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Nobody can turn back time. All the better then that we still have the possibility to listen to albums such as "Scratch and Scream". They make the modern times more tolerable while giving us the feeling of being a teenager again. A deceptive yet glorious feeling. Therefore, welcome to 1984. The overrated NWOBHM is in its final throes. But a lot of determined young musicians in the United States feel the urge to express their musical energy. The members of Trauma are among the guys that start to maltreat their instruments in a skilful manner. They are not the most angry representatives of their generation. Nevertheless, their kind of metal is lively and energizing. Moreover, it is powerful enough to wake up and disturb the music industry. Better still, the music has its own personality. The band creates an individual sound. Located at the interface of power metal and speed metal, it offers a wide range of compositions. Admittedly, the running order of the songs follows an unwritten law of the scene. This means that the carefree band starts with the most powerful tune and a slightly balladic number closes the album. But apart from this stereotyped arrangement, Trauma impresses with the strength of each and every track. From today´s point of view, it is a shame that they did not get the respect that they deserved.
In view of the almost uniformly high quality standard of the single pieces, every listener will find his individual highlights. In order to give you a feel for the variety of the compositions, I will concentrate on three songs. "The Day All Hell Broke Loose" starts with furious drumming, powerful riffs and passionate vocals. It opens the album in an intoxicating manner and the traditional song pattern intensifies the catchiness of the song. The Big Brother anthem "We Are Watching You" follows a different path. Simple yet gripping riffs are combined with slightly desperate vocals. The mid-tempo tune is crowned by its mighty and very memorable chorus. "I Kill for Less" presents an almost airy verse which contrasts with the dark and slightly threatening chorus. But these are just three examples of an album that has a lot to offer. You will find melodic sections, almost elegiac parts, fantastically evocating arousing guitar solos and hymnal screams. Lead vocalist Donny Hillier prefers to sing in the high ranges without appearing feminine or powerless. The instrumentalists also perform flawlessly. Better still, the quality of the tracks match with the technical realization. The songs develop their full force not at least because of the well balanced mix. The full-length sounds neither artificial nor compressed, but organic and natural. No doubt, the booked studio was worth the money. Perhaps it sounds solemnly, but this is the genuine sound of metal.
As mentioned above, Trauma did not get the necessary attention in order to survive. One reason for this could be that they did not easily fit into any scheme. They did not play pure thrash or speed metal, but they were also far from the traditional heavy metal approach. In any event, it was a pity that the highly talented group fell into oblivion after the release of "Scratch and Scream". They were definitely more than just the former band of Cliff Burton. Anyway, this debut still shines with its mighty and spirited aura. Who said that we cannot turn the clock backwards?
Trauma is an almost unknown speed metal group that back in 1984 released this very good CD. Playing old speed metal they took influences from early Exciter and Anthrax (the voice is incredible similar to Belladonna one!); the speed is very high as it should be in this genre and the opener is a good example of that. The solos are shredded and the refrain is very catchy, while the drums are restless.
The following “Bringin’ The House Down” is pure early 80s power/speed, great! I love that sound, made of pure passion and sweat without too smart arrangements and, most of all, without computers! The tempo in this song is more hard rock style and the refrain is always catchy. Often the vocals are in falsetto, and extremely well done, not excessively high in tonality. “Kill For Less” is mid-paced but extremely good with great solos.
After two mid-paced tracks (extremely good) it’s time for the title track to bring some violence with some stop and go and the obscure refrain. The guitars here are more complex in their parts with a great solo at 2:27 with lots of tremolos and strange effects. An obscure arpeggio and odd spoken parts introduce us to “The Warlock” song, a damn fast one! Everything is in pure speed style and here the vocals are even more melodic.
“Lay Low” is total hard rock in its tempo parts and for some guitar parts but, going on, the song increases in speed during the solo to return almost mid-paced after. “In The End” starts as a semi-ballad (very good melodies) continuing in pure speed style with awesome solos during the end. “We Are Watching You” is again mid paced/ hard rock style. It’s incredible how you can breath the true 80s air in those songs…
The final “The Flight Of The Raven” is obscure in its melody made of arpeggios and solos at the beginning. The vocals are evocative and suffered. At 2:00 an up tempo beaks the gloomy atmosphere but after we return to the arpeggio and again to up tempo. This is a very good song, based on the balance of obscure parts with few faster ones.
Well, I must say that this is a good album of pure power/speed metal and it's recommended to anyone who likes this genre. The only thing is dislike is the presence of few up tempo songs that surely deserved more attention; but anyway this is only a personal opinion.
On the visual surface with their puny title, name, and sleeve combo, CA’s Trauma could’ve easily been overdressed in overcolored Crue-ish tatters, handed a lite beer, and then enlisted in the time’s rock hard regime. Seriously, the triune of fundamentals listed above almost made this lp appear as a no-brain butt rocker, and with but a look it could’ve been buy or die or nay and go away depending on the peruser. If you hadn’t flipped the record over for the leather-clad band snapshot, this lp could’ve wound up fending for itself amongst the hairspray cans of some unsuspecting buyers. However, within the periphery of the cover’s predictable, fleeing-the-scarlet-depths motif, there is the extension of its unforgiving stone walls. At least this was my impression upon my first glimpses of the jacket. Of course, from the eye of the cover’s original idea, the walls probably mean nothing outside the obvious, but my occasionally far-fetched symbolism saw the five-piece’s sound (the escapee) pushing the ‘rocky’ stairwell apart i.e. pushing boundaries/limitations. Simultaneously, he’s getting the hell out of the commercial rock/metal abyss. I mean, jeez, it’s ’84, and the tide was turning, so let me have my little high hope even if I myself, while listening to this thing spin, saw that my dinky daydream was all baloney.
Yeah, Trauma shoved a bit, but were never overpowering. Best known for entertaining bassist Cliff Burton somewhere along the line, Scratch and Scream divulges chunks of traditionalism layered with a desire for medium-strength speed metal and transient power metal cleanliness. Unfortunately, aside from spicy opener “The Day all Hell Broke Loose”, a lot of taste is missing from the whole thing.
“The Day all Hell Broke Loose” is your cutting edge icebreaker, veined in the forerunning, accelerated spirit of “Let it Loose” from Savage’s Loose ‘n Lethal and “Dutch Connection” at the front of Jaguar’s Power Games attack and is easily the most driven of the lp’s gang. From here on things slide slowly downhill, starting near the top of the peak with lightly above average “Bringin’ the House Down” and gradually loses footing with “I Kill for Less” and the title cut, a pair of tracks equal in nondescript trad-metal trance to side two’s “In the End” and “We are Watching You”. Even the finale, a drawn out, patchwork quasi-ballad called “The Flight of the Raven”, captures little catchiness or intrigue and sounds thrown together without much primer. Other than that, it’s the responsibility of “Lay Low” and “The Warlock” to keep the effort real (or at least worthwhile), and with a decent amount of muscle they strain to keep the nine-songer shoulders above water only barely.
Most important in this lp’s gradual erosion is its lack of songwriting grit. Without being memorable or interesting, riffs and structures sputter somewhere near the lower half of the excitement barrel, and most renowned Shrapnel virtuosity stares vacantly at these tracks. Then there’s Donny Hillier, a characterless singer going at it with fairly high, constricted notes and a demeanor that rushes them to somewhat annoying levels, yet contrarily, they’re not even sung that quickly. Together, these wayward essentials are partners in the crime that sucked Scratch and Scream fairly dry.
Average is a mild gloss verdict for this disk.
Fun fact 9845.5a: a pre-Chastain Leather Leone sits in the rear for some backing vocal action, not that you’d ever know it.