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Pyracanda > Two Sides of a Coin > Reviews
Pyracanda - Two Sides of a Coin

A really pleasant surprise - 92%

Raptor18, June 8th, 2020
Written based on this version: 1990, 12" vinyl, No Remorse Records

This album has a very special place in my heart, been the first vinyl I ever bought. I was hooked immediately by its cover, not knowing anything about the band at this point, I was specting some kind of death/thrash hybrid with raspy vocals and the like. Surprisingly this is not the case, and it shows immediately.

Having listeting to a lot of German thrash bands you normally start seeing (or listening) a pattern in their sound, aggressive riffs and vocals and the like. This also isn’t the case with Pyracanda. Their fast, with clear vocals and a really crystal and good sound quality.

Many thrash bands in the late 80's and early 90's started experimenting with their sounds, having a more technical sound or a more aggressive death metal vocals and riffs. In this case, Pyracanda mix classic thrash with power and speed metal influences, making a really original sound. Bealive me, you won’t mistake this band sound with other thrash bands.

Some of the passages sound very melodic, and in some cases having a more happy vibe, something really strange in the German scene. Its like a more technical bay area thrash. In the lyric department, beside some songs like Top Gun, the band doesn't take itself very seriously, having many parodies style songs.

Dreamworld (Goodbye Mary-Ann) it's a favorite of mine, unlike other songs, this is more classic thrash sounding, with a classic guitar intro and a really catchy main riff, one of those you can’t help but headbang with passion.

If you are a thrash maniac you really own having a listen of this semi obscure masterpiece. It’s one of those albums you can hear over and over without getting bored.

Turns up the force. - 85%

Diamhea, August 26th, 2015

My familiarity with this project is courtesy of Sven Fischer, whose tenure with Rage during the '90s made me a fan, since his riffs held together some of the band's greatest records in their (arguably) most underrated era. Pyracanda as a project is also a red-headed stepchild, adopting something along the lines of a speed/thrash jaunt as opposed to the more ballistic, begrimed attitude of Kreator, Sodom and the usual suspects of the period. The most apt descriptive term I can summon to describe this German five-piece is "tight." Fischer and Dennis Vaupel generate some of the better skittering, terse rhythm configurations that sound like early Testament meets something more abstruse like Znöwhite or Metal Church. A pretty endearing and engaging mix, with only obscurity dampening its unerring impact.

Imposing correlations aside, Two Sides of a Coin is a downright fun record in the sense that the band never sacrifices melodic appeal and/or earworm vocal arrangements for belligerent posturing. Not to downplay the visceral tendency of the riffs themselves, but to me, the vocals are the primary appeal here. Nefen is simply all over this thing, espousing manic rants alongside a more polished cleaner timbre; all the while managing to touch on most intervals in between. The latter half of the record manages to hurl more than a few curveballs, not limited to "Dreamworld (Goodbye Mary Ann)," which sounds like a pseudo-singalong companion piece to Artillery's "Don't Believe." In fact, Two Sides of a Coin sounds eerily reminiscent of By Inheritance at many points, which alone should give it a high level of credence.

With Nefen's echoing grit manning the ship, guitars work up and down the aforementioned thrash/speed intersection with above-average results. The band rarely slows down enough to work up a good mosh, but this matters little when the quality retains such admirable consistency. There is also an abundance of gang shouts, which are incorporated into the songs' existing framework exceptionally well, because as mentioned above, the vocal lines are quite competently arranged. The lyrics are more laugh out loud funny than memorable, but it works fairly well considering the upbeat and unhinged aesthetic being presented here. Standouts are without a doubt "Top Gun" and "Rigor Mortis," while some of the longer tracks on the B side play up that more developed, Artillery-esque slant I cited earlier. The production values are also startlingly appropriate, with Gehenzig's kit popping off the cuff with praiseworthy accuracy. The guitar tone itself is quite snappy and direct, befitting of the taut and rigid riffing patterns employed throughout.

Two Sides of a Coin just totally kills, and finds itself among esteemed-enough company enough to be called a forgotten classic. While the undeniable talent of at least one of these musicians went on to decent success with both Rage and the pop band Sub7even, Pyracanda as a project sort of wallowed in thrash purgatory like so many other acts, eventually changing moniker to Ilex and managing one more record before calling it a day in the mid '90s. Regardless of that, and its inferior direct successor Thorns, Two Sides of a Coin is a thrash record that deserves to be heard, if only for its enchanting adherence to everything sans the kitchen sink. A barrel of fun, to be sure.

Do get infected - 75%

autothrall, October 19th, 2010

A face that only a mother could love. A beautiful, feminine, plastic visage staring dead eyed, its monstrous jaw harnessed by further fangs of rusted steel. You've got to love those Golden Age thrash bands and their imaginations, whether their album covers run away from the actual contents or not, especially when the musicians can actually back up their iconic artwork with savage, lethal hymns of unapologetic speed and undeniable potential. Pyracanda's cover girl (err, thing) here may or may not be the fiancee of Rage's more famous 'Soundchaser' mascot, but Pyracanda themselves were yet another in a large pool of German talent, one of the few bands on the No Remorse Records roster alongside Wardance, Grinder and the now famous Blind Guardian.

You might be able to guess that Pyracanda played a brand of German thrash metal, but they're not quite as raunchy, aggressive or biting as the Big Three (Destruction, Kreator, Sodom). Better comparisons would be early 90s Tankard, Accuser, Living Death, or Vendetta, though the material manifested here would also be of interest to fans of Rage, Risk, and possibly the great Scanner's debut, seeing that the band incorporates just enough melody to straddle the power/speed metal sect. The charging, thick rhythm guitars used often on the album also remind me of Artillery, or perhaps Metallica circa Master of Puppets, though they are nowhere near that quality and you won't hear as many dynamic shifts. Two Sides of a Coin was a worthy debut, with a slick and clean production courtesy of Armin Sabol (who also worked on a few of Rage's great albums like Reflections of a Shadow), rendering it rather timeless in the headphones even if the songs themselves do not rifle through the memory.

"Top Gun" is a rather interesting piece to start the album, with some bass pumping across the steady escalating of the guitar mutes and then one of the most straightforward thrash anthems reminiscent of simpler Metallica or Megadeth, though the thundering power metal bridge and vocals of Hansi Nefen place it firmly in the Germanic camp. Nefen sounds a little like Daxx of Vendetta with some Mike Howe (Heretic, Metal Church) thrown in, with a little uncouth and unnerving decay, powerfully sinister when the role demands it. Most of the songs hit a full on, charging gallop in which muted storms part ways for soaring, simple chords as the band splices in their chorus segments, but they'll usually incorporate some sort of interesting bridge centered on the solo, like the clinical chugging that bisects "Democratic Terror", the chugging backdrop to the lead in "Delirium Tremens", or the melodic bridge supporting "Don't Get Infected".

However, the band breaks pace enough that I'd consider this a well rounded effort. "Dreamworld (Good Bye, Mary Ann)" features a somber acoustic intro similar to some of those used on the Artillery masterpiece By Inheritance, and then some simpler, old school, uplifting hard rock rhythm guitars before the verse. "Welcome to Crab-Louse City" would be the most ambitious epic on the album at 7 minutes, also with a clean prefix and a melodic bridge that create this ambiguous irony with the very silly lyrics. Yes, this is perhaps the greatest thrash/speed metal song ever written about a man's revenge against the head lice that once infested him...and it's not the only one here! "Challenge Cup" also deals with the vermin! Unbelievable! Other tracks that are also unintentionally funny include "Don't Get Infected" with its (obviously) AIDs-related lyrics, the drunken seduction/rejection cycle of "Loser", and "Rigor Mortis", which is apparently about being a thrasher and then...being dead?!

'You used to slam and thrash around but now you're lying underground
your blood runs cold, your flesh decays you must have witnessed better days'

Goofy, English as a second language lyrics aside, though, Two Sides of a Coin is quite competent and consistent. The riffs throughout the album are rarely the type to invoke salivation or the instant desire to re-listen, but they're integrated well enough with the vocals and leads to provide 42 minutes of nostalgia, that is, if you close your eyes and think of German underground metal from the days when it still felt somewhat new. It's not really a 'grower', but it hasn't lost much steam thanks to the powerful, resonant mix and the cloying fact that too few of these bands managed to break out into the next level of success.


Certainly deserved more recognition!!! - 98%

cravingforvenom, February 9th, 2009

Throughout the years, Germany has been a hot as hell region for a genre like thrash metal. While bands like Kreator, Holy Moses, Destruction and Sodom continue to release albums and maintain a massive appeal worldwide, others have not been so lucky sadly. Pyracanda, unfortunately happen to be the unfortunate ones. Despite releasing two well executed thrash albums, they never saw the glory back in the day and have just become another one of those long lost thrash bands. Having said that, their debut album still draws favorable interest amidst hardened heavy metal listeners who would go to any extent to dig up obscurity stricken albums and also the ones who may have heard the band and enjoyed them during their years of activity.

The real reason behind this album still being discussed is the presence of a couple of factors. One is the tight and excellent musicianship that seems almost unsurpassable. The rhythm section had complete hold of their instruments and the vocalist does more than a decent job behind the microphone. The second factor is the neat production work which gives the album a definite edge over a lot of other albums released the same year. The music played here is speedy melodic thrash more along the lines of early Heathen, Swiss thrashers Apocalypse and fellow countrymen Grinder, although not as technical as the Bay Area kings.

As far as the tracks are concerned, each one flows along really well without any jerks and stumbles. The album starter “Top Gun” kicks off with a common E minor riff with some neat bass fills in the background and finally explodes into a fine thrasher with the advent of the drums. The follow up “Democratic Terror” has a lethal combination of the mid section riff and an infectious chorus that is almost hard to miss. This one’s also a fast one with good tight chugs and a melodic solo that’s played at blazing speed. “Delirium Tremens” kicks off with a Megadeth like riff but eventually picks up pace and goes along fairly well.

The next couple of tracks “Challenge Cup” and “Rigor Mortis” continue in the same manner without hampering the flow. Then comes the amusingly titled “Welcome To Crab-Louse City” which may well be the best track on this album. The guitar work and drumming on this is drop dead devastating and pretty much defines what thrash metal is all about. Accentuated by the presence of some excellent piece of singing by the vocalist and also the well timed background shouts, it makes worthy contender in the list of “100 best thrash metal songs of all time”. The next track “Dreamworld” slows down the mayhem and sounds a lot like a NWOBHM tinged hard rocker with just a couple of riffs bordering on thrash.

The closers “Loser” and “Don’t Get Infected” finish things in an absolute uncompromising style. The intro riff on the latter one can best be described as one of the best whereas the former has a catchy German sounding chorus towards the end.

This would probably appeal to every thrash fan around the planet. If you’re looking for thrash metal with the melodic sensibilities of bands like Helloween, Rage, Running Wild or even Liege Lord, then look no further. And if you’re expecting something as punishing as the teutonic trio, then you’d better look around for alternatives that have sprouted out of the South American region.