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Vio-Lence. "Underrated" is the first word that comes to mind, as they are often forgotten yet truly loved within a circle of thrash cultists. These Bay Area juggernauts pounced during the second wave of thrash in the 80's when most bands moved into a more technically proficient direction. Not Vio-Lence! They were still content to mosh themselves and you into oblivion with riff after unrelenting riff, thank you very much. As is the case on their debut album "Eternal Nightmare", loaded with bloodcurdling guitars, booming bass and the band's infamous vocals.
The tone of the band is interesting for the bay area. They come off as rather punkish in their aggression, and wouldn't be terribly out of place with East Coast badboys like Overkill or Anthrax. Future Machine Heads Robb Flynn and Phil Demell are on show here before stooping so low, and are pretty fucking formidable guitarists. Think Metallica's guitar tone but more deranged. The bass of Dean Dell is a great highlight. It's actually quite audible; not heard constantly, but it pops up often and Dell lends some mean rhythm and his own brand of riffage nicely to the mayhem at hand. The drumming of Perry Strickland is not bad but nothing to brag about; basically little more than just pummeling the skins in typical thrash fashion. Lastly we have the infamous vocals of Sean Killian. What can I say about him? Well, if you haven't heard him before, he can't technically sing. Like, at all. It's more along the lines of nasally, punk-fueled ranting. Yet, I don't terribly mind him. Sure he gets grating at times but it all really adds something to the music that other bands don't have. So overall, thanks for sucking yet also being awesome Killian.
Though admittedly repetitious at times, all seven songs on here are otherwise a pretty cool runaway train of killer riffs and dark but sarcastic horror movie lyrics. My personal favorite ranks in as the immense title track, also probably one of the best thrash metal songs ever composed. You'll be humming the main riff all week, and the chaotic solo is unforgettable with its billion or so riffs and choppy but solid time changes. Fan favorite "Serial Killer" slashes unready mortal listeners its memorable chorus and ragged speed riffs. "Phobophobia" is nifty; it starts not unlike the aggression of the title cut, but then transforms into a more crushingly mid-paced affair. In my opinion, "Bodies On Bodies" has the best gang vocals (a Vio-Lence staple) on the album, while "Kill On Command" makes for a worthy closer with some of Killian's (slightly) more streamlined vocals and another killer main riff to hook on to.
Overall, this is very worthwhile thrash. Though at times repetitious and though some may be put off by Killian's vocals, the work done on here still kicks ass. The guitars and even the bass are very good, not to mention the plethora of riffs. I recommend you get a hold of this and crank the stereo for all it's worth!
It is difficult for me not to get happy when “Eternal Nightmare” is mentioned: the album is one of the most mosh-worthy albums in the history of metal. It contains almost criminal amounts of creativity and mid-paced fun and it is surely groundbreaking. Not groundbreaking because Vio-lence was an ambitious band that was trying to start a thrash metal revolution (if I am not wrong the band was simply a bunch of mosh-loving people with some very good ideas), but because few albums have so many elements impossible not to recognize in a single package. Sean Killian’s amazing voice (although he wasn’t exactly good in terms of technique before Oppressing The Masses), the somewhat muddy but very creative riffs and the loud-as-fuck bass with a timbre that thrashers still try to copy today are among the things that made Vio-lence a great band with an unusually large cult following.
The album’s opening is arguably the best of the genre: I have yet to see a riff or sample that builds up tension better than the memorable but slow introduction that pierces through your ears at the beginning of the title track, and the series of fast percussive breakdowns that succeeds the initial riff put you in the perfect mood for the thrash madness that is coming. The drums eventually slow down, but at that point, you are already eager to break your neck against the stage. Or the wall. “Eternal Nightmare” is, after all, a very good track, and even if bands often put the best track of the album as the first one (I am looking at you, Angra), when the song reaches half of its duration it is impossible not to feel that the rest of the album is going to be just as great. It is a shame, therefore, that the following track is perhaps the weakest of the album. Serial Killer is the fastest track here, but while it has fun vocals and some good riffs it feels too average to be even compared with the 6-minutes thrash monster that the listener has just left behind.
Thankfully, Vio-lence does not let your disappointment last for long. The third track, “Phobophobia”, is not only longer but also better than Eternal Nightmare – and I didn’t hesitate when making that statement. Eternal Nightmare is a great track, that is for sure, but Phobophobia is just flawless. The progressive-influenced, mid-paced song is Vio-lence at their peak, with tons of riffs mercilessly crushing our souls while the phobophobic guy depicted in the lyrics struggles not to succumb to his own madness. The song starts out slowly, gets more complex as you progress through it and peaks at a solo that is aggressive and short yet disturbingly beautiful. The relatively simple yet unusual riff that opens the song would also make a decent opening for an album – and if Eternal Nightmare’s introduction was not that good, I am sure that Phobophobia would be picked as the first track. This track should be a thrash anthem, something to be played at all weddings, and to this day, I am impressed by how many metalheads have never heard it – or have never paid enough attention to it to appreciate its greatness. Even the vocals –which are unusual but not exactly great- fit extremely well with the music.
Oh yes, the vocals. How could I forget about them? Sean Killian is a step lower than the rest of the band, and not several steps, as some people believe. He displays enough aggression and creativity during the album, having a sense of melody that some thrash metal vocalists unfortunately lack, but at “Eternal Nightmare” he still clearly had a lot to learn. His peculiar voice was probably the reason why he was picked to sing for the band, and it is a shame that his peak would only come at Oppressing the Masses – a good album that never really takes off despite the marvelous vocal performance. That and the muddy nature of the guitars due to a very raw production are the only major flaws present here, but the band compensates those flaws with the godlike riffing that is almost omnipresent in the recording.
The four tracks that are left after” Phobophobia” never reach its almighty level – but they are undoubtedly great. I would say that “Bodies on Bodies” is my personal favorite, but the quality of the album’s second half is pretty much uniform. During the last 20 minutes of the album, we get to see more catchy riffs, more loud bass and more unusual vocals, and yet the songs are remarkable enough to stand out by themselves. All of them are mid-paced, which seems to be the most comfortable terrain for Vio-lence (the only very fast song of the album ended up being the worst one), all of them are able to generate enough mosh to kill someone and all of them are undeniably fun to listen to.
Not only is “Eternal Nightmare” the release that best represents the spontaneity that I love about the thrash metal scene in the eighties but it also is a remarkably good effort in the technical level. With this release, Vio-lence proved that you can make long thrash metal tracks that are good from beginning to end (the average track length is five minutes) and in order to do so, everyone played their ass off. Sean Killian does not really live up to the album he is in, but he is still able to deliver a satisfactory performance. The production is raw, as it should be with every thrash metal release (although sometimes it feels too raw) and the riffs are energetic, catchy, aggressive, and ultimately fun.
Throughout the 80's many bands managed to leave there mark on the thrash scene. Some getting far more famous and commercially successful then others, while some were left to leave there mark and fade away into the underground history books. Although this is definitely not a popular album it is definitely not a hidden gem. More then likely if you have spent any amount of time digging into the thrash scene you will have heard of the band Vio-Lence. This album is easily there masterpiece.
Eternal Nightmare is a ridiculous moshfest of an album. Every riff, every verse, every solo, every moment is perfect. There are only 7 songs on the album but all are of a serious length besides Serial Killer. The album starts off with the title track, Eternal Nightmare. It slowly builds up into becoming one of the stronger songs on the album. Serial Killer is a short, sweet, in your face burst of speed. The music on this album is all tightly sewn together. Nothing feeling out of place. Even the crazy vocals of Sean Killian fit. They are often erratic and speedily spewed out sounding almost like a punk singer. You can sense the in your face attitude this band possesses while listening to this album. Phobophobia continues this thrash masterpiece on its way. Then my personal favorite of the album hits you like a ton of fucking bricks. Calling In The Coroner is in every way perfect. It is not as speedy as some of the other songs but it is just as heavy and intense with some truelly great lyrics. Continuing the Vio-lent theme of the album. T.D.S. (Take It As You Will) is about drug addiction. Reaching its pick at around 3 minutes this song continuously keeps you banging your head. This whole album keeps you intrested. Bodies on Bodies is another classic thrasher off this album. Anytime you think that something is going to be overused they switch it up. And who couldnt live the chanting of "Bodies on Bodies on Bodies on Bodies." The song goes off into a little stop where you feel like it is going to end then it bounces back at you. After that dose of awesome they hit you with the final assault, Kill On Command. A story of a hitman and his apathy for peoples lives as he kills them. This song consist of some of the strongest riffs on the album. It almost has a familiar feel to Bodies on Bodies. The way it bounces back towards the end. Except this is far more intense. They obviously knew that they wanted to end this album as strongly as it began and they did a masterful job of doing so.
This is in my opinion a top 5 thrash classic. The music is as lethal as the lyrics. Vio-lence manage to be just as heavy as Slayer without really reminding me of Slayer. There are of course downsides to this album for some. Killian's vocals definitely arent for everyone. He is wild and erratic and im sure they could have picked a better vocalist for the band. But i am glad they stuck with him. Definitely one of the more defined voices of the thrash genre. But if you are not a fan of him you probably will not enjoy the album. Which is a shame to miss out on this 35 minute mass of riffs because of a vocalist. Another downside is the factor that it is only 7 songs. One more song would have been fantastic. But in a way the 7 songs is ok. Im sure it would not have been as focused if they had to add another song. Every song is perfect and i wouldnt have it any other way. Definitely a masterpiece deserving of the title.
Ever get the feeling that you’re missing out? I can see the attraction to this, but I can’t say I enjoy the execution. Despite its heraldry as one of the thrash classics, I fail to see what this album offers that is different or better to say ‘Bonded by Blood’ or any number of other actual thrash classics. In fact, ‘Eternal Nightmare’ is pretty much redundant when we consider that Exodus’ debut actually exists and to my estimates, will continue to do so.
I’m going to go out on a wing a little here, but rather than putting down the artistic death of the thrash movement to the groove onslaught or the lure of commercial success, could it be possible that the thrash movement died such a death because it allowed a whole slew of bands who offered nothing new and often simply came across as banal; to pollute and thrive in the thrash metal scene? I’m not saying this is definite factor, as undoubtedly there was no sole cause or, as some more far-fetched persons have claimed, album that ended the thrash movement (it’s not back by the way… Evile go home).
However, that said, lack of originality in direction and composition doesn’t entirely render something as bad musically, for instance, Rigor Mortis’ debut album, to these ears at least, doesn’t offer anything that would usher in a new thrash sound and certainly didn’t have the same “Holy shit, Satan is in my tape deck!” vibe as early Slayer. But Rigor Mortis had a resounding musical quality and though its direction wasn’t all brand new and shiny Mike Scaccia’s guitar work, regardless of personal opinion, stands out in its approach. Whereas, the knuckleheaded duo of Flynn and Demmel - despite some pleasant moments - completely lack initiative and as such can be deemed rather faceless. One could say that these two do stand out a little with their seemingly chaotic and relentless rhythm guitar… but it actually comes across as a little contrived when compared to the actual insanity of Scaccia or Petrozza’s approach. Still there are some good moments here and there, nothing original but satisfying. I suppose it’s something that thrash fans value, you’re always more likely to get praise for playing it safe than going on to newer pastures. Sticking to your guns is indeed noble, but it’s only really rewarding if they where good ones in the first place. Sodom’s rifle barrelled shotgun (sly reference there) has remained firmly in the thrash course and as such they are certainly worthy of praise… as they’re actually good!
One factor that does give ‘Eternal Nightmare’ something to get up over the others in the proverbial toilet of thrash metal banality is Sean Killian, however, it’s for all the wrong reasons. Killian is a pretty horrid vocalist. Whereas Testament was able to cling on a floater in the toilet, as Alex Skolnick is a fantastic lead guitar. The Vio-lence crew, however, are dragged to the very depths of its stinky bowl with Killian’s Fresh Prince of Bel Air meets John Lydon snarl. The worst offender vocally is ‘Kill on Command’, the vocals do just scream ‘South Philadelphia born and raised…’ It’s a shame really as the song is the standout of the album. The riffs, though generic, are really good. The breaks towards the end and solo section are enjoyable and a clear high point of the album. One gets the sense that Vio-lence would be better off if they had they had put up a “Singer required” add instead of letting their charmingly retarded mate warble over the top of things. Vio-lence where already bordering on Exodus tribute act, but this takes things too far. Paul Baloff you are not. There is comedy to be found in the backing vocals as the gang chant of ‘Bodies on Bodies’ sounds like “bike a, bike, a bike, a bike!” Is that what you want Santa to get you for Christmas?
Another problem, while I’m nit picking, is the production. I don’t mind the weird and cheap static sound to the guitars. It’s kind of quirky and fun. But the bass is too well accented by the mix and his tone doesn’t work that well in the context. The bass is too compressed and the occasional power chords that Dean Dell utilises come across as awkward. This perhaps wouldn’t have been the case if he’d gone for a more ballsy tone or been mixed down a little (either going the Sodom or Slayer route… well, Vio-lence seem to have a thing for being bovine followers in their music!).
While certainly not a horrid album, ‘Eternal Nightmare’ is a painfully average one and the few things that make it stand out are generally negatives. Would it be too much to ask if we were to examine the reasons for the death of the thrash scene to look at the plethora of unoriginal and compositionally lacking bands, rather than put on our red robes, board a double-decker bus and point the finger of accusation at Metallica/Slayer/Pantera etc?
Alot has been done in the thrash metal scene since 1988, the genre arguebly has been created by Metallica in 1983 when they relased their debut album, Kill 'Em All in 1983. Since then, both that album and their next album, would be important albums to shape up the genre known as thrash. Metallica, along with Overkill, Exodus, Megadeth, etc. all made classic thrash albums in their own right. However, none of them quite top the brilliance and perfection known as Eternal Nightmare form a relatively unknown band known as Vio-Lence.
It took five years since it's birth in 83 to perfect the genre in one whole album. However, Eternal Nightmare is a thrash classic that has never been topped, nor will it probably ever be toped. This album is thrash metal perfection. Everything that a true fan of thrash can possibly need is in this album, from the fast and heavy rififng from Rob Flynn himself, to his crazy soloing that not only tops Kerry King's lighting fast picking, but also displays it in a melodic sense without any wankery.
Also add in some lightning fast drumming, and some angry vocals from Sean Killian. While his vocals do take getting used to, especially at the first or second listening, once you get used to his unorthodox style of singing, you realize that he brings alot to the table after all. He can probably go neck to neck with Paul Baloff in terms of balls. Though, his vocals are generally higher than Paul's.
The production is also very good. The guitars sound very crunchy, which was typical for 80s thrash, but sound nice on here. The drums and the vocals are mixed in nice as well. The production is kind of on the raw side which is perfect for a thrash album.
I can't pick out any real highlights for this album, because every song on here is perfect and flawless. However, there are some tracks that stand out more than others. These tracks are the title track, Phobophobia, Calling in the Coroner, and Kill on Command. All of these songs display a strong sense of fast and heavy riffing along with some insane solos. Phobophobia probably stands out the most, because the main riff is catchy and shit, and demands some headbanging.
About the only thing that I could possibly find worn gwith this album is that at times it does get kind of repetative. However, when you have an album like this, especially when it only has seven songs, it's perfect. You don't need to change a thing about it. As Mr. Boris stated, Oppressing the Masses tried adding more variety, but failed in the end. Vio-Lence is good at being fast and insane, so they should stick to it.
If you're a true fan of thrash metal, and don't have this album yet, then your life is absolutely useless. If you claim to like thrash, and never heard of Vio-Lence, then you really shouldn't be claiming to be a true fan of thrash. If you're still reading this review, and haven't already gone out to at least look for this album, then what the fuck are you waiting for? It's a pretty rare album to find, especially nowadays, but it's totally worth your hard earned money. Fuck all of those German bands, this is extreme thrash done right!
Here it is, one of Thrash Metal's sacred cows and also one of its finest moments. Vio-lence's debut is highly regarded in almost every Thrash circle alive, and rightfully so. They didn't do anything terribly unique, but they played high-speed, head-bashing Thrash Fucking Metal better than a lot of other bands did, and this is a really cool album.
Things start off in fine form with the fantastic title track, which will shred and thrash your ass apart like a hungry wildebeest in the plains of Africa. The first thing you'll notice, perhaps even before the killer guitar tone and even better riff quality, is the vocals of Sean Killian. He has a higher pitched, punkish sort of voice, reminiscent of Bobby Blitz from Overkill, and his singing style is a crazed yammer. He sounds like he's bouncing off the walls, foaming at the mouth and ready to tear something apart, and despite what the pussies who don't like him might claim, he is perfect for this kind of music. Even if you don't think he has a good voice, you can't deny that much. The riffs are hard-edged and ballsy as fuck, pretty much exactly what you'd expect from this genre, except there are SO MANY OF THEM just flooding out of the gates and trampling over anyone stupid enough to get in the way. It's like that scene in Lion King where the beasts trample over Mufasa, except a lot cooler, and much more enjoyable to listen to. "Serial Killer" is another slab of barbed Metal thrashing that might be my favorite here, and it's followed right up with "Phobophobia," a monstrous, lethal song with enough riffs to fill the Statue of Liberty. The rest of the stuff here gets a bit samey and runs together a bit, but it doesn't deter the quality of Eternal Nightmare one bit. Get this if you like Heavy Metal as a musical genre in the least.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
VIO-LENCE - ETERNAL NIGHTMARE
When I first heard this album I almost laughed from the amount of aggression displayed here. So typical I thought. However, I easily was able to appreciate this album in no time as soon as the kind of ultra shock of the albums aggression left me. Its obvious that this album delivered a kick to the stagnating thrash genre which was coming off a kind of mixed year in terms of releases. This album delivered the blow that should have put the entire scene back on track. Unfortunately labels had gotten wise to thrash, and were capitalizing on its short run in the late 80's. Thus this album only serves as a monument to what a thrash band with plenty of ideas, riffs, and near flawless execution could do even without touching much new ground.
Onto the highlights for now. "Eternal Nightmare" is an amazing headbanger, that sets the tone of sheer terror for the entire album with its slew of opening riffs. Basically the perfect album opener, no sissy horror synth music, just sheer terror inducing riffage. "T.D.S. (Take It As You Will)" is a ripping thrash-tastic ode to drugs. As childish as it is, its amazingly well done, and has doubtless given Machine Head kiddies many a bad night. "Kill On Command" is a catchy ode to bounty hunters, with screaming riffage, sharp fast drumming, and a killer solo to finish off any Machine Head fans left. "Phobophbia" shows the band wasn't a one-dimension thrash group, as it features tempo changes, and creative transition riffing. Easily one of the better songs here.
The production fits the musics intensity perfectly. This is the type of album that should NEVER be re-recorded for ANY reason. It just would butcher the value the music had in the first place. Their is simply nothing wrong with this sharp production job. Vio-Lence also appeared to be incredibly on mark for a debut album, meaning they had an advanced knowledge of what worked and what didn't. The band wrote tons of memorable riffs as well and mixed this approach with memorable song writing and choruses (As Boris said you should easily get it by the third listen, or at least the basic sound). All in all this album sticks to the bare basics, with a shove it down your throat mentality that never slows down.
So in the end I reccomend this album. If you don't like the vocals, just try to ignore them because you'd be missing out on 36 Minutes of screaming over the top, head banging thrash that shoves enough memorable riffs your way to make your ears bleed. Machine Head fanboys be warned, this isn't for pussy "can't take the aggression" groove metal fans.
Overall: Highly Recommended to fans of thrash, and people who want to take a nostalgia trip back to the heyday of thrash.
You know, I’m not a death metal fan. Yep, growled vocals generally suck, I admit it. Most death metal always sounded to me like rather mediocre thrash metal with crappy vocals. I like a dose of extreme music as much as the next metaller, but somewhere along the line, I always felt death metal was the wrong direction for thrash metal to evolve into.
Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is the direction thrash should have gone!
Without a doubt this is the best extreme thrash album ever created. Bonded by Blood? Pah, immature work at best compared to this. Reign in blood? Maybe for a few seconds Slayer approached this intensity. Darkness Descends? Close but no cigar my friends. This album is so far ahead of anything else baring the name of thrash that it puts the shotgun against all other bands heads and slowly pulls the trigger.
In essence I have always felt this album comes from the more Anthrax side of the big four, the slightly anarchic side of things. That is ok. If I want epic thrash I’ll go for Heathen’s second album. And boy are we talking anarchic. We are talking ‘Bloody hell what the hell did I just hear???’ anarchic. From the first moments of ‘Eternal Nightmare’ right through to the complete riff nightmare of ‘Kill on Command’ This album is chock full of a multitude of riffage that makes just about every band in existence back off in dismay.
However the centerpiece of the album is without a doubt Sean’s vocals. Bollocks to those who call them horrible – especially the death metal fans – This is how extreme metal should be sung – Extremely fast, unintelligibly crazy, and yet managing to keep at least some kind of melody going. (which death metal misses out I’m afraid) Best extreme vocals ever without a doubt I would say.
Weaknesses? Not a lot, perhaps ‘Phobophobia’ is a little slower than the rest, but I’d rather claim that the weakness here is that the followup did not in even remote terms live up to the sheer anarchic manicmania of this release. The best extreme thrash metal album ever, all on its own, with no challengers either by the same band or any other. Get it now to witness what extreme metal could have (and perhaps should have) become.
This album is unquestionably the finest music the thrash genre has to offer (…yet, though unfortunately, probably ever).
Every song on this album is better than most bands entire discographies. Every song on here makes Slayer it’s bitch. Vio-Lence doesn’t even require the power of Satan to kick your ass like half the other thrash bands. They only require the power of rock, something quite inachievable by most bands it seems. This album is only 7 songs and 35 minutes, yet is has enough riffs to populate a riff planet or fill the Pacific Riff Ocean. It’s fast enough to make even a chronic masturbator seem slow.
I won’t lie though: I find this album pretty unmemorable. When I try to think of how a specific song starts, I can rarely remember. People ask me, “How does that riff to ‘Phobophobia’ or ‘Eternal Nightmare’ go again?” And you know what? I can never remember! Then again, it’s pretty hard to remember a single riff when each song has no less than (and more than likely exceeding) INFINITY FUCKING RIFFS PER SONG. So, unlike with most bands/albums, unmemorability is actually one of the album’s high points.
The solos, oh, THE SOLOS!!!! Actually, Vio-Lence don’t solo. They don’t shred. They take massive musical metaphoric shits all over Yngwie and Petrucci. They pinch gargantuan imaginary loaves on Kerry King and M.A. Batio. …Okay, maybe the solos aren’t faster than all of them, but they are way fucking better. Then again, most of those guys don’t solo (King does, and Petrucci does too… occasionally…), they just masturbate with their guitars instead of their cocks (though I’m pretty sure Petrucci and Yngwie use their willies in conjunction with the guitars). Every solo on this album is better than the Angel of Death solo and nearly every riff is better than the AoD riff. That’s saying something, because I fucking love that song. That riff and that solo? HOLY SHIT! But when you have 5 riffs (infinity was pushing it) of equal AoD quality in every song, Slayer just can’t compete. Actually, Slayer couldn’t compete even if Vio-Lence only had 1 riff of such quality per song. Slayer writes over-rated bullshit and a few proficient albums from before I was born.
And the lyrics. Nothing thought provoking, nothing super serious, nothing to make you re-examine your life. Tyler Durden didn’t write these lyrics. They don’t make you think or say, “Huh…” or, “How Nietzchean…” They make you say, “FUCK YEAH MOTHERFUCKER!! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ‘BOUT!” The lyrics are very well written and flat out kick ass, particularly Kill On Command. They are very simple to understand, but they refrain from sound like they were written by a mongoloid two-year-old, Forrest Gump, or Sloth from the Goonies.
Every instrument is played tightly. ‘Nuff said.
The only thing on this cd that has ever been less than desirable to me is the vocals. Originally, I was a bit set off by them and found the album difficult to enjoy. The second time I heard the album, I ignored the vocals and heard the riffs, that’s when I fell in love. The third through the fiftieth times (all in the first week mind you) I found the vocals hilarious. I often times found myself laughing hysterically at various moments throughout the album, especially in Phobophobia when Killian starts building speed and raising pitch (“In constant paranoia… just what it might be”)… Gets me every time. Now however, I can enjoy the vocals to an extent. They fit the music. Are they my favorite thrash vocals? Hell no, I’ve always thought Tom Araya’s were pretty badass. He’s not my favorite, he’s just the only one coming to mind at the moment. At times, Killian has that proper thrash shouting and he sounds fucking great. Other times, he has that comical insanity tone to him, and, while still fitting, it can occasionally result in uncontrollable bouts of laughter or annoyance. I no longer consider the vocals a drawback, just a less strong point. Rather than having good and bad parts, they have good and funny parts.
The production kicks ass too. Get the two disc version if you can, the live performances are great.
If you already own this album, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, then why and how the fuck did you manage to read all of these reviews before mine and still not gone out and purchased 3 copies of this album (one for you, one for a friend, and one for the first meth addict with ADD you see who will surely enjoy this)?! If this album were only reviewed by the number of good riffs it had, I would have given it far more than 100, but seeing as how the powers that be wouldn’t want the other 117,208 albums (at time of writing) to feel insignificant and worthless in comparison, 100 will have to suffice. Thrash won’t top this until Metallica stops sucking, Pantera reunites, and Dream Theater quit wanking. Seeing as how only two of those are still possible, Vio-Lence wins.
This is deranged, completely deranged. The riffs are lightning fast and insane, the drumming is berserk and chaotic, the bass is loud as hell, the vocals are spastic, and the lyrics are completely maniacal. Obviously this creates a glorious, deranged, face ripping, relative raping thrash-fest of inconceivable levels.
Vio-lence is surprisingly unknown for such a good thrash band, sure, pretty much everyone who is into thrash metal or Machine Head knows the name. But chances are they haven't heard a second of the godly music that they actually put out. I myself, am a pretty big fan of early Machine Head, and quite a bit of their newest one. But despite listening to that band for years, all I knew about Robb Flynn's past band was that their vocalist sucked and that they were thrash. It seems most people tend to miss out on a few little points when mentioning this band, that they happen to be one of the best thrash bands in existence, and that they are fucking fast.
This is pretty much thrash perfection, and aims to please the fans of the Exodus, Slayer etc. approach to thrash metal, in other words play fast as humanly possible, be completely over the top and generally violent and evil. Vio-lence take this idea on how to play and take it further and create one of the most chaotic albums I've had the honor of hearing.
Eternal Nightmare is openly influenced by Slayer, in fact guitarist Phil Demmel openly tells that he re-wrote sections of this album after hearing Reign in Blood, however as others have said, Vio-lence are far better than Slayer. The riffs of Robert Flynn and Phil Demmel are godly, but are generally of a similar vein, and run the risk of being boring as all the songs are of similar paces. But somehow every single song manages to be addictive and interesting, despite constant similarities.
This is in many ways due to the way in which the band manages to create a sound not dominated by a single instrument. Yes, the guitars are downright godly and stand out due to the sheer riffing perfection, but the bass is loud and the drumming of Perry Strickland is easily comparable to Lombardo's, and is possibly better, giving the album the depth which is needed to remain as timeless as it is.
However, the album is not flawless, Dean Dell's bass, which is loud enough for me to hear and notice, doesn't really add much as it simply follows the riffs. That's no easy task as the riffage here is about as hard as thrash guitar work gets, but it doesn't add to the sound too much. It's not really a negative, it's just not a huge positive. Secondly we have Sean Killian.
Some people see Mr Killian as an integral part of the band, and technically, he is, there aren't too many people who can spit out words that quick, and it is the speed of delivery is one thing which saves his annoying voice from ruining the album. The vocal lines on here are insane and strangely catchy. I personally prefer a deeper voice, but to deliver these speedy vocal lines Killian is needed. In fact, to replace him with a better vocalist would likely change the outlook of the songs, and possibly not for the better.
Also, the soloing is kind of average, it's not bad by any means, but it simply fails to catch the ear above the riffage. Soloing isn't that important anyway, it's the riffs that count here.
And the final flaw is the production, which goes a little past raw and into the realms of just plain bad. It is quite thin, which in many ways leaves the solos more hurt than what they should be. But as I mentioned earlier it's the riffs that are the draw on this album. Also the thin-ness of the album holds back a few of the more crushing sections. Such as the "Distorted features as I picked him off the road" section in "Calling in the Coroner" which still seems heavy as fuck, but just pleads for heavier production.
While these flaws are a little annoying, the worst of them, Sean Killian, is saved by the lyrics. Honestly, I'm not biggest fan of lyrics based on killing people or what not, it just seems stupid, and generally the humor which comes from reading rarely comes through in the actual song. Here I found myself simultaneously headbanging like I was retarded while laughing my ass off. There is some brilliant lyric work here, the previously mentioned line from "Calling in the Coroner" as well as the well known "Stand still and make my job easier", this sort of stuff is all over the album. The strangest thing is the Killian tends to change his voice up a little when ever he delivers the lines, so they stand out, and somehow seem cool, not just funny.
Overall, this album really HAS to be in every metal fan’s collection, no matter what, the riffage and the drumwork make this a near perfect effort, which still sounds original and fresh after nearly 20 years. The songs are varied in length, all have heaps of tempo changes, and there isn't a dud on here, in fact, I can't pick a best track... every song here is stunning, and the only drawbacks to the album are effects on the whole album. This is required listening.
I picked up the 2005 reissue of this simply because I love oldschool thrash and had never listened to Vio-Lence before. I always had heard Sean Killian was a terrible vocalist so I usually steered clear of checking them out. Wow, I was fucking wrong. This cd is simply the most Over-The-Top culmination of thrash metal. Nothing I have heard can rival the intensity, musicianship, or attitude of this cd. Not even Slayer at their most evil could handle this. Overkill, my personal favorite metal band, can not even hold a candle to the riff-onslaught that is this cd. If you don't have this, then for fucking fuck's sake go and kill for this. Not only does this epitomize thrash metal as it was in 1988 (and for all time) but promptly puts the foot in the ass of every band that has ever laid claim to calling themselves 'extreme'. This is extreme. I can only imagine that seeing this band live would probably be my final experience on this earth as my body would shut down from fatigue and cranial damage.
First track - Eternal Nightmare - fucking flawless...and it doesn't stop, you can beg and beg but the riffs keep on flying down your throat. Sean Killian is not a band vocalist...in fact, HE'S PERFECT. He spits out vocals like a machine gun to the face of the sane. Literally JUST listening to him is like a roller coaster ride in itself. On the flipside, ignoring him just makes the music crush all the more harder.
Then comes Serial Killer. Frantic as all hell. And when its over, you have no time to catch your breath as it is now...
PHOBOPHOBIA...one of the greatest thrashterpieces ever concieved by mortal men. Even if you have no intention of buying this album, download this. For the love of all things heavy, you must hear this song. Once again, flawless.
Then comes Calling In The Coroner, which does not relent...even if it has to follow Phobophobia, it pummels you with so many more riffs that you remember that you still have the rest of the cd to listen to and that the awesomeness was limited to just track 3. Great chorus here too...this song even kicks MORE ASS on the bonus live album. The studio version has this abrupt fade out though. It just sounds strange...like the song had more coming...
The Drug Song then rears its ugly head and it gets about as frenetic as Serial Killer, it hits a stride around 3:30 and becomes an unholy thrash monolith, with breakdowns galore.
Bodies on Bodies, continues the assault. Once again, starting off as complete insanity and settling into an assortment of riffs and catchy fucking vocals. Gang vocals abound on this one, with some crazy riffwork near the end. Including a spot where you think the song fades out and it comes right back at ya. At this point one can't even imagine how this could get any better.
KILL ON COMMAND. Fuck, how do they do it. I feel like school girl gushing about her crush with this album. Dear jesus...that thrash break at the end of this song is just about the most perfect piece of thrash ever created. WHY DID IT TAKE ME SO LONG TO BUY THIS!!??!? WHY!!!?!??!?!?!??
My god, the whole bonus cd rips as well, and Sean even sounds better. I don't know why anyone would waste their time with other bands when all the sheer intensity you wil even need in a single lifetime is right here. I don't care if Flynn went on to form Machine Head. That's completely forgivable given that at one point, Vio-Lence was destroying the world.
BUY...STEAL...TRADE...JUST GET THIS FUCKER.
Vio-lence first formed in 1985 with the core lineup of guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Perry Strickland. After a short-lived stint as Death Penalty, the group renamed themselves Violence after the arrivals of vocalist Sean Killian (who devised the two-tiered hyphenated logo in an attempt to copyright the name), and bassist Dean Dell (the second guitarist was Troy Fua, who would rejoin Vio-lence in their short-lived reunion phase 8 years after the band initially called it quits). After the arrival of second guitarist Robb Flynn (who'd finished a small stint in Forbidden), the group were signed by fledgling label Mechanic Records to record their debut album.
This is without a doubt one of the most frenzied and chaotic pieces of Bay Area thrash in existence. The group sounds barely cohesive, playing extremely fast and over the top. Even the two slower songs (Calling In The Coroner and Phobophobia) are very over the top and insane. It is a far cry from what members of the band would go on to play after the demise of Vio-lence (most notably Robb Flynn's post-Vio-lence project Machine Head, which makes it hard to imagine that he was a part of a band of this nature). This album saw Vio-lence become one of the last great bands in a scene that had since been flooded by a whole host of thrash bands.
Sean Killian (vocals) - Purely on technical terms, Killian is one of the worst thrash singers ever to step near a microphone (the only other singers I can think of that match him are Thorsten Bergmann of Living Death and Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies). He has very little to offer vocally. His high pitched yelping lacks the vocal range and tunefulness of Joey Belladonna or David Godfrey, the sheer attitude of Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth or Dave Mustaine, or the sheer ferocity of Paul Baloff or Tom Araya. The closest thrash singer he sounds like is a much weaker John Connelly. So how did a singer like him land a gig like this? Killian's high-pitched ranting takes on a deranged and psychotic feel, fitting in perfectly with the psychotic nature of the music.
Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn (guitars) - Long before they were reunited within the ranks of Machine Head, these guys would play riff after psychotic riff with extreme hyperactivity. They combined together to come up with some of the most insane riffs ever put to record, guaranteed to give any rhythm guitarist a heart-attack (that insane descending riff in the title track gets me every time). The leads are more advanced and structured than most bands, but still retain a scrappy rough quality (unlike bands such as Forbidden and Heathen). Excellent job from both men here.
Dean Dell (bass) - Dean Dell's bass carries an intimidating presence on this album, much like Dan Lilker and D.D. Verni do. He seems to follow the guitars a fair bit (considering the nature of the riffs here, it's no easy task!), but occasionally deviates slightly to add something to the mix. In some areas he experiments with power chords to fatten out the sound (most notably on Eternal Nightmare), but sticks to supplying a bludgeoning low end to the album.
Perry Strickland (drums) - Perry Strickland is perhaps the most important member of the band, and is perhaps the main reason that Vio-lence are as crazy as they are. His playing is most reminiscent of Dave Lombardo on crack, as he takes the same loose-cannon approach, but to a whole new extreme. Strickland for the most part plays very fast (mostly over 230bpm), adding in jaw-dropping fills everywhere he can. His rampant snare-drum abuse is everywhere, but most notably on the title track and closer Kill On Command. An excellent performance from a criminally under-rated drummer.
Production was handled by John Cuniberti, and he has done a competent job. The guitars are the most prominent aspect of the mix, being full, meaty and loud. The bass has some real presence, similar to Dan Lilker and D.D. Verni (and to a lesser extent Frank Bello). The only questionable aspects of the sound is that the lead guitar sounds a little thin, Perry Strickland's kit is often drowned in hi-hat, and Sean Killian is a little too prominent in the mix for my liking.
Eternal Nightmare - This cut kicks the disc off with a blistering start, featuring the main tenets of Vio-lence's sound prominently, the insane riffs and destructive drumming. This track features a particularly nasty descending riff occuring throughout the song, and some good soloing toward the middle.
Phobophobia - This song is long and multifaceted, brimming with time changes. A fast opening section gives way to a more mid-tempo section. At 3 minutes in it becomes slower and more atmospheric, capped off with some melodic lead work. After this, it picks up with a devastating fast section, before going into another mid-tempo section filled with chunky riffing and some lead lines over the top. This song is the most different from the rest of the album, but it definitely earns its place here.
T.D.S. (Take It As You Will) - Perhaps the most deranged song on the album. Riff after riff is laid down over grinding bass and pounding drums. Killian's vocals are particularly frantic during this song (an ode to the growing drug problem. Figures really). The song slows down toward the end, and Killian gets particularly menacing toward the end, finishing in a sickly gurgle "And don't point your finger..."
Kill On Command - An excellent closing track which annihilates all in it's path. Fast riffing and fast drumming supporting Killian yelping absolutely hilarious lyrics about the life of a professional hitman ("With my crosshatch on his chest you can probably guess the rest when you see his lifeless body hit the fucking street!"). It slows down just after the middle, at which point it becomes a moshing groove where Killian continues his deranged ramblings ("Stand still and make my job easier!"). This closes with an insane fast paced riffset which gradually increases in speed and general insanity.
If you can get past the vocals, this is a very intense and deranged slice of prime Bay Area thrash, Most serious thrash-heads worship this album, and it's not at all hard to see why. This is essential to all those interested in high energy riff/drum driven thrash metal.
The West Coast thrash scene comprised a fairly wide range of sound–a quick overview of bands calls up the straightforward thrashing of Metallica and Testament, melodic speed-influenced tunes by Heathen and Forbidden, Slayer and Dark Angel's uncompromising brutality, the mad riff-collections produced by Death Angel and Exodus, and several more besides. But for strange constructions and sheer mental irregularities (read: insanity), nobody on the Pacific coastline could beat Vio-Lence.
It's hard to put one's finger on exactly what makes Eternal Nightmare and Vio-Lence so fucked up, but it's definitely there. The most obvious cause is Sean Killian, who has one of the strangest singing voices in metal, a hoarse yelp charged with punk rock attitude and a tendency to travel up and down throughout his limited range of notes several times per verse. It takes a little while to get used to, but Mr. Killian's singing works the same way as Dave Mustaine's–sure, he's not very good, but you can't imagine the band without him.
Beyond the vocals, the construction of many of Phil Demmel's riffs is just plain odd–take the really strange things going on under the verses in the title track, or the jerky up-down intro to "Phobophobia," or the absolutely twisted shrieking intro riff in "T.D.S." (On a side note, how great is the title "The Drug Song"? It's like "We need a song about drugs, dudes. Let's just call it the drug song!" Hilarious. Pardon the digression.) Also worth noting in "T.D.S." are the odd song structure and a subtle touch of madness in the drums–whether intentionally or not, the hi-hat seems to be lagging behind the snare drum a bit. Just a 32nd note or so, not enough to throw off the time, but enough to give the unwary listener a good case of "What the fucking fuck?"
Weirdness attended to, it is also this reviewer's duty to point out that Nightmare is a really great album. The band is capable of creating not just weird, but good songs, and they are filled with neck-destroying riffs and and frenetic lead guitar, as well as Perry Strickland's brilliantly unpredictable drumming. "Bodies On Bodies" has a great start-stop bit near the beginning that is guaranteed whiplash, and the "BODIES! ON BODIES! ON BODIES!" group chant is fist-pumping, beer-spilling excellence. Hell, all the gang vocals on Nightmare rule.
"Calling In the Coroner" is probably the most straightforward song on the disc, pounding away at a slightly faster than average tempo with vicious vocals and a truly sinister breakdown at 2:21. That guitar riff is so utterly evil I have to keep my finger near the Pause button whenever it comes up in case it tries to kill me again.
The total highlight of the album is "Phobophobia," which follows up the aforementioned intro riff with a slight slowdown and an AWESOME descending guitar part. The vocals in the chorus-ish bit (1:20, 2:09, etc) are spat out at a near-inhuman pace, and at 2:55 comes an epic, Persistence of Time-style breakdown riff that is nearly lost in the somewhat thin, drum-heavy 80s production. The lead work on this song, as with most of the album, is a little light on the melody and high on the aggressively fast note-punching, though nowhere near a Kerry King or even Jeff Hanneman in terms of unmusicality. The leadup to the last verse beginning around the five-minute mark is a brilliant piece of guitar orchestration, somewhere in between rhythm and lead. A truly excellent song.
As with some other albums I've reviewed, pointing out individual songs gets difficult due to the chaotic nature of the songwriting, which sort of jams the whole album into an insane collection of schizophrenic riffs and rabid-dog-yipping vocals. It's a strange album, no doubt, but also a really great one that can be enjoyed simply on the level of "BANG YER FUCKEN HEAD!" without even trying to catch the subtleties. And of course it's out of print extremely rare, so if you see it anywhere–for instance, at a local used CD shop for five bucks (*smirk*)–do your best to pick it up. The awesome cover art is worth it.
Oh, and because there was no logical place to fit it into the review, I'll just stick it here: fuck Machine Head.
GODDAMMIT!!! I don't care what anyone says, some bands just don't deserve to be thrown into obscurity.
Vio-lence is not an obscure band per se, but how many so called thrashers never heard of them, or an album by them? I'm sure that if your local thrash scene sucks, then they lack some serious culture on fast and ripping audio. What is fast and ripping exactly? Something that is so accelerated that it completely rips your skin appart solely because of the effect.
What is Eternal Nightmare? Something that fullfills the need of mayhem and destruction that every self-respecting thrasher has. Something incredibly fast and intensely ripping. This albums begins with riff annihilation and ends in exactly the same way, endlessly shifting patterns, from whiplash-inducing "Kill 'Em All" type riffage to more advanced guitar work. This band isn't as technical as Nocturnus or later Death, but the riffs are complicated enough AND they do not lose the focus, making this one of the most consistent thrash records I ever heard.
Some might have problems with the vocals, but I don't see what's the big deal with them. These are standard thrash vocals with some crossover influences, so you know these are going to be fast, spitting out 5847474 words a minute. The guitar players prove that they can be quite good at soloing, but is the fucking RIFFAGE that counts and very much so.
Recommended to anyone remotely interested in thrash metal beyond the so-called "big four".
When I hear Eternal Nightmare I wonder why Vio-Lence isn't heavy metal hall of fame material (if such a place existed...). This is high caliber thrash that time forgot. A shame too, since there are enough killer riffs here to supply lesser bands for 3 albums. Eternal Nightmare pretty much embodies what ruled about thrash... a cartoonishly sinister album cover, lyrics describing real life horrors as opposed to fantasy, and songs that make saps like me wish they had long hair again.
First things first... imagine a talking ferret... feed this ferret some speed... give him a microphone. Thats what Vio-Lence frontman Sean Killian sounds like. His frantic delivery recalls HR from hardcore legends the Bad Brains, in a good way. Songs like "Phobophobia" and my personal favorite "Serial Killer" benefit from his spazz-outs, making for distinct and memorable thrash.
Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn (pre dreadlocks) play hard and fast... "Eternal Nightmare" is a rhythm guitarists wet dream. There is a dissappointing dearth of grooves, however... asides from "Calling in the Coroner". Either way, its potent stuff. I can't wait until Vio-Lence reunites... and Death Angel and Heathen. While many Bay Area thrashers continued throughout the 90s to varying effects, I feel those 3 have alot of metal to offer the world yet.
*Interesting note... the thank yous list as many punk and hardcore bands as they do metal. Here's to crossover!
Damn this album fucken rules!! Imagine all the poor Machine Head kiddies out there that a) have never heard it, or worse (better?) 2) did hear it, and they promptly expired. This album is pure fucking thrash. Over-the-top vocals, and of course lots and lots of riffs, and all this delivered at about 284 beats per minute. Oh and catchy too. Damn, this album is executed flawlessly.
The third time you listen to this, you will be able to sing along to the vocal lines, because the songs really are that memorable. Of course it will take you about 20 more listens, carefully reading the lyrics booklet, before any of the ACTUAL words will make sense to you. That's okay though, it's called a learning experience, so hold your voice and don't point your finger!!
Highlights include: "TDS (Take it as You WIll)" - TDS actually stands for "The Drug Song", and wouldn't you know it, it's about drugs. Then there is "Kill on Command" with that beautiful ode to professional hitmen... "Stand still, it'll make my job easier!"
The only thing that makes this album a bit short of flawless is the fact that some of the songs do tend to be a bit similar - but hey, they got it right, why fuck with it? (There is more variety on "Oppressing the Masses", and consequently that album is just a tinge weaker. Damn, oh well.) So get this album now, it's 36 minutes of happy headbanging fun.
Oh and if you don't like the vocals, listen to the riffs instead. It's that simple.