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A storm of fury, free missile included. - 83%

hells_unicorn, June 5th, 2012

I like to think that every once in a while I can have a measure of pride in my home state, even though their representation in the thrash metal world has been somewhat lacking when compared with the exceptional acts to hail from California, New York, Texas, and the New England area. Something about the Wild West and the massive population density of the north eastern part of the country both seem to exude a tendency towards violence, though they all tended to be just a tad shy of the outright vindictive evil that would swarm out of Germany. But a rag tag bunch from the steel city of Pittsburg by the name of Holocross managed to give all of them a run for their money back in 1988.

Picture the sheer intensity and speed crazed mayhem that typified Wehrmacht’s “Shark Attack” and marry it to the orthodoxy of the mid 80s Bay Area sound (somewhere along the lines of Testament meets Slayer), and that’s the general mood of “Holocross”. This album is more than a mere exercise in violent thrashing; it’s an explosion of fury comparable to a world war of riffs and shouts. The drum work, in particular, is scarcely ever satisfied in keeping the beat and simply has to either blast away with both barrels or load up on the fills almost to the point of sheer gratuity. In similar fashion, the vocal work veers back and forth between a low key Chuck Billy growl and frequent interludes into Tom Araya shriek territory, with maybe a slight helping of Udo influences at times as well.

Granted, by 1988 this approach to thrash metal was not unheard of, but the excessive speed and aggression factor on here is more in line with that more associated with “Beneath The Remains” and “Pleasure To Kill” than the party oriented sound that was starting to crop up amongst the New York crew. It’s largely a one dimensional affair where the guitars blur and crunch away with no time for quiet interludes and next to no time for breakdowns. That’s basically of the charm of this sort of an album, there may be an occasional intro that’s more mid-tempo such as heard on “Warpath” and a lone clean guitar intro found on “Seizure”, but the vast majority of what is heard on here just unloads in the most intense manner possible and skips all the drawn out additives. Much of what is on here either clocks in below or just barely above 3 minutes in length, and it’s likely because the sort of head-banging required for these songs would see heads rolling on the floor if they went much longer.

This isn’t an album that immediately lends itself to classic status, primarily because it’s so damned intense that it simply leaves a vague impression, right on the listener’s skull. People tend to remember albums like “South Of Heaven” and “Coma Of Souls” better because they offer a variety of different ways to ruin the spinal column, whereas this is just a straight shot of pure adrenaline that tends to fade away once the music stops. The crazy leads, the crushing riffs, the barely intelligible screams, and the drum showboating all accomplish what they need to, a one-dimensional fit of rage that brings to thrash metal what early Bolt Thrower would bring to death metal. It’s definitely far removed from the greatest thrash album ever made, but definitely worth the time for anyone who likes it fast and vicious.

relentlessly intense thrash from Hell! - 86%

stormcrusher, December 11th, 2004

Thought I'd give this one a review since no one else has and it deserves one. This album is one aggressive piece of metal. Hailing from the Pittsburgh, tri-state area, Holocross were most well known for their controversial weapons-based stage shows and go-for-the-throat approach. These guys make Jake the Lumberjack look like a wimp. The album has a raw feel. Think a mixture of Razor and Onslaught, with some Vio-lence thrown in for good measure, and you know these guys kick some ass. (and with a name like Holocross, would you expect any less?) I'll do a song-by-song review:

Wolf Pak: Starts things off with a bang, not bad, but nothing new here, it's only 2 minutes long

Bombardment: Begins with some evil sounding chants and slow drum beat, pumps up into a mid pace beat, then goes into an all out thrasher for the rest of the song.

Warpath: Headbangable drum pounding intro leads to a heavy as hell mid pace beat. Nice screams too throughout, courtesy of Char R.G. which we will hear quite a bit more of later. This song basically pounds from beginning to end.

B. Hive: Excellent but short melodic intro, leads to excellent thrash riff that consists of most of the song. This is another short song being only 2 minutes, but it's one of the best. Ends with a CREEPY guitar harmony that sounds like, you guessed it, a swarm of bees!

Seizure: Doomy sounding intro leads to another excellent riff, which leads to some nice thrashing and cool chorus with Char shouting out SEIZURE!!! GOD DAMN SEIZURE!!! Goes into a slow beat, then back to more thrashing for the rest of the song.

Manslaughter: Great, great song here, probably the best. Pure energetic thrashing, with some funny power-metallish vocals that in no way sound power metal. The lyrics are about dying. There's some awesome guitar harmonies and riffs here. This song is a good reason to own this album.

Murdercycle: begins with what I guess is motorcycle engine sounds, then goes into a cool mid-pace/fast intro riff, then into another cool mid-pace/fast riff with lyrics about Hell, motorcycles, death, and smashing, this is what metal's all about! You really notice Char's unique vocal style here, it's hard and loud, with operatic vibratos. Probably the "toughest" song on this album. Makes you wanna start a bar fight.

Drill: Intro drum roll into a killer thrash riff. Char's voice is all of a sudden high pitched! This one is lyrically about soldiers being "drilled" to fight. What the lyrics lack in creativity, the guitars make up for in cool harmonies and speed. Another ass kicker.

Ptomaine: Yep, another ass kicker. Sounds like a continuation of Drill because it's just not that much of a variation in riff style. It's pretty short though.

Battle Stations: The last song, this one starts with what I suppose is a battle station alarm, goes into some thrashing, then we hear some more super high pitch vocals and a killer "BATTLE STATIONS" chorus. One of the only guitar solos on the album in this one, and it's pretty damn cool. Ends with some guitar harmony line, switching off with some drums. One of the better songs on here.

I only review albums I think deserve it, and this is one is no exception. If you like your metal violent and ultra heavy, give this one a spin, IF you can handle it.