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Invest in toothpicks, things are getting chunky. - 83%

sparklewhooves1, May 11th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2001, CD, Metal Mind Productions

Much like your creepy uncle who touches the cat at Christmas, this album refuses to be ignored. From the hairy bass to the constant rolling of R's, this is quite the homebrew New York album. In the never ending maelstrom of the NYHC scene, very little metal spawned. And though bands like Nuclear Assault, Overkill, and Anthrax would inadvertently benefit from this birthing ground, punk seemed to run the circus. That is, until then Fallout vocalist/bassist Peter Steele decided to take a road trip down the crossover highway. And even more surprisingly in a PRE crossover world. D.R.I was still seen in the metal community as "That one band that makes me seem eclectic." And their first two albums were nearly totally devoid of anything metallic. But having been bred surrounded by bands like Cro Mags and Agnostic Front, who delved a bit into metallic elements, gave an open door opportunity for the first crossover record of the scene. And even still, this was quite different from the crossover that would be spawned in the next 3 years.

The record seems to be hinged on two opposing axis, doom and thrash for the metal side, and hardcore and crust for the other leaning balance. And mind you, this was 7 years before the debut of Obedience Thru Suffering (arguably the first sludge metal record). But much like the works of Eyehategod and Crowbar, this record soaks and bathes itself in musical staccato. A ceremony of opposites if you will. Songs like "Predator" begin with the chugging train riffs of your typical thrash song before going into straight Saint Vitus territory after the bridge. Bringing the song to a slug-paced halt. That having been said however, this is very much more a metal record than punk (unlike their next release). You need to nitpick a bit to find the usual suspects of hardcore. Songs like "Armageddon" have your usual stir pot of slide and stop punk riffs, while still caught on the fish hook of the turtle paced anvil. Drumming is pretty much die cast for these changes, and places itself in the center of the whirlpool, occasionally sneezing out some punk d-beats. But I don't think it was the tempo innovation that made this record the immense influential giant that it's considered today.

Personality pretty much drips from this album's soiled trousers. And much like a senior citizen in a diaper, everything seems to run loose. By that I mean that Peter Steele just BELTS out his lyrics. Those familiar with his Type O Negative works (and trust me I am) will feel a sense of whiplash equivalent to seeing your mother ride off on a motorcycle with the ratty janitor who beats your dog. This was before the Petrus decided to rub some melody cream on his voice, and the zits are still there. Not to down talk that, a little acne on your voice can make for a raw and punished delivering of mouth-instrumentals. And much like Martin Van Drunen was to death metal vocalists, Peter would be to your usual thrash-barkers. There is a healthy amount of dirt soaked in pure sonic PAIN. It sounds like each lyric cuts his throat wide open, and he spurts blood to the awaiting microphone. Laryngitis is diagnosed, and in the case of this record, is condoned. Though sore throats aside, there is skill in both the vocals and dirty instrumentals. Songwriting is by far the main focus, not so much technical ability.

I love how songs like "Male Supremacy" and "Thermo Nuclear Warrior" can just punch through the wall with these muted power chords that remind me more of a Scorpions record than an offspring of thrash. And their scratchiness isn't the least bit unfounded. Nothing on this album comes off as hollow or plastic. No, there is certainly filling, though sadly that includes some filler. Though songs like "Legion of Doom" and "Thermo Nuclear Warrior" fit the atmosphere and tone of the album, they come off a bit repetitive in the grand scheme of things. They're the only two on this album that I could find myself skipping, other than that, it's pretty much all quality. Soloing is rare and not very good. You would almost they rather not put any in at all at some points. Like said with "Thermo Nuclear Warrior" there is a slightly pathetic and whiny solo near the end that sounds like a slightly sad and incompetent scale run. They kind of bring the songs down a slight bit, though not enough to full on penalize the entire album for it.

Solo Impotence aside, everything fits up to the thrash standard of 1985. Pissed and blunt vocals, apparent and booming bass, crunched and rocky guitar tone, and drumming that stays interesting enough that I won't develop narcolepsy. And the extreme mix of tempos and how they seem to naturally contrast, keeps this album in a world of it's own. The developing sound of the band would go on to influence many bands of the New Orleans scene in years to come, giving us many a gem. So for all it's flaws and rough edges, I'd say that this album is pretty much worth the buy, especially for doom and sludge enthusiasts.