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Tearing Down The Walls Inside This Crazy Maze - 84%

CHAIRTHROWER, April 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Independent

Earlier this year, a fairly newfangled Canadian outfit by the curious name of One Minute Shy released its independent and titular full-length debut following its three tracked Steal the Pain EP from 2016, and I have to say, I instantly took to the dual-guitar band’s crunchy and swift albeit compellingly melodic brand of Metallica meets Pantera classic early 90s metal. In fact, the Guelph, Ontario originating quartet’s front man, Leo Flint, evokes a concise and powerful cross between James Hetfield and Ronnie James Dio (RIP) while at times paralleling Phil Anselmo’s more wistful and solemn crooning (i.e. “Hollow” from Vulgar Display of Power), namely on the remastered version of “The Mourning After” (of note, the last three tracks constitute said EP).

The production and guitar tones on this affair are prodigiously crisp and clear whilst the numerous and swift crunch-a-ramas, from the twin opening arse kickers, “Deception” (Flint uncannily sounds like Dio here) and main, cranky staple, “All Out War” (an astute dead-ringer for Hollow’s “Cogito”) to the rabidly jerking and propulsive title track, are succinctly imbued with an old-school styled menagerie of gripping clean harmonies and hard-driving riffs whilst also possessing an undeniable modern flair. I’d even venture as far as comparing this eleven track/fifty minute long and traditionally thrash-y dirge to the album Metallica could have produced had the Bay Area pioneers applied a sharper tack to their subdued meanderings following And Justice For All...in other words, OMS’ grittily expulsive sound, while still conducive to hard rock/metal radio, is a whole Hell of a lot more convincing and brash than the likes of “Enter Sandman” or “Wherever I May Roam”.

To be sure, ax men Dwayne Benoit and Craig Laffin’s chops rival anything from the Black album while their high-wire and mellifluous minor pentatonic/Aeolian scaled leads smack of Kirk Hammett in his heyday. A stellar example is the cracker-jack solo section to the transcendentally soaring “Broken”, which commences with a lazily (no “languid” today!) reverb-ed guitar progression and linear, militant drum beat before duly taking flight with a wicked star-bound introductory solo and overall increased tempo, thus paving the way for Flint’s heartfelt and poignant, as well tenuously trembling, inflections. Pleasantly woven mini-leads also abound on this winning humdinger which alternates between said revved up acceleration and late, satisfying reversion to initial placid form – yet another reason why I’m despondently perplexed a certain flat-Earth-er and self-proclaimed metal head I presented this to ungraciously thumbed his nose at it (the lesson to be gleaned here is you can’t buy class or taste!).

Other instances of all-out fist pumping revelry include, but are not limited to, the caustically taut and harried, as well as Pantera-ish, “The Threat” (which is nevertheless my least preferred track) and Dokken-like pseudo-ballad, “Forever In Black”, where Flint pulls off even more expressive, albeit undeniably flowery, crooning; it’s an effective cool-down grace period preceding the stomping staccato mid-tempo groove and blistering fret works of “Cast A Shadow” as well as neck-snapping and downcast bop of “Destiny Dies”. Granted, Scott Laffin’s level drumming is nothing outside of the box or extraordinary – the fore mentioned crony’s main gripe - but simply doesn’t need to be. Inextricably linked with Craig’s unwavering yet solid and stout bass playing (for the time being, he’s a dual instrumentalist), the rhythm section yields more than adequate support. Sure, it’d be nice to see some more stand-alone bass solos in the future, but in no way does the battery’s simplicity detract from the album’s upfront and in-your face appeal. Furthermore, there are more than enough off-kilter drum fills and rides to keep one engagingly on their toes.

With that icky business out of the way, it’s now time for me to administer the “meat & potatoes” (i.e. top highlights) platter which is the killer, kick-ass tandem of “One Minute Shy” proper and likely my favorite cut of all, “Cruel And Unusual”. The former is thrilling enough as it wastes no time getting to its feet thanks to a super slick, somewhat Jake E. Lee patterned and irresistibly swinging guitar riff which agreeably gets under your skin, along with a stellar, natural harmonic capped bridge and flourishing sizzler of a solo or three, yet the latter is definitely one for the ages! Beginning with futuristic, swelling string bends and a rush inducing, as well as bouncy, pile-driving rhythm, Flint duly connects the bat with the ball on his grandiosely surging and bellowing verses, impeccably synchronized as they are with the grooved out musicianship. The way the guitars tremendously (and unfalteringly) break in between, as well as on the inquisitive yet stentorian chorus, is simply spectacular! What's more, the leads are unabashedly wound up to the hilt, at one point reaching wailing, tropospheric heights. Suffice to say, I've no issue repeatedly digging this gem.

Seeing as I’ve run the gauntlet of tracks (again!) I may as well comment on the intensely 80s sounding closer, “Steal the Pain”, a rather memorable, strong finale which admittedly pales in the shade coming on the heels of such stalwart, above mentioned humdingers. Come to think of it, One Minute Shy's official debut instills similar feelings of golden era cheer as Leather Heart's Comeback or Substratum's Permission to Rock...That said, the novelty and joy of discovery has slightly worn off since last month but still, definitely check it out if you yearn for easily palatable and genial, classic metal vibes. Otherwise, should you be Canadian like myself, consider it your patriotic duty to give this a spin!