intervention”, albeit in sparse intervals within certain songs. There’s plenty of groove and stagnated chugging that makes “Countdown To Extinction” sound like “Darkness Descends”, but what results is something more along the lines of a “Chaos A.D.” or “Vulgar Display Of Power”.
Unlike most of the nu-metal brethren of the day who were farting all over the concept of the guitar solo and creating actual riffs to bolster a bare bones arrangement rather than 2-3 note drones with rapped nonsense and loopy studio vocal effects, there is actually an attempt at musical variation and even an aura of technicality. The guitar solos that occur are essentially a slowed down and restrained version of what would ordinarily be going on, almost comparable to what was heard out of Kirk Hammet and Marty Friedman at around this time. The groove sections are naturally annoying insults to the concept of guitar playing, but there are usually brief instrumental breaks that explore the old dissonant harmony work of better days, albeit in a much slower and less catchy capacity.
There are basically four songs on here that don’t put the concept of metal over a barrel, but even this songs are fairly flawed afterthoughts that might have amounted to B-sides on “South Of Heaven” or “Seasons In The Abyss”. “Perversions Of Pain” and “Point” are basically full thrash songs and fairly decent, perhaps measuring up to some of the fast works heard on “Seasons”, but also containing breakdown sections that are a little bit too modern sounding. “Bitter Piece” also is pretty fast and catchy once it gets going, but you have to wait through about a minute and a half of repetitive monotony to get to it. “Scrum” is a little better during the slow sections and throws out a few decent riffs before it starts cooking, and also features the wildest yet shortest lead break on here.
Everything else found on this album falls into two categories, one being really bland groove metal in the mode of Sepultura and Pantera circ 1992-93, the other being the Mallcore drivel of Korn and The Deftones. A good example of the former is found in “Screaming From The Sky”, which is perpetually locked in mid-tempo land but does show a little bit of riff variation within a fairly limited range of ideas. For the latter look no further than the grating, homeboy hat sporting nonsense that is “Death’s Head” and “Love To Hate”. If you have never experienced pure 3 note groove redundancy with the most poser oriented tough guy yelled crap, this is one of the places to experience, but try not to listen to these songs too many times or your balls might shrink while your pants get baggy.
The jury is back and the verdict has been rendered, this is a lousy quarter-thrash album that would best be buried in the graveyard of nu-metal gayness. Itunes has made it possible to download individual songs from albums, so anyone looking to hear something that is fairly decent, stick to the 4 songs mentioned in a positive capacity here. The lesson to be learned if you are actually masochistic enough to purchase this entire CD at any price above $2, is that the old cliché of “too big to fail” is an utter lie and that anyone who speaks this nonsense should be beaten mercilessly with a wet super shammy.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on April 24, 2009.