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One of the oft overlooked and forgotten bands from the ‘80s thrash metal scene is Whiplash. Drawing its origins from the same east coast scene that spawned Anthrax, Overkill and Nuclear Assault, Whiplash unfortunately has not become a metal household name as its former contemporaries have become. The last time we heard from these thrash veterans was via their best of/compilation album “Messages in Blood” way back in 1999.
The thrash renaissance of the recent years has not only infused the scene with fresh blood but has also resurrected the dormant thrash entities of yesteryears. Whiplash is the latest band to reawake from its dormancy to once again bestow upon us their vicious thrash attack. Longtime members Tony Portaro and Joey Cangelosi are joined by new member Rich Day who replaces Tony Bono who passed away back in ’02.
“Unborn Again” does not have the immediacy of impact as most thrash metal albums have. It took me several spins to finally ‘get’ what Whiplash was trying to do in their comeback album. The first stumbling block for me was Portaro’s vocals which are a bit of an acquired taste. He sounds strained on majority of the tracks and whiny on a few. After repeated spins, I was able to tolerate his vocals as I opted to concentrate on the guitar riffs. That latter statement is the key to appreciating “Unborn Again”. Whiplash has not lost its flair for writing great thrash metal songs anchored on great riffs. This album is full of such songs, from the opener “Swallow the Slaughter” to strong mid-album tracks “Float Face Down”, “Fight or Flight”, “Pitbulls in the Playground” to closer “Feeding Frenzy”. The entire album seems a bit underwhelming at first but grows on you after repeated spins. And based from my experience, it’s the ‘growers’ that end up having lots of repeated spins on my music player.
So what is Whiplash trying to do on “Unborn Again”? They’re certainly not staging a comeback to out-thrash the new generation of bands trying to carve a name in a crowded scene. Rather, Whiplash is merely re-establishing its name in the metal world after years of neglect and omission. “Unborn Again” is a positive step in the right direction for this veteran band.