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Unborn Again is the first Whiplash album to be recorded after the unfortunately passing of bassist Tony Bono, who was with the band all through their 'Three Tony' years and beyond. I had lost much interest in this band after their third album Insult to Injury, but they plugged away in the 90s and produced a few more mediocre works with various lineups. Unborn Again is their 7th full-length, and though it does occasionally delve back into the band's earlier style from Ticket to Mayhem and Insult to Injury, a lot of that early energy is admittedly lost here.
This is not to say that the band are not still capable of producing some moments, as in the rocking if constrained opener "Swallow the Slaughter", the old school thrashing charms of "Float Face Down", or closing speed metal "Feeding Frenzy". But there are tracks here which feel rather half-assed and unnecessary. "Hook in Mouth" is a swaggering, bluesy bore which borders on goofy. "Firewater' tries to do big Sabbath riffs with an American Indian theme, but comes off like a bad stoner impersonation. And the cover of Montrose's "I've Got the Fire" may not feel entirely tacked on, since many of the songs bear a heavy rock'n'blues influence, but...well...it's hardly exemplary...especially when Portaro incants: I've got the mother fuckin' fire. Really?
Joe Cangelosi's drumming is par for the course, he gives it a lot of energy, but the riffs on this album are rarely worth it. Tony Portaro is still a competent axeslinger, but his vocals are all over the place...from lame, lurching blues melodies to the thrash that we want to hear from him. Nowhere near the level of his earlier performances, or Glenn Hansen's vocals on Insult to Injury. I'm happy to see Whiplash trekking on into the 21st century, but it would seem the band grows ever more distant from the triumvirate of early albums that set them up. Unborn Again is even less interesting than the mediocre albums they released in the previous decade. It's unfortunate.
Highlights: Swallow the Slaughter, Float Face Down, Feeding Frenzy