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A New Hope for the Good Old Thrash - 79%

bayern, August 10th, 2018

It’s a pity that this act is largely known as the one where Twiggy Ramirez, Marilyn Manson’s right hand, has come from. The real name of this musician is Jeordie White, and he was doing a very good job pulling the six strings on the demo(s) reviewed here alongside the band founder and only permanent member Dan Fontana. The band name remains a mystery up to this day; scholars and linguists are still beating their heads as to what its meaning could be…

The guys shot those demos in quick succession in the early-90’s as the three cuts from the first demo later found their way into the second one which closes on nearly half an hour, featuring capably executed classic Bay-Area thrash (think Metallica, Testament). The sprightly vigorous gallops of "Balance of Power" will also remind of Heathen's debut, but it's darker more brooding music that is introduced later with the more intense and more complex "Edge of Darkness" and the riff-dense, more technical shredder "Picture Perfect" which nervy staccato rhythm-section will also recall the Norwegian progressive thrash wizards Equinox. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is a more optimistic, more linear headbanger, and "Winds of Change" is, of course, a cover of the Scorpions megahit... kidding here, but this cut is also a ballad or rather a semi-ballad, trying to stay close to Metallica's lofty models in the trend ("Sanitarium", "One") the guys livening up for a bursting speedy skirmish towards the end. "Overthrown" also treads less dynamic semi-balladic waters for a bit, but comes "Take the Pain" and the headbanging atmosphere is brought back with full force only to be lost on another balladic proposition, "Meaning of Mind".

The guys overdo it a bit in the second half with the adherence to less eventful, balladic/semi-balladic nuances that stifle the more aggressive ways of expression making Fontana, who also serves as the vocalist, change his vociferous intense semi-shouty approach to better suit the mellower moments; the man by all means does a good job on those although his nature are clearly the more spiteful curt tirades that would remind of both James Hetfield and Chuck Billy at various times. He started impersonating the former even more on the official release which wasn’t exactly a “new hope” as the delivery was half swallowed by the modern groovy/post-thrashy trends with sparkles of the classic vigour of old providing the more interesting moments. Not a bad effort by any stretch, with White already departed to join the Marilyn Manson eclectic crew, it failed to capture both the more complex and the more energetic flair of the band’s earlier endeavours, remaining a curious footnote in the 90’s one-album-wonder archives, right next to the only other stint the guys put their signatures under during the 90’s, Type-Zero, a very short-lived formation with a style rooted in the 80’s thrash/crossover canons (one demo in 1992).

The posthumous re-release of the demo material in 2004 was a nice way to introduce the band’s more convincing creative period to the new generation of metalheads who may not have so many reserves regarding the strange moniker. The scholars and the linguists are still beating their heads over it, mind you; hopefully one day some of them will at least come closer to deciphering it…