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Random results. - 60%

Diamhea, December 5th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, Mascot Records

Random Damage as a band formed on the ashes of the less successful Aragathor project, and seems to be a little-known and rarely mentioned entry concerning the Vancouver thrash scene. The only reason you might even know of this group is the fact that Ray Hartmann is their drummer. This band is very much a product of the '90s, wherein a number of thrash acts started incorporating groove elements more consistently and forcefully. The effect Pantera's entrance on the scene had is notable, and although most of these bands have been rightfully washed over by the sands of time, Random Damage's eponymous debut is pretty genuine concerning what it delivers, which is groove-augmented, standard fare for the genre with some characteristic attributes that make it stand out ever so slightly for myself.

So if you like Anthrax's output immediately after John Bush joined, I think you will get some mileage out of Random Damage. Jonas Falle has that swinging, bluesy drawl down to a science, and pairing his efforts with lumbering, Sabbathian grooves like on "Power of One" evokes consistent and lucid mental images of Sound of White Noise. I can't call him the most distinctive thrash vocalist ever, but I have come across much more standard fare. Random Damage is strongly dictated by the percussion, insofar that there are lots of sections wherein the guitars retreat entirely, and Hartmann just goes to town. There are frequent shifts in cadence, but the lion's share of the album is in a decidedly mid-paced and percussive mold. Expect lots of pulsating chugging and overall preclusion of true face-ripping moments that I found myself repeatedly asking for. So in this sense, Random Damage aren't quite the answer for the dissenters of this period, but that doesn't mean this is weak material. I dare say this is a convincing alternative to Stomp 442 and the like, honestly.

So amidst all of this ballistic strumming exist some surprisingly decent riffs. These guys have a very distinctive riffing style, with lots of sliding up and down the fretboard. The first two songs contain the most of this, particularly "War Machine." The song's title is surprisingly accurate in this regard, as it sounds like tank treads pulverizing bones when that massive groove riff kicks in. There are also a good bit of harmonic effects, generally tacked onto the end of each measure. It sounds pretty interesting, but not necessarily overtly technical. Doucet and Falle clearly have a relatively encyclopedic grasp on mid-paced thrash, but it does sound like they are intentionally truncating their abilities a bit to fit a specific stylistic mold. The more modern sections are admittedly pretty lame, but the band generally pulls out the monster grooves at the same time, so many of these shakier parts are saved at just the last minute. There is a fair bit of Cowboys from Hell in this band's sound, and while these guys rarely goes off the deep end concerning technicality, many of these songs could easily be shoe-ins for the expected demographic.

It is by no means the strongest example of '90s thrash/groove I've come across, but Random Damage does contain some decent tracks and has a very powerful, triturating inclination on the whole. The production is excessively sterile and sort of kneecaps the power of the riffs a bit. I reviewed one of Pissing Razors' records a few days ago, and that was in a similar vein but sounded ten times as massive thanks to the guitar tone. Average vocalist, good drummer, and just slightly above average results. Random Damage did their own thing and I can appreciate that, but I haven't been able to track down the second album. The band is supposedly still active as well, I wonder if they are planning to record anything new? I guess I'll check it out. Fans of groove/thrash might get a spin or two out of this.