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Neglected Legends' Finest Hour - 85%

brocashelm, April 3rd, 2009

It had not been an easy road for Germany’s Living Death. Their 1984 debut album Vengeance Of Hell could possibly have beaten Metallica’s debut out of the gate chronologically as a thrash metal milestone, but weak sound and performances hampered it. Their second album Metal Revolution was similarly compromised, and being on a nowhere label like Mausoleum was at the time didn’t help them. But by 1986’s Back To The Weapons EP it was clear that a more serious tact had been adopted by the band, and their rather slack thrash metal style was being overhauled.

Thus, this album deserved to be much bigger news than it was, as it brought Living Death into the death metal realm of Sodom and Kreator with no lack of ability or power present. True, singer Thorsten Bergmann had always had a tough voice to love, but here the material is abrasive enough to make his distorted wails make contextual sense. A much heavier and darker sound job cranks the guitars and bass up, allowing the fast and tight outbursts of “Horrible Infanticide” and “Vengeance” to ring true. “Manila Terror” and “Intruder” are similarly strong, while the instrumental “Wood Of Necrophiliac” reveals some playing skills within the band that were heretofore unknown.

Sadly it took two years for this album to finally see release in America (it was originally issued only in Europe and I have no idea why the US release was so delayed), by which time Living Death’s position was diminished further. They’d persevere for a short while after, but not for long. This record is the one that should have broken them, and thrashers and death metal fans should make every effort to hear it.