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Are you sure they're not German? - 90%

Gutterscream, August 18th, 2005
Written based on this version: 1992, Cassette, Grind Core International

“…kill the white rabbit before it kills you…”

Ravaging. Merciless. Bloodthirsty. Wisconsin’s Morbid Saint constructed a filthy, flame-blackened thrash machine, dipped its spiked tires in liquid curare, welded twin scythes to the hood, eviscerated it of its wimpy factory exhaust, jammed a mike stand onto the accelerator, and let it roar angrily into downtown Bay Area thrash. White-eyed fans of Defiance, Viking and even Testament didn’t have a chance. Germany would fare a little better (and you should have seen the ramp).

Unfortunately, the quintet unleashed their debut to the fanfare much like an event taking place at four in the morning on Easter Sunday in the middle of the Yukon, therefore most pedestrians didn’t have to worry about the lp’s stampede. Instead of ripping through the underground’s main drag, it detoured down side streets and back alleys where one will find those fans shuffling through the debris in search of ambiguous releases buried under the surface. While the date was near perfect, it was the distribution-lacking label, the microscopic Avanzada Metallica, they signed with that caused them to relish obscurity. Licensing the eight-songer to the rather crummy Grind Core label in ’92 seemed like a good thing, but still didn’t wave flags for the band. If, say, Combat had gotten its hands on this, I would bet my brother Spectrum of Death would be pulling confetti out of its hair even today.

I bring Germany to the forefront ‘cos Morbid Saint's sound follows a recipe of the country’s deadly thrash din: the ripping Mille/Kreator-Exumer-Assassin-Destruction-Angel Dust vocal vehemence, the ferocious riffage, scalding solos…emphatic bands that could spit and snort just as loudly as these Americans, but that’s not saying Dark Angel and Agent Steel couldn’t stand stolidly in their wake.

Hellish, scraping vocals of Paul Lind and a rhythm section that can derail trains collide within a one-dimensional production expected from a near-DIY release. Nevertheless, the brew infuses this slab with inherit flesh-shucking power songs like the lethal “Burned At the Stake”, inaugural stomper “Lock Up Your Children”, and deliberately punishing “Beyond the Gates of Hell” hold like signs at an anti-abortion rally. There’s no stopping side two’s speeding opener “Crying For Death” and its thick wall of septic thorns that will shear the life from your body if you choose to stand in its path. The speechless title cut levels with pummeling double bass fortifying a more moderate pace, but aggression doesn’t leave the scene of the slaughter. “Assassin” roars to life with rhythmic and tempo changes galore, meanwhile “Scars” is a touch more methodical with its shifting structures, yet doesn’t pull any punches.

Besides the mix, there is really no weak spot on the lp except that maybe, and I mean maybe, Phil Lind sounds too much like his German counterparts, as well as, say, Darren Travis of Sadus and Martti Payne of Metal Onslaught for people. Believe me, I’m not complaining. Good luck finding this on cd.

(Ed. - believe it or not, now on iTunes.)