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“…I’m in a nightmare and it’s gonna burn tonight…”
Almost two years would blow by before the quartet would condemn another studio with a blast of new material. Voivod would spend much of that time touring in support of their ’84 debut, jumped from Metal Blade to Combat Records, and apparently spent the remainder taking most of the musicality that fleetingly decorated War and Pain and winging it into outer space.
Musically, the Thrashing Rage ep is a near calamity of songwriting; a basic, unadorned skyscraper built in double time and with workmanship shoddy enough to have it teetering within moments. Now, having a sound that's raw, tangled, and brutal has been the springboard for many a band’s career, but what happens when the din comes off as incohesive, careless, and most importantly, indistinct as this? Well, either the spring or the board breaks.
With the debut, many people leveled crosshairs on a Venom likeness. Venom, Motorhead, incorrigible punk…while weaving in and out of separate lanes, they’re all pretty much crammed onto the same section of the freeway. With this short release, the Venom-isms are especially apparent and ready for more finger-pointing, but those three guys could write an infective song in their sleep. Sure, War and Pain is miles away from the poster boy of fancy songwriting, but in the style of the band's influences there is an addictive mold spore, an element in that style of songwriting that replays songs in your mind. Three of these tracks squash the spore and banish that element from the band’s periodic table. One song tries to revive the spore with a hatchet, then sends out a search and rescue team that really couldn't care less.
If “Thrashing Rage” and “Slaughter in a Grave” had appeared on the debut, they would’ve made for easily annoying filler tracks. Neither track does much to distance itself from the other, happy to aimlessly churn like two cement mixers full of someone’s leftover aluminum siding. Just about everything in “To the Death” is uninteresting: single dimension drumwork, mish-mash riffing, and non-structures with vocals to match - too pointless to live. The only track remotely treading the muck in this quagmire is “Helldriver”, surviving by its semblance of a structure and gleam of catchiness, yet is still uninspiring and frankly isn’t worth saving.
I was sooo glad to hear these four lovers had taken up space in the follow-up, RRROOOAAARRR, which I would begrudgingly get on cassette cheap sometime down the line. I would actually rather listen to Oz's debut...or N.M.E..
Look at them on the back – fearless, full of hope, ready for action. That thing on Blackie’s arm could kill a rhino. Sigh.