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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/)