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Civilization seems to have survived - 73%

autothrall, March 30th, 2011

California thrash was already very near capacity by the time the Evildead rolled out their debut album, several of its pioneers having achieved enormous international success. Whereas overseas, bands like Coroner, Kreator and Mekong Delta were expanding the very notion of what the genre could accomplish, the West Coast artists, which, aside from a few New York area standouts would represent almost our entire thrash vanguard, and they seemed to dwell on little more than amplify the aggression level of their primed predecessors. Such is the case for Annihilation of Civilization, a lethal and competent enough effort that suffers simply from having already been handled better by artists like Exodus, Testament, Vio-Lence and Forbidden.

Don't get me wrong, this is not at all a bad release, and in fact it remains my favorite from Juan Garcia's 2nd most prominent project (after Agent Steel, of course). Authentic, savage guitar work is driven to the point of collision through a number of dynamics, greatly expanding upon the teasers from the prior Rise Above EP. They tend to mix up the speed sequences with mid paced, writhing riffs ala "Living Good", "Future Shock" or "Parricide", but this album works best when its meting out high amounts of testicular fuel via "Unauthorized Exploitation" or "Gone Shooting", each of which would have sounded right at home on Eternal Nightmare with Sean Killian singing. Often, they'll just blow the mold entirely and batter the listener with sheer, blustered force as in "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again (aka B.O.H.I.C.A.)" and opener "The Awakening".

Combined, the contents present a fully functional third string thrash band that can easily sate the cravings of those who pine for the artists I name dropped above, but rarely if ever do the individual riffs stand out as monoliths of memorable writing. I also must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of Flores' vocals here. He's enforced by shouting backups and has often sauces them with a respectable sneer, but otherwise it's your stock shouting reminiscent of crossover bands like D.R.I. or early Suicidal Tendencies. I've always appreciated a bit more character to my thrash front men, and this guy simply was not an Araya, Baloff or Hetfield. That said, despite the thin and crisp production of the guitars, and the lack of any particular 'cult classics' that I'd want to experience repeatedly through the decades, this is not a half bad headbanging if you're one to invest in the Bay Area's spectrum of 80s hostility.