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Victim of Bad Vocals - 77%

tidalforce79, February 6th, 2016

From the humid land of rednecks and sexy trailer girls, comes Gammacide. Texas is no stranger to the heavier side of thrash. Both Devastation and Rigor Mortis hail from the desert of cowboys and scatterguns, and Watchtower put Texas on the map for tech thrash. Gammacide originate from a similar seed that spawned Devastation: heavy and crunchy, though not quite as far into the reaches of brutality. All the ingredients for a thrash classic are present on Victims of Science, save for 1 important factor.

Immediately, any fan of thrash will notice the difference between Gammacide and a band like; say, Destruction. Instead of sharp, surgical thrash riffs, Gammacide deliver a carpet-bombing style barrage. Each note is felt across the entire body. A concussion of metallic mayhem attacks through the pleasing sounds of twin-axe slaughter. The drums march alongside the bombarding guitars, carrying the listener through a variety of tempo changes, and stereotypical pounding aggression. Blast beats are used sparingly, but semi-effectively-not overdone, but not absent. The lyrics are typical thrash fare: death and destruction: environmental terror, and a fun little ditty about sexually transmitted disease.

By the time 1989 fell upon the thrash world, general production quality had improved immensely from the grandfathers of the genre. Victims of Science is produced in a similar manner to Devastation’s “Idolatry.” The overall production is thick, though a tad on the muddy side-the album has a distinct death metal sound. Distinguishing between instruments is fairly easy in the mix, though a slight overabundance of “sludge” may cause bass heavy sound systems some clarity difficulty. What exactly makes this album fall short on the classic scale then?

Thrash vocalists are not generally what one would call “talented.” Exceptions do exist, but a competent thrash vocalists is usually gauged by how well their voice fits the music, not their pitch or range. Varnam falls short on the scale of fitting vocalists. Gammacide are a band that centers on intensity and heaviness. A fitting vocalist would have been someone from a band like Demolition Hammer, or Jeff from Possessed. Unfortunately, Gammacide chose very poorly.

Varnam’s vocals would better suit a hardcore band like Broken Bones or DRI. Gammacide deserve several demerits for selecting a vocalist that robs the music of maximum intensity. Varnam’s “punky” barking, and lack of metal attitude considerably diminish the “heavy factor”. Sean from Vio-lence is an apt comparison, though Varnam is more restrained and less annoying. Gammacide run into some issues; however, because “Eternal Nightmare” is loaded with massive, riff monsters that offset the poor vocal performance-Gammacide can not make the same claim.

Overall, Victims of Science is a solid slab of late 80s thrash. The brutality of the music is destroyed by unfitting vocals, but the album is far from a waste. Pick this one up if you have some extra cash in your pocket, or happen to like hardcore styled vocals. I wouldn’t personally pay more than 10 bucks for this album, but it does make a pretty decent addition to any thrash library.

The peak of American thrash - 98%

Hellish_Torture, August 3rd, 2014

Let’s be honest, I’m not a huge fan of U.S. thrash. Obviously I’m a fan of bands such as Slayer, Exodus, Testament, Vio-lence, Forbidden, Sadus, Dark Angel, Toxik, Whiplash, Carnivore and so on, but I always found Teutonic and Brazilian thrash to be usually superior. The USA is full of great bands, but most of them are pretty well-known names, and when I cross the threshold of the “Holy Realm of U.S. Underground Thrash”, I often find myself yawning a bit, and this doesn’t happen so often when I discover German or Brazilian underground. Obviously there are several exceptions regarding my last sentence, and without doubt the Texan act Gammacide is the biggest of all. They’re not just the best thrash metal band you can ever find in the USA, but even the best American thrash act ever, overcoming even Brazilian bands like Sepultura or Attomica. In my personal list of favourite thrash bands, Gammacide is second only to Sodom and Destruction.

Gammacide’s only full-length, “Victims of Science”, released in 1989, is a total overkill of toxic and corrosive thrash metal that's intense as hell. It’s like Demolition Hammer under a mega-overdose of methamphetamine (or maybe, deathamphetamine?) and in a cosmic LSD trip that gives them more inspiration than usual. Yeah, remember that I’m not just talking about “how brutal this album is”. This album is totally unexpected not just because of its absurd level of violence and intensity, but also for its level of inspiration that just helps to make it even more violent and intense.

What’s the first thing you think about when someone talks about thrash metal? Obviously, the riffs! “Victims of Science” is one of the most riff-creative thrash albums that ever existed. The intensity of these riffs is just mindblowing, even competing with classics such as “Agent Orange” or “Beneath the Remains”, and the best word I can use to describe the riffage of this album is “corrosive”. Each riff is fucking asphyxiating and you will feel like it penetrates in the pores of your skin, giving you the sensation of being chemically-altered by some weird toxic gas. The production helps in this sense, giving justice to the guitar sound and to the concept of this album: scientific and chemical disaster. The guitar tone is a perfect transposition of those scenarios, but listen to believe. From the fast and anxious assaults of “Walking Plague” and “Observations”, the schizophrenic, surgical, and penetrating technical riffing of “Chemical Imbalance”, “Shock Treatment”, and “Victims of Science”, the steamroller fast grooves of “Fossilized”, and the catastrophic display of Earth’s degrade embodied by the “semi-melodic” (take this term highly skeptically) riffs of “Gutter Rats” and “Endangered Species”, every song will annihilate you before you can even have the time to bang your head on it.

I have also to mention the high quantity of tempo changes, making the whole thing even more insane. On “Fossilized”, after the already mentioned semi-groovy moment there is a surprising tempo change and one of the most ripping and creative thrash riffs ever made comes in. And let’s not talk about the total madness of “Chemical Imbalance”. You’ll go insane when you hear the sudden acceleration at 02:37 where a schizophrenic riff comes in accompanied by a mindblowing solo. Even the sudden accelerations of Slayer’s “Necrophobic” are less shocking, in comparison. These tempo changes are perfectly handled and managed by one of the most polyhedral thrash drummers, James Milford. On some tracks, like “Gutter Rats”, you will also notice that he does something that few thrash bands were doing at that time, especially in the USA (where death metal was the new thing and thrash was losing its intensity) - BLAST BEATS! And let’s not talk about his drumwork on “Chemical Imbalance” where his fills are fucking insane. Combine it with the riff/solo overkill I mentioned before and you have a complete holocaust.

Thanks to highly-skilled musicianship (except the vocalist, who’s pretty “hardcore-rooted” and doesn’t use a proper technique) and an out-of-common inspiration for the standards of the local scene (including better known local names like Rigor Mortis, Exhorder, and Devastation - just avoiding to mention Pantera), Gammacide manage to create the greatest thrashterpiece ever made by an American band. The band cited Slayer and AC/DC as their hugest influences and I can figure how. Slayer gave them the lesson about how to be fast, brutal, and outstanding while AC/DC gave them the ability to make “high voltage” music (surely in a different and more brutal way, but at a merely theoretical level, it’s undoubtedly the same kind of stuff), and in both cases the disciples overcame the masters.

If you want to learn how to make brutal, inspired, and outstanding thrash, this album is an obligatory listen for you, no question.

Victims of Science Litter The Ground - 84%

grain_silo, August 27th, 2011

It only took one riff to make me love this band. This band that is, sadly, pretty much unknown. The riff in the title track is so good that I immediately fell in love and the rest of the album isn’t bad either.

The production is extremely raw. The guitars are insanely heavy. With a little more distortion they could easily be confused with a death metal production. The drums are insane, the way they sound and how they are played. The snare sounds awesome and the bass drum is loud throughout. The bass is kind of low but you can still hear it a lot of the time.

What these guys play is pure, 100% thrash metal with a bonus…blast beats. I’m sure back in 1989 if you wanted blast beats, you had to go buy some Carcass or Napalm Death, no way you would ever find a blast beat in a thrash metal band, right? Wrong. Gammacide did something I’ve never heard a thrash band from the 80’s do, use blast beats. They use them just enough where when they are there, they take up the intensity level so much. I hear a lot of thrash bands that go so fast, they almost unknowingly want to burst into one but Gammacide actually did it. The riffs are amazing, “Victims of Science” has one of the greatest riffs ever written, and it’s so heavy it’s almost ridiculous. “Fossilized” starts with a little drum fill and explodes into some thrash. “Gutter Rats” has a lot of blast beats and some awesome bass parts. Pretty much every song on here is fast and brutal as hell.

The vocalist is pretty unique. I can’t really think of anyone to compare him to, he kind of has his own thing going on here and it completely works. He doesn’t really sing, he just yells. Not like a punk singer though, most punk singers just kind of talk and yell but this guy sounds like nobody else. Very good vocalist for the chaotic thrash that is displayed here.

This album suffers from one thing, fillers. Some of the songs just don’t deliver like they should, but then again it’s kind of hard to beat the title track. If you haven’t heard this album, you really need to get it and listen to it.

Best tracks – “Victims of Science”, “Fossilized”, and “Walking Plague”

The Unstopable Bulldozer Known as Gammacide - 85%

TexanCycoThrasher, June 9th, 2009

Stomping it’s way through your stereo & into your ears, Gammacide’s unknown classic, Victims of Science, is a marvel of thrash. An ass kicking experience, this album is not recommended for the meek metalheads.

To begin with the production isn’t as good as it could be, it carries the Tortured Existence type of production--tick & heavy--but Gammacide’s variation carries a grit too it that gives it it’s originality. One complaint with it is that the bass is fading in and out quite frequently.

But musicianship these guys could be compared to the sheer force of a bulldozer if it went as fast as a lambo. The guitars are heavy as hell on this album, not to mention Shelby & Perry can shed!!! The riff’s are fast, & have a nice crunch to them. But the solos are as relentless as the riffs, listen to Fossilized & you’ll know what’s up. The percussion is furious, the best aspect of the percussion is that it aided in many of the intros, Gammacide often didn’t do the single riff, drum intro thirty seconds later intro you normally hear, which I find to be another thing that adds to the ausomeness of this album. The bass is good, or what you can hear of it is good. But their vocalist Vernam Ponville brings an original brand of vocals to the table. He can be described as something in between Vio-Lence’s Sean Killian and Demolition Hammer’s Steve Reynolds. He just has a fury in the way he sings that’s not seen often. But one downside I do see to this is that somewhere around Gutter Rats or Walking Plague it seems to meld together & you normally loose track of what’s going on.

Overall a good album with a few problems, & highly recommended, that is if you can find a copy.

Annihilated By Nuclear Fallout - 93%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, May 23rd, 2008

How can one of the most violent thrash metal albums ever be so overlooked or even forgotten? I don’t know but it’s the case of Gammacide with their only released album, in 1989. The thrash metal period was a bit in crisis for the new born death and grind bands but they didn’t care about this and kept high the flag of the most pure thrash. The power of this band is unbelievable and I was really shocked the first time I experienced this album.

The guitars riffs and the drums were the first two things that I immediately notice and followed from the beginning until the end. The drumming is precise, essential and sometimes the blast beats flow in on a field of crunchy guitars supported by their earthquake distortion. It’s the case of the opener “Endangered Species”. The guitars’ distortion is one of the greatest thing I’ve ever heard in this genre and when the drumming is focused on the fast double kicks session, the hell is unleashed. It’s like being hit with a piece of metal on the back of your head.

Generally the songs are quite short so you cannot be bored because the impact, when concentrated in a small length, is even more devastating. But let me say that these guys are not only about pure impact because the technique level is always high and the are several tempo changes in one song with lots of stop and go, like in the furious “Shock Treatment”. Sometimes, there are parts in pure hardcore style with the thrash distortion of the instruments, while the prevalent influence can be found in Slayer or Dark Angel for the schizophrenic riffage.

The vocals are very particular with that hardcore hint in them, but always terribly thrash and vicious. They reminded me the ones by the great Insecticide, but here the whole songs are more structured in songwriting with a higher number of riffs without losing anything in impact and freshness. The solos are fucking awesome in their tremolo picking style with lots of whistles. Sometimes like in “Gutter Rats”, the only bass sound introduces the quite long series of blast beats that are really devastating.

At the end of the album, even the noise of a plane taking off in your room can be so quiet for your ears. These guys are fucking compact and total impact devoted. A small gem for those who want to try a different way for a headache as should be. Total thrash. No compromise.

Crushing! - 85%

dmpjackson, July 12th, 2007

Gammacide is one of the most obscure bands of the thrash genre. When I managed to get my hands on a copy of "Victims of Science" I felt lucky just to add it to my collection. But the real value exists in the music.

The music absolutely pummels the listener. I found the production to be very good, especially for a band no one's ever heard of, and the riffs really keep you on your feet. The problems I have are the drums and vocals. There's nothing wrong with drummer, its just that he chooses to do a lot of almost death style blastbeat stuff that I find just a bit annoying. Also, the vocals are chunky and sound as if he is got a cold or something. All the tracks are good by I found "Fossilized" to be the best.

"Victims of Science" is one of the most intense albums of the thrash genre, and can be a downright punishing but highly rewarding listening experience.

Thrash--Straight, No Chaser - 75%

corviderrant, November 15th, 2005

This Texas horde had a simple mission in their existence, to annihilate your brain with nothing but straight ahead thrash metal with distinct death metal overtones. As the advertisements for this album stated: "No acoustic guitar intros, no noodling, just no bullshit THRASH!" Or something like that, and on this album Gammacide delivered well on that promise.

The down points are: tinny drum and bass sounds and grating monotonous vocals that sound as though Varnam Ponville is talking his way thorugh every song without much in the way of variety or dynamics. And the soloing wasn't that imaginative as well--very Dark Angel in that respect. That aside, whew! This was a lethal blast of over the top aggression from start to finish. Every song storms its way through your speakers like a herd of rampaging rhinos, with about as much tact and subtlety as that implies. Every song gives you just enough time to catch your breath, if that, before mowing you down again a moment later.

The guitar tone is excellent, deep and crunchy and perfect for the songs at hand. Even a blast beat or two rears its head here and there, but they unfortunately don't sound terribly well integrated. The drumming was outstanding too, tight and powerful and never missing a beat, despite being hindered by the weak drum sound. The songs flow together into a tapestry of thrash metal sound and fury that while not offering much variety certainly accomplish much in the way of devastation. And hey--they were Texan, damn it! That Tejas attitude is here in abundance and makes this album eminently worthy of your time. If you can find or download it, go for it!