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That guy on the cover is Cliff Burton escaping. - 70%

Gutterscream, May 12th, 2007
Written based on this version: 1984, 12" vinyl, Shrapnel Records

On the visual surface with their puny title, name, and sleeve combo, CA’s Trauma could’ve easily been overdressed in overcolored Crue-ish tatters, handed a lite beer, and then enlisted in the time’s rock hard regime. Seriously, the triune of fundamentals listed above almost made this lp appear as a no-brain butt rocker, and with but a look it could’ve been buy or die or nay and go away depending on the peruser. If you hadn’t flipped the record over for the leather-clad band snapshot, this lp could’ve wound up fending for itself amongst the hairspray cans of some unsuspecting buyers. However, within the periphery of the cover’s predictable, fleeing-the-scarlet-depths motif, there is the extension of its unforgiving stone walls. At least this was my impression upon my first glimpses of the jacket. Of course, from the eye of the cover’s original idea, the walls probably mean nothing outside the obvious, but my occasionally far-fetched symbolism saw the five-piece’s sound (the escapee) pushing the ‘rocky’ stairwell apart i.e. pushing boundaries/limitations. Simultaneously, he’s getting the hell out of the commercial rock/metal abyss. I mean, jeez, it’s ’84, and the tide was turning, so let me have my little high hope even if I myself, while listening to this thing spin, saw that my dinky daydream was all baloney.

Yeah, Trauma shoved a bit, but were never overpowering. Best known for entertaining bassist Cliff Burton somewhere along the line, Scratch and Scream divulges chunks of traditionalism layered with a desire for medium-strength speed metal and transient power metal cleanliness. Unfortunately, aside from spicy opener “The Day all Hell Broke Loose”, a lot of taste is missing from the whole thing.

“The Day all Hell Broke Loose” is your cutting edge icebreaker, veined in the forerunning, accelerated spirit of “Let it Loose” from Savage’s Loose ‘n Lethal and “Dutch Connection” at the front of Jaguar’s Power Games attack and is easily the most driven of the lp’s gang. From here on things slide slowly downhill, starting near the top of the peak with lightly above average “Bringin’ the House Down” and gradually loses footing with “I Kill for Less” and the title cut, a pair of tracks equal in nondescript trad-metal trance to side two’s “In the End” and “We are Watching You”. Even the finale, a drawn out, patchwork quasi-ballad called “The Flight of the Raven”, captures little catchiness or intrigue and sounds thrown together without much primer. Other than that, it’s the responsibility of “Lay Low” and “The Warlock” to keep the effort real (or at least worthwhile), and with a decent amount of muscle they strain to keep the nine-songer shoulders above water only barely.

Most important in this lp’s gradual erosion is its lack of songwriting grit. Without being memorable or interesting, riffs and structures sputter somewhere near the lower half of the excitement barrel, and most renowned Shrapnel virtuosity stares vacantly at these tracks. Then there’s Donny Hillier, a characterless singer going at it with fairly high, constricted notes and a demeanor that rushes them to somewhat annoying levels, yet contrarily, they’re not even sung that quickly. Together, these wayward essentials are partners in the crime that sucked Scratch and Scream fairly dry.

Average is a mild gloss verdict for this disk.

Fun fact 9845.5a: a pre-Chastain Leather Leone sits in the rear for some backing vocal action, not that you’d ever know it.