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What? No Sense of Humor? - 78%

DawnoftheShred, July 20th, 2007

Then don't bother buying this album. At the forefront of the burgeoning crossover scene, founded by the likes of hardcore stalwarts DRI and COC, the Stormtroopers of Death opted for a slightly different route than their more politically-minded brethren. While their riffage was true and their attitude fierce, their lyrics took the happy-go-lucky spirit of their punk predecessors a few steps too far, gaining them a surprising degree of infamy. Lauded by fans that could relate to their inherent silliness and criticized for their immaturity and their lack of song development, the verdict is still pretty divided on these guys. But while I'm certainly not going to place this on a pedestal with the greatest thrash albums of this period, I can still appreciate what SOD delivered on here: a fun, lighthearted (but really fucking heavy) romp of randomness and riffs.

The musical aspect of the band is pretty much unquestionably kickass. Backed by the furious drumming of Charlie Benante (of Anthrax, of course) and the fast, crass basslines of Danny Lilker (Nuclear Assault, formerly of Anthrax) while being propelled forward by the unusually unfettered speed riffing of Scott Ian (also of Anthrax), Speak English or Die rages from song to song. Admittedly, while this provides for some mindless, ultra-headbangable fun, it's the source of a lot of criticism against the band. The songs are fast and short, but without the well-defined boundaries of say...DRI or Nuclear Assault's output. But this is purposeful: the album isn't meant to be taken seriously, remember? Ignore all the short joke tracks ("Anti-Procrastination Song," "What's That Noise," among others) and there's some quality songwriting to be found. "Milk" is really fucking fast, but it's well-written. "Sergeant D and the SOD," "Milano Mosh," "Pussy Whipped," "Freddy Krueger," and "Fist Banging Mania" all follow suit, composed of solid riffage, crazy drumming, and memorable lyrics.

And at the end of the day, the lyrics on here really do tend to be more memorable than the riffs, simply because of how impulsive they are. It's like all the lyrics were written at the spur of the moment, about whatever Billy Milano and the boys felt like at the time. Milano's delivery is typical of hardcore bands at the time (read: shouting), but the lyrics are of uncommon hilarity. And again, SOD comes under fire for being offensive and immature. Sure, Milano lacks Kurt Brecht's ear for scathing social satire, but it's not the fucking point. This is random, this is crude, this is irreverent: this is art.

But this is not high-class art. This is every pissed-off kid's primal thoughts blasted at 250 bpm. Well, maybe not every kid's thoughts, but definitely one big kid named Milano's. Don't take it seriously, it's not meant to be anything more than heavy, fast, and funny. And that's most certainly what it is.