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If you don't live in Toronto, haven't debated over choosing between hockey and metal on evenings, and have everything against laid back Canadian beer, then you probably won't "get" this release. This is after all, a band that dressed up as hoola girls for a Halloween show.
Though they do prefer German beer, and I have no idea if they watch hockey or not, there is something strikingly CANADIAN about them. Perhaps it's that humble-but-smug attitude towards their own music. They're not Razor, but they wouldn't mind opening a show for them. You could regard them as a joke band, but they are more or less set in their groove and the piles upon piles of influential releases that make this album look pitiful won't deter them even in the slightest.
You couldn't really call this thrash, it just doesn't have the kind of riffs that make you want to kill things. But it is speedy, and more or less riff-driven, a bit downright filthy, and above all basic metal. Every song has it's catchy moments, but it's hardly interesting and nothing develops out of it. There isn't really anything else to say, although it IS good enough for you to go out to see the band on a Friday night, and they won't charge you more than the cost of a beer for it.
But seeing as how they'll never end up playing shows outside of local Toronto pubs there's really no point in giving this album much thought if you don't get the opportunity to see them.
They reign as a semi-joke - there's something innately laughable about a bunch of mid-life musicians (who grew up as friends to Razor in their heyday) singing about playground fights ("Knuckle Sandwich"), yet the music is still honest enough. Sure, that hoola girls thing was for a Halloween spectacle, but they've done other shows and they do force people to headbang. And although the album is hardly worthwhile compared to the thousands of other releases the metal underground has to offer, I couldn't help but remember how playing this louder in the car, with the windows rolled down, involuntarily made my neck rock back in forth, as all good metal music should do.
As I've seen them live, I'm not offended by having their album in my collection. But can I listen to it more than once a year? Tough question. Would I mind having a few beers with them at their next show? That's better!
So 70 points might seem a bit too generous for this release, since nobody but the Toronto core has any chance of seeing something in it. But I found this album for about $7.99 in a chain record store in a mall that normally charges around $20, and I had already seen the band to know what to expect out of it. If corporations can't even make you pay a premium penny they must be doing something right. And since other local acts will charge you the usual outrageous price, this laid-back Canadian bunch gets a big thumbs up from me.
This review was a difficult one to write. A negative review can flow off the tongue when dealing with a band that have fallen from grace, or are just so spectacularly bad that there is nothing else to be said; but when it comes to a CD that is the result of honest endeavour from a group of musicians dedicated to what they are doing, it is difficult to find words that give a frank assessment of its failings without coming across as overly harsh, or worse, just as an inconsiderate bastard.
This unfortunately brings us to Spewgore. Playing uncomplicated, punk-influenced thrash (without ever going fully into crossover territory), these Canadians are obviously dedicated fans of the style and are in it for the love of the music. It's just a shame that so far, at least on the evidence of their full-length debut 'Chipped teeth broken fingers', they just don't have the quality to make a serious name for themselves.
The vocals of Bill Brown are, to be blunt, just not very good. A lot of thrash vocalists – Mustaine, Baloff, Schmier – started out by just getting by on sheer attitude, and while Spewgore's vocalist seems to have that in spades, he just isn't channelling it correctly at the moment. Nowhere near the rapid-fire delivery that is essential for this style, his voice often seems to just drag along over the top of the songs and can be quite grating and off-putting.
Guitarist and songwriter Steve MacPherson has come up with plenty of riffs for this CD, a lot of them good, but many of the songs built around them just fail to really stick in the mind. All very short (the longest just scraping past 3 minutes), but without the full-pelt, snotty, 'it's-all-about-to-fall-apart-any-second-now' posture of full crossover, many end up just feeling like half-developed thrash songs that don't fulfill their potential.
There are exceptions, however – the very obviously Celtic Frost-inspired "Fool me once", is a great tune with a fantastic staccato riff that shows MacPherson has some inspiration stowed away somewhere, and if he can figure out how to dig it out more often Spewgore may be able to find a means to step up a level.
It seems the best thing Spewgore can do is decide whether they want to jack up the speed and jump into full-blown crossover, or concentrate on writing more complex songs and mature into a more traditional thrash band. The crossroad they are standing at just now leaves them, at least to these ears, caught between 2 styles and getting the least of both worlds. Their enthusiasm is to be applauded, but in the end it really can only get you so far. That being said, I wish Spewgore the very best for the future, and hope to one day be writing a more positive review for them.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)