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Aragon > Aragon > Reviews
Aragon - Aragon

Short But Sweet - 91%

ThrashFanatic, April 26th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1988, 12" vinyl, Brokin'

Aragon is arguably one of the most underrated thrash bands of all time. They played thrash in a way that was similar to Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, Laaz Rockit, and Razor. The band had only one release, which was their self-titled debut which was released exclusively to vinyl. Despite the short duration of the record, it is jam packed with hyper thrash and punky speed. The themes include nuclear holocaust, insanity, violence, and death. The record would sadly remain hidden in obscurity, and virtually no one except the die-hard thrasher have heard of these guys.

The production on this record is pretty decent for what it is. The bass is audible, the guitars have a distinct crunch, and the drums aren't dry sounding. Frank MacKay did a great job on the production. Rob Andersen's vocals fit well with Aragon's rebellious thrash sound, and his vocals sound like a hybrid mix of John Connelly of Nuclear Assault and Joey Belladonna of Anthrax.

The songs here are truly classic. "Fallout" begins with a neat bass line from Vinny Ciminera, before Andersen screams "FALLOUT!". The riffs of Mike Pope then assault the listener's ears, this track is the best song on the whole album. "Blood Thirsty" continues the thrash assault with some vicious riffs and aggressive vocals, which is followed by a nice acoustic instrumental titled "Straight Jacket". "Straight Jacket" then leads into "Simply Deranged", which contains more intense riffs and vocals. My least favorite track is "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone", which is a rather goofy cover of The Monkees. They thrash it up however near the end, with some very fast drumming and a thrashy version of the main riff. Aragon also must have really liked Iron Maiden because the solo and bass line during the middle section of "Killing The Innocent" is extremely similar to Maiden's "Phantom Of The Opera". Hell, the bass line is pretty much lifted directly out of the book of Steve Harris. Influence aside, this track is an excellent way to close out this forgotten gem.

Aragon deserved more recognition for their talents. The songs they wrote on this record had huge potential, and they could of easily reached the heights of the other thrash bands if they had a better record label and more promotion. At least we have this record, so we can enjoy 22 minutes of cult classic thrash. I recommend this for fans of Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, Acrophet, Overkill, and Exodus.

Highlights: "Fallout", "Straight Jacket/Simply Deranged", "Fear For Your Life" and "Killing The Innocent"

Cracking the skull of the moon. - 83%

hells_unicorn, April 11th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1988, 12" vinyl, Brokin'

Amid the tidal wave of thrash metal acts that began popping up throughout the continental United States by 1988, things seemed to get a bit lop-sided when comparing the success of bands hailing from the west coast versus the other hotbed of thrash in and around the Big Apple, which was having the likes of Illinois and Texas nipping on its heels in terms of substantial thrash LP output. Nevertheless, the big names of Overkill, Nuclear Assault and Anthrax were not alone in their craft in the cold northeast, though much of their compatriots like Carnivore, M.O.D., Cro-Mags, Crumbsuckers and Leeway were definitely bent in more of a hardcore/crossover direction. Still, a handful of lesser known and sadly short-lived outfits like Toxic, I.N.C. and E-X-E (formerly Executioner) stuck far closer to the metallic side of the coin and have since achieved varying degrees of cult status that has since seen all three of said acts reform and begin putting out new material. A recent addition to the comeback kid club is a far more obscure act out of NYC dubbed Aragon that fielded a very short yet highly effective display of hyper-paced thrashing that should have made them a household name.

Billed as a four-piece outfit with only one guitarist (a distinction reserved to the 80s incarnation of Overkill), this is a band that understands the necessary talent needed to make said arrangement work. The constant battery of the drums is executed with militaristic precision, opting for a generally fast and busy approach that leans a bit towards the punk-infused approach of Nuclear Assault and some of the more hardcore leaning New York outfits of the day, though employing a slightly greater degree of machine gun double bass work that is definitely up Charlie Benante's alley. The bass work is notably present in the mix and is about as smooth and fluid as they come, inter-playing with the guitars in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Cliff Burton but minus the distortion and wah-pedal noise. The vocal work of Rob Anderson is generally high pitched and poised, almost like a slightly shriller answer to Joey Belladonna with a tad bit of Mark Osegueda on the side. But the real prowess of this outfit is guitarist Mike Pope, who lays down speed infused madness and neck-crushing riff work at a pace reserved for the likes of Wehrmacht and Cryptic Slaughter, but with a wild soloing approach reminiscent of Slayer circa Show No Mercy.

From start to finish, Aragon can be best described as a sub-23 minute explosion of youthful thrashing exuberance that manages to throw a heap of ideas into a package that approaches EP territory. Probably the most viciously fast thrasher of the bunch is "Blood Thirsty", which rockets forth and refuses to take its foot off the accelerator, hitting a lot of similar points to Tankard's Zombie Attack with about twice the bass activity a heavier amount of lead guitar noise. This isn't to say that the punchy speeder and opener "Fallout" and the riff happy cruiser "Simply Deranged" are any slouches in the speed department, the latter being preceded by a surprisingly serene and proficient classical guitar interlude in "Straight Jacket" that displays a level of versatility not often heard in more speed metal-oriented thrash efforts. Things take a bit off an odd stylistic left-turn with the occasionally thrashing but largely mid-paced rendition of "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" by The Monkees, a probable nod to the precedent Megadeth set with their Nancy Sinatra cover back in 1985. Ironically enough, the closing songs seem to have a bit more of an earlier, almost NWOBHM-tinged flavor to them comparable to Kill 'Em All, as if the band had ordered the songs on this album in a reverse chronological way relative to when they were written.

It's a testament to the wide popularity and quick saturation of the original thrash metal scene that this band didn't get more buzz in the New York scene, because this album definitely displays the potential for them to go head to head with and even surpass some of the slightly more prolific second tier bands to hit the scene outside of the west coast. Though they would call it quits soon after this album was recorded and spend the better part of three decades away from the music scene, a lasting impression was left by Aragon for those who had heard this album or would hear it in the coming years, as a strong enough buzz has developed over the past few years for them to reform and float the very real possibility of more material. Praises should be given to the internet for not only opening up a wider array of metal musicians to connect with their audience in a near zero-scarcity environment, but also in resurrecting a number of bands for a second go-around. The naysayers are free to drone on about how the thrash revival has been dead for years, the rest of us can tune them out and bang our heads to the classics of both yesterday and today, and Aragon may yet prove to have a classic of tomorrow waiting in the wings, if this underground monster of an album is any indication.

Blood thirsty for moshing - 86%

raspberrysoda, November 23rd, 2015

Who the fuck has ever heard of Aragon? New York wasn't a fertile ground for thrash metal, and with Anthrax and Nuclear Assault already ruling the local scene and gaining worldwide recognition, Aragon-y bands definitely had a few to zero recognition, and I can only imagine these guys playing in front of a seven people crowd that praise their work and then forget about them a day later.

Despite of their obscurity, Aragon had great potential and could have reached further if they hadn't broke up in the end of the 80's. The NYHC and Slayer are recogniseable throughout the entire duration of this album, and especially in Fallout and the Reign In Blood-y Simply Deranged. The guitars, almost Voivod-ish, execute very brutal thrash riffs that are a bit progressive and have a tinge of a NWOBHM sound to them (such as in Fear For Your Life) and are accompanied by Araya-y bass lines that do not fall from quality of the original.

The thing that defies the album's quality the best is definitely the drums. The crossover thrash influences and NHYC breaks are everywhere in the album and enhance the riffs, and make all of the songs extremely mosh-able and fun to listen to. Even the classic rock tune, I'm Not Your Stepping Stone (one of the definitive highlights of this album), is turned into a frenzy moshable mayhem of that vein. The vocals aren't disappointing either, and sound something between Paul Dianno and James Hetfield which fit the album's speed/thrash straightforward attitude. The production is pure underground, but enhances the bass and makes the instruments quite stable compared to the drums. If you want a slab of underground NYHC influenced thrash, or if you just want to mosh for 22 minutes in your bedroom, this album is definitely for you.