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Mad Poltergeist > Mad'n'Damn > Reviews > hells_unicorn
Mad Poltergeist - Mad'n'Damn

Thrash from the Italian Bay Area. - 75%

hells_unicorn, June 9th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1989, 12" vinyl, Metalnews

Thrash metal has historically been seen as something applying mostly to America, Germany, Brazil and sometimes England. Chalk it up to the fact that even in the tape trading world, news doesn't travel quite as fast to parts of Europe that were pretty far removed from where metal first reared its decrepit head. Be all of this as it may, southern Europe wasn't wholly without representation, as a small number of underground acts did emerge before the close of the 1980s, one of them further proving that thrash metal existed in the Italian peninsula prior to the creation of Punishment 18 Records. The act in question went by the name of Mad Poltergeist, a name that was further underscored not only by their lone EP offering Mad'N'Damn have the first word in the title as well, but by the fact that their presentation articulates a level of chaotic speed fully fit for the insane asylum.

This band definitely took heavy cues from what was happening with the 2nd tier of Bay Area bands to emerge between 1986 and 1988, showcasing a level of rabid speed, technically based riffing and frequent stops and starts that are just a tad too jarring for even the likes of Exodus. Perhaps the closest analogy would be to the likes of Forbidden Evil and Eternal Nightmare, with a greater degree of emphasis on the latter when taking the scatterbrained yet largely yell based vocals that occur over-top the sonic frenzy. Whether it is the manic verses riffs heard on "Bring Slavery To Trial", "Your Sins Will Find You Out" or "Close Confinement", one can't help but kinda here the lyrics of Vio-Lence's "Serial Killer" over top of whatever craziness Massimo Cottica is mouthing off between the drum fills and the occasional respite of speed that occurs here and there.

The overall air of excess proves to be a little bit of a hindrance as much as it is a strength. Throughout the many instrumental breaks that occur at generally fast tempos, the frequent occurrence of abrupt runs in the bass and guitars, not to mention the almost ubiquitous drum fills that seem to occur every couple seconds generally interrupt any sense of flow that may otherwise be achieved. Likewise, the guitar solos are just one or two steps removed from the noise-driven semi-coherence that typifies Slayer's Hanneman and King duels, with maybe a greater degree of traditional NWOBHM flavoring the tends to favor frequent trapping sections rather than wild whammy bar dives. The only song that kind of veers in a bit of a different direction is the equally fast and crazy ode to The Joker's love-interest "Harlequin", and only because the song is shorter in scope and sticks to a more symmetrical structure, though note for note it is just as wild the long material.

Of all the categories of either great or good that an obscure thrash release could fall under, this falls under the label of good with the caveat of it could have been better with a clearer production like the one that brought a greater degree of order to bands that were only slightly less chaotic in the San Francisco Bay Area a year or two prior. It's technical enough to trade blows with the likes of Watchtower, but a more apt comparison would be that of Darkness Descends minus the dark vocal delivery. This is more of a happy-go-lucky take on rapid pace, neck-ruining mayhem, and one that is not without a sense of irony given that an album that seems to eschew coherence features a painting on the cover depicting some of the earliest proponents of bringing greater coherence into the world.