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Regarding Carpet-bombing and cult thrashing. - 75%

hells_unicorn, November 26th, 2013

There was a fair amount of buzz regarding the whole tape trading craze that paved the way for thrash metal's reign throughout the 80s, but by and large, media outlets tended to limit their focus on bands that were later signed and given a higher grade studio production. Everybody can recount the iconic demos out of Metallica, Megadeth, Overkill and a few others, but less widely recalled were a collection of bands that decided to go it completely alone, thus coming out with an onslaught of entirely independent productions that bore a level of resemblance to a lot of the iconic 1st wave of black metal releases of the early 80s that ushered in the careers of Celtic Frost (then Hellhammer) and Sodom, for example. These bands are not regularly hyped in present thrash metal circles given the extremely archaic production sound, but a few of them do occasionally pop up, of which Dresden is a reasonably known attraction.

In many respects, "Too Many Skeletons" could be likened to a demo after the mold of early Discharge with a slight hint of early speed metal in the mold of Motorhead and Exciter. The riff work is a bit restrained and punk-like in character, often dancing around 3 or 4 chords at any given time without a whole lot of elaboration. Case and point, "In Fear Of God", which literally listens like it could have been lifted off of "Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing" and dressed up with a little bit of guitar noodling. Similar musical stories are told on "Life On The Edge" and "It's Your Funeral", both of which are painted with plenty of hardcore cliches, including raunchy bass and drum breaks and a less gruff driven yet still dirty punk yell out of vocalist Joe Dias.

This isn't to say that this album is a full out crossover affair, as further inspection reveals a number of overt thrashers that are way too busy and elaborate for standard hardcore. "Black Riders" gives the first hint that these guys are the real deal as it hits territory similar to Metallica's "Motorbreath", complete with a matching vocal performance, yet tackles it at a tempo a bit too fast for Hetfield yet right up the alley of Mustaine during the "Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good" days. Crunchier thrashers like "Firestorm" and "Starvation" also hint at an early Metallica/Megadeth influence, though they are a bit less complex, as if being reinterpreted by a hardcore band with reasonably solid instrumental chops. Towards the close of the album things get a bit more complex, almost as if a slight hint of Rush and Iron Maiden had sneaked into the arrangement (see "Open Your Eyes").

Finding a physical copy of this album will likely range in difficulty from nearly impossible to a prospect of literally absolute zero, but it does exist in distribution in digital form on the internet. It's the sort of album that most thrash fans might not fall in love with given its extremely low-fi character and heavy reliance upon attitude meshed with occasional fits of technical brilliance, but is definitely one that should be heard at least once for its historical significance. All in all, this is basically thrash metal for Black Flag fans, and there is probably a sizable market in the current generation that remains untapped.

A bit iffy, but decent - 72%

The_Boss, December 10th, 2008

Dresden are one of those random thrash metal bands that were forgotten in the passing years, thrown back in time behind the bigger names that they took their influence from. Their debut, Too Many Skeletons, is a fun blend of thrashing intensity under an early Megadeth style mixed with the earliest 2 Iron Maiden albums and the traditional vibe combined with an overall punkish/crossover style theme. It's hard to say that this is too fast for a full on crossover/punk album with bands like DRI and Cryptic Slaughter, but it's mostly the traditional sped up riffing style of Iron Maiden and those of that ilk.

The musicianship here is competent and what I would hope for on a mostly thrash album. Guitarists riffing over one another playing most full speed the whole time, bringing in the "speed metal" moniker, being a rawer and semi-watered down version of Exciter. The lead guitar work here is great, with plenty of shredding solos all over the place like in Its Your Funeral. The production is utter shit, so the guitars are higher in the mix than the rest, with drums and bass very low sounding somewhat muddled and simple. The rhyhtms and beats are as simple and easy as it gets, but when it's at a faster pace it's better. Life on the Edge starts off mid paced and boring but kicks it up a notch and brings in the thrash/speed element once again to kick some ass.

The individual songs here are mostly good, opening with the title track, being catchy as hell and the vocals have a nasally but somewhat weak sound. Black Riders is one of the better songs on here, once again showing the speed metal vibe that takes over and bringing this album up. This is a short album, barely over 30 minutes long, being a fun listen every now and then. I have to complain about the annoying production, very weak and annoying trying to pick out the bass and that annoying drumming pattern. Foremost is the guitars which are great so that's a good thing at least, but the vocals also high in the mix are pretty bad. The gang shouted back up vocals are really cool, but the lead vocalist just plain sucks. Sometimes he's barely trying and others he's just talking. On Sounds of Silence it's at the peak of annoying, it starts off slow where he's attempting to "sing" but then picks up and you're thinking, "Oh cool it gets good now!" then... slows down again. Ugh, stop singing! The album closes with Dirge, an instrumental song full of nonstop riffing and some almost great lead guitar work, almost neo-classical! There's plenty of sweeps, shredding and overall insanity! It's almost like Rigor Mortis came into town riding on Vic Rattlehead's back, it's just that awesome; if only the whole album was that good.

Too Many Skeletons was crafted in the great year of 1986, so it's not so sad to say why it was left behind in the wreckage of other great releases. I've never even heard of their label or even any previous bands the members were in, so good luck finding this. When Dresden plays at a full non stop speed metal assault, then you're up for some great asskicking, but the slower and midpaced moments are just plain cringeworthy, especially the vocalist. If Dresden had gotten put on a better label, canned the vocalist and gotten a real shrieker/singer with a better production, they could have made it at least to a redeemable underground status. But don't expect anything too amazing here, this is a forgotten thrash debut that has some redeeming qualities, but isn't too high of importance in the end.

Unique speed crossover sound - 86%

captain_blade, May 2nd, 2005

I wish I knew more about this band like where they're from, and who their influences where because this album of theirs,"Too Many Skeletons" is really a unique speed - crossover classic. I say speed metal but it's also so much punk sounding. Listening to these guys is kind of like a cross between the Dead Boys, Megadeth, and Elvis Hitler.

Mostly midpaced stuff, with a couple of speedy ones, "Black Riders" really stands out in my mind as the best track. Plenty of riot vocals and guitar solos to keep a guy interested.

You could compare these guys to Holy Terror, except minus the shredding speed. Guitar solos are however melodic and proficient, much like early Iron Maiden.

I like this album. It's got a mood all to it's own. Somewhat of a dark, yet not too depressing mood. A cover of a classic rock ballad "The Sound of Silence" is in my opinion well done, turning most of the song into a speedy metal version.

I would recommend giving this one a try if you come across it.