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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.