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The calm eye of thrash's tornado...kinda sorta - 78%

Gutterscream, December 13th, 2006
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, Combat Records

Often slipping off the edge of memory, Minnesota’s Powermad was a chosen one for Combat’s quickly dead and mostly unlooked for Boot Camp Demo Series. Basically, the four-piece took their chilly demo tracks from two years prior, layered some heaviness onto the production, and developed something that, save vigorous album closer “Blind Leading the Blind”, hardly endangered thrash/speed molds as some rumors even today would lead us to believe.

Deliberate yet catchy in execution, one can hear ’85 and earlier in at least four of these tunes. “Chasing the Dragon”, “Terminator”, “Plastic Town”, and “Nice Dreams” are arrested by unfussy straightforwardness in both rhythm and craft as well as Joel Dubay’s somewhat insecure pipes, and lurking somewhere in these tracks is a vision in its adolescence that should’ve surpassed the drinking age by now. Taking “Nice Dreams” for example, guitars are fuzzed up and weighted down by a fairly hefty production and then soaked up nicely by a modest, yet infective riff. Then Dubay ambles forward with his often pre-’83, youth-gone-w(m)ild vocals that, even with the claw marks of a few rattled screams, follow the trademark of effeminately diluted bands like Tysondog, Bitches Sin, Santers and other acts from metal’s preheated period. They’re a few years too late, of course, and much of the ep’s possible masculinity hides beneath the covers because of it.

But despite their time machine-requisite resonance, what Powermad has here is a neo-classic style, a style that really only needs one tenuously addictive riff in a song to not only get the point across, but sustain it in memory. It’s the sound of honesty breathing the breath of the original metal code that by ‘87 often found itself choking on thrash’s dust…well, at least until the end.

Easily the oddball of the bunch, closer “Blind Leading the Blind” takes off with the sudden onrush of jet fuel, smoking with all the speed-warped ingenuity of the year proper, and if this song be your only evidence to Powermad’s existence, then you’d have absolutely no qualms tossing them between the likes of Have Mercy, Agent Steel, and the fastest Helloween with scorch marks on the proving ground.

By the ep’s end, despite its merely mild abnormal drive, it’s hard to absentmindedly dismiss these songs’ mostly uncorrupted infectiousness. These are down-to-earth, memorable tunes that admittedly aren’t going to blow your hair back, but they will find a way to stow away in your mind. Yep, dwelling within me is a weird soft patch for the ep.