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Re-Animator > Condemned to Eternity > Reviews
Re-Animator - Condemned to Eternity

A Solid Slab of British Thrash - 82%

CuddlySilverback, August 9th, 2017

Re-Animator is another talented British thrash band that never was able to quite make their mark on the genre. Condemned to Eternity essentially left no lasting impact but that is not to say that this album is without worth. The band is very capable and they show their undeniable prowess in their craft throughout the album. The heavy riffs and creative solos on this album permit the listener to a very enjoyable experience. The opening track Low Life is a great example, the song does well to set the darker tone of this album and each member does their job to provide a very standard thrash tune. I would say that each song that follows can be described in the same way. The album isn't anything original or innovative, this came out in 1990 and much of what is done on Condemned to Eternity had been done before many times over. Yet, that should not take away from what is a very entertaining record.

I do have a few grievances with the album though, first would be the instrumentals on the album. The title track, Condemned to Eternity is simply too long; clocking in at nearly 8 whole minutes, the track doesn't evolve enough or do anything that ground-breaking to warrant such a lengthy piece. The second instrumental, What the Funk, should have been thrown out entirely. Perhaps Re-Animator had hoped to dabble in the contemporary push to fuse funk with metal or maybe to add some humor to an otherwise bleak record but it stands out like a sore thumb and has no place on the album. The other problem with the album would be the production. Though the production value is decent, the fuzziness of the sound quality slightly weakens the technical factors and as a result the album isn't able to hit you with its full force.

While this album may not offer anything new it is certainly not a forgettable effort, many of the heavy riffs are memorable as well as the catchy choruses. I would highly recommend this album to anyone who has a deep love for all things thrash like myself. When considering the number of thrash bands during this time, it should be expected that some albums are going to sound very similar in style; not every record can be Bonded by Blood. Condemned to Eternity may not leave the you with a melted face from its pure brutality but it is worthy of a listen.

Unspectacular but worthwhile - 78%

Felix 1666, July 31st, 2017

British thrash metal of the eighties is a very special topic in view of the trials and tribulations of its representatives. Slammer's generic approach was too normal, Acid Reign's apple core too freaky. Sabbat fell apart at the dawn of a promising career. Re-Animator also did not take off in terms of commercial success. They played thrash metal of the tried and tested kind without delivering unique features and it might have a certain logic that they remained an underground combo. Yet I still like "Condemned to Eternity", an album with some really felicitous tracks.

"Room 101" is a stoically stomping thrasher with a catchy chorus. Equipped with a relatively simple structure, it does not overextend the audience and its slightly dark aura fits the lyrics which refer to Orwell's (not so) utopian scenario "1984", where this room is a kind of nightmarish prison. "Techno Fear" delivers another very memorable chorus, because the pinpoint background vocals and an effective melody are connected very well. The guitars commute between sawing sections and challenging leads and create, once again, a pretty dark atmosphere. Admittedly, these songs are not the most intensive ones in the history of thrash, although "Techno Fear" ends with a rather furious section. But they have a certain working class charm and spit in the face of the zeitgeist. Indeed, these songs were already old-fashioned at the time of their publication in 1990.

Other tunes make me think of Re-Animator's compatriots called Atomkraft, another power / speed / thrash band from the United Kingdom that could not leave a presentable trace in the evolution of the genre. This is because sometimes the songs have an almost Teutonic touch due to their pounding rhythms. But Re-Animator also manage up-tempo songs like "Say Your Prayers" which adds dynamic riffing and an energetic element, although the chorus of this track falls flat. Anyway, two numbers leave a more or less stale aftertaste. I doubt that anybody is able to explain why the actually grounded band felt the need to record an instrumental with a duration of nearly eight minutes. In view of the rather conventional song patterns, "Condemned to Eternity" (the track) does not live up to the high standards of European thrash at the end of the eighties. Some melodic solos and mid-paced rhythms have a rather tranquilizing effect. Not to mention the crude bass tones that gain the upper hand for some seconds. Anyway, this track is too long, but doubtlessly acceptable. By contrast, "What the Funk" has to be thrown in the garbage bin, a completely senseless piece. Maybe this is British humour and a kind of parody, but I don't think so. Despite their rather traditional approach, I guess Re-Animator thought it would be cool to pick up a modern trend (remember Mordred and further criminals) while adding a funky note.

The slightly blurred and minimally cloggy production contributes a little dose of filth. The lack of transparency causes a lack of pressure and prevents a batter rating. "Condemned to Eternity" does not suffer from an unacceptable sound, I just miss a higher degree of sharpness. Nevertheless, songs like "Buried Alive" or "Low Life" deliver an appropriate portion of heaviness and aggression. With that said, it remains a shame that the successor of "Condemned to Eternity" already began to herald the end of the formation in view of some very strange experiments. But the here presented output remains a good album, no matter what happened afterwards. I recommend it to those clever boys and girls who have fun to free rather unspectacular yet worthwhile thrash works from dust. Maybe you are one of them.

Back in the queue, a nameless face. - 65%

Diamhea, May 24th, 2014

Despite the revisionist pandering birthed by the retro-thrash movement of the past decade, the UK has always been one of the last picked for thrash class. Germany had their "big three' Teutonic titans, The United States featured a thrash demographic diverse enough to bifurcate into two warring factions on it's own, and even countries like Canada couldn't help but export one or two genre-definers like Annihilator and Voivod thanks to the law of averages alone. Within this genre mixing pot so volatile and diverse we had the little old UK, grumbling away like a lone M&M amongst a sea of Skittles.

While the modern UK thrash scene is hardly an establishment to scoff at, what with acts like Evile and Gama Bomb amongst their indignant ranks, this certainly wasn't always the case. This brings us to passable latecomers like Sabbat and Re-Animator, both of whom were for all intents and purposes far too late to the scene to make a marked impact, but managed to run on the fumes left behind by the razed landscape (courtesy of the thrash movement proper, no less), in the end becoming little more than footnotes once the enormity of the coup being purported upon mainstream music of the time was taken into account. While it has it's blackened heart in the right place, Condemned to Eternity is yet another casualty of the scene it was birthed into. The waning years of thrash and the forced improvisation on the bands' part resulted in some of the most forward thinking and in hindsight, fascinating releases like Dark Angel's Time Does Not Heal and Overkill's Horrorscope. Not all of these telegraphed risks panned out, but desperation often squeezes the best material out of many an act.

With so much chaos erupting around them, Re-Animator couldn't help but find themselves being lapped right away and without the ingenuity to necessarily do anything about it. Condemned to Eternity is a great example of a passable slab of thrash ruined by a piss-poor vocal effort. It is a shame, because Re-Animator definitely have the potential to shake up the pit in a style more reminiscent of East Coast mainstays like Anthrax and Overkill. Observe the way the galloping single-note verses bounce away on "Chain of Command," occasionally opening up into the more melodic, descending chorus. It's a solid framework, but Ingleson's vocal delivery on the chorus is a hot mess. It just doesn't sound good, coming off as rushed and atonal, like many of the less creative vocal hooks that marred Under the Influence two years prior. In fact, many a parallel can be drawn between Condemned to Eternity and Overkill's controversial third LP. "Room 101" totally ganks the thrash break from "Brainfade" and tries to neatly hide it under the solo, but you're not fooling me, guys.

I don't necessarily care, especially if Re-Animator pulled off a superior ode to raw, gutter thrash like they are arguably capable of. Instead we get a featureless amalgam of late '80s thrash influences diffused into a nebulous whole sadly lacking in what made it's influences so memorable. I will concede that Re-Animator have a busy, almost progressive songwriting slant not far removed from Faith or Fear, but it can be difficult to appreciate once the layers of obfuscation and verisimilitude have been navigated. The forward-thinking title track is mercifully an instrumental piece, and has some impressive isolated moments primarily revolving around the solos and leads. So from that point of view, one could theoretically tack Condemned to Eternity on right after The Years of Decay and before Time Does Not Heal to demonstrate how the boundaries of thrash were cumulatively tested until the entire genre imploded in upon itself. Otherwise, there just isn't enough here to warrant repeated listens. Condemned to Eternity serves an important purpose in exemplifying what UK thrash wasn't, rather than what it was during the manic heydey. Only recommended for thrash diehards.

The rear end of eighties UK thrash - 50%

morbert, May 25th, 2010

The U.K. has never been most famous because of thrash. That honour goes to Germany and the US obviously. However Brittain gave us so much brilliant punk, doom, NWOBHM, death metal and grindcore, but let’s not digress. There have been a few great thrash acts in the eighties from the U.K. However Re-Animator were not one of them. A familiar name? Yes, that they were. Thrashers worldwide in the late eighties and early nineties had at least heard their name. Does that alone make this a classic band? No.

Re-Animator are not about speed, nor are they about aggression. This is not a bad thing per say. Mortal Sin did the same. Testament as well around their third and fifth album. But no matter how many cute little ideas Re-Animator throw into their songs now and then, as a whole their compositions are very mediocre and generic. This together with the lack of energy turns ‘Condemned to Eternity’ into a mediocre tedious experience every time.

Best example would be the 8 minute instrumental title track. There a some nice leads, a decent build-up. But after a few minutes it turns into background metal. Not bad, not good. Just sweet and fun while doing the dishes. Nothing really mindblowing.

Also on the rare occasions Re-Animator pick up the pace they always play syncopated (snare on the beat). There is never a really energetic polka beat and in the end one gets the feeling this is a thrash metal album without the thrashing. There’s not much happening on this album which makes you escape reality and dive into the magical world of thrash metal.

Stand-out moments are rare, the main riff on ‘Room 101’ is entertaining, actually turning this into the best song on the album. Re-Animator are best when playing mid paced. When playing somewhat faster of really slow they just don’t cut the mustard. Additionally the band also tends to borrow to obviously from others. The chorus riff on opener ‘Low Life’ for instance sounds too much like Death’s Evil Dead. And the intro to ‘Chain of command’ probably was written when listening too much to Testament’s Legacy and Exodus’ Pleasure Of The Flesh albums.

Re-Animator have always been Testament fans. On their Deny Reality EP the verses on title track had a lot of similarities with Testament’s Trial By Fire. So no Bay Area worship on this ‘Condemned to Eternity’ album can really come as a surprise.

The icing on the cake are weak vocals. When discussing eighties UK thrash it is often stated a lot of bands lacked good vocals. Re-Animator are a classic example. A weak attempt at singing like Chuck Billy without the melody or high pitched screams. The vocals lack all dynamics and the monotony is incredibly boring. Tedious as well after about three songs.

So if you want to dive into the world of late eighties and early nineties U.K. thrash metal, stick to the early albums by Onslaught, Sabbat, Hydra Vein and Xentrix and you might even try Deathwish (who were nicely balancing between thrash and heavy metal and had a great vocalist!) And if you still haven’t had enough, then and only then shall ye try Re-animator, Acid Reign and Lawnmower Death.

As the superpowers clash - 57%

UltraBoris, June 28th, 2003

A decently cool thrash album. A bit too long at times, but when all is said and done, it's a real done-brain-me-with-a-fryin-pan riffset. It sounds like Nuclear Assault "Survive" in general guitar tone, though the overt time changes aren't there... Xentrix is also a pretty good comparison. Damn, these Brits do know how to fucking thrash!!

Anyway... Low Life! Nice opening song, kinda fast and rides a powerful riffset - very catchy. LowLIFE!!! Then, Chain of Command is really the highlight of the album... the vocals at their most menacingly effective, especially in the final verse, and the main chorus! It's the end! No looking back! Also there's a nice thrash break during the chorus, and the riffs are the most powerful of all the songs on here. It's nothing you've never heard before, but it's competently executed, with a nice long solo section too.

Then, the epic number... one oh one!! Calling me!! I have no idea what it's about, but this song and the one before it are just absolutely fucking awesome. This one is a more midpaced number with a real bludgeoner of a verse riff and a nice counterpoint that comes up in the intro, the middle section, and a few other times. A really fast middle section with a sloppy Overkill-esque (Bobby G) solo tops it off.

Then the album slightly loses a bit in its quality... the first three are wicked and godlike, but then the title track is an 8 minute instrumental that kinda sounds like they are playing the same song twice - they go through the same motives and the fact is, while this works for a song with lyrics, as an instrumental the riff set is just not powerful enough to hold up on its own... not like The Ultraviolence, which overwhelms with sheer numbers - 8 or 10 riffs do not carry the entire song well.

Shock treatment - or shock! Burning! As the case may be... a decent song, and almost as good as the first few, though it's a bit too repetitive. Buried Alive is another decent song with a solid riff or two, but again it's not quite as good as those first few. It's not really that anything's missing - if that one were placed first, it may fare better. It may just be that the riffset is a bit too limited. Then again, the middle section is fucking bad-ass.

Technofear, pushing for world domination! Another decent song, and the solo in the middle section is cool, especially when followed by the slightly slower basher of a riff that comes in halfway through it. But again, the verses and chorus are a bit too repetitive... that's again the weakness of the album. It's really quite good, but a bit short of being totally fucking great.

What the Funk? Indeed. No comment. Say Your Prayers seems to be "yet another song" in that there really isn't much more variety compared to the previous ones. On their own, all of these songs are pretty enjoyable, it's just that combined the album grows a bit overlong. Highlights are of course tracks 2 and 3. One oh one!!!