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In the Zone… with Crushing Determination - 93%

bayern, October 12th, 2017

Another not very known entity from the bottomless pit known as the US underground, a band that didn’t stir it a lot unless you deem the release of two sole demos a stirring. Reportedly they did have a lot of other material lying around, but very little of it saw the light of day until the compilation reviewed here appeared. Sadly, a reformation hasn’t followed suit as of now, but this nearly an hour-long collection more than suffice for one to get a very good idea about what stages the guys have gone through throughout their career.

13 tracks we have featured here that can be divided into two creative periods: one that favours the power/speed/thrash hybrid as practiced by acts like Metal Church, Overkill, early Heathen, and Laaz Rockit; and the other one which shows bigger ambition with more technical, more complex tools of expression siding with Heathen again (their later period), Forbidden, Intruder, etc. The former is more extensively covered, and will make the headbangers quite happy with explosive shots of energy like “The Evil Stepfather” and “Day for Fighting”, impetuous classic speed/thrashers at their smashing best, the excellent forceful David Wayne-like (R.I.P.) vocals another major asset. There’s no letting up anywhere as a few more elaborate arrangements can be come across on the excellent spaghetti western tribute “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, but moments of the kind are swept away by rushing “tornadoes” like the title-track, and especially the short headbangers “Chaos” and “The Mental”.

The “mental” stuff, however, begins from this moment onwards with “Your Life” which introduces the second part of this saga with its choppy, stop-ang-go rhythms and a generally more controlled delivery speed-wise, the riff density threatening to reach the one of Dark Angel’s “Time Does Not Heal” even. Quite a radical change from the simplistic no-bars-held character of the first half as faster-paced developments are out of the question due to the constant rhythmic leaps and bounds. “Procrastination Wall” is another less predictable chopper the band patiently weaving their intricate tapestries with heavy technical riffage recalling Intruder’s “Psycho savant” and Defiance’s “Void Terra Firma”, slight miscalculation being the brutal proto-deathy epitaph. “Drive by Shooting” is even more disorienting and labyrinthine with hectic riffs overlapping each other incessantly, marching unobtrusively until another fast-paced exit the latter growing into a wholesome track, “Bomb Squad”, a more immediate hyper-active ripper. The complex stakes are high, though, on “Headless Horseman”, listed as a bonus track, an ambitious progressiver with a less edgy power/thrashy layout the staple now speedy finale firmly in place again.

The full package here pretty much the band making a great overview of the US metal circuit of the 80’s and the early-90’s, combining its more immediate with its more complex side into a one-hour power/speed/thrashy fiesta the only unmitigated flaw being the uneven sound quality at times with the second half being the superior in this sense, obviously arriving later chronologically. We can’t say that the guys have been toiling in the underground having in mind that this is largely their entire discography, but it’s always good to see unsung heroes finding the way to remind of themselves in a more official form sooner or later.

This was a posthumous release with the band in a passive mode at the time, one that is still ongoing, a probable reason for this dormancy being that most of the musicians are involved at present with the groove post-thrashers Throttle Z; needless to add, the styles of both projects can’t be any more different. Yes, it’s true that once in the groove, it’s hard to get out of it… but it wasn’t before long when crushing determination could produce miracles, like digging “arcane” old school metal sounds out of the deepest bowels of the underground… in other words, the exit from there should be a piece of cake.