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How did this one slip through the cracks? - 90%

worgelm, September 6th, 2005
Written based on this version: 1991, CD, Atlantic Records

The band's swansong under the "Wrathchild America" moniker, this album is impressively executed, impeccably produced by Alex Perialias (Testament, Anthrax, etc) and superbly written, managing to impress with its creativity and technical brilliance - right up until the bonus track, an unfortunate Albert Collins cover "I Aint Drunk, I'm Just Drinkin". "Dreamtime" is a creepy, tripped-out delight ("When satin feels like broken glass/I know it's time to smile"), while there is some downright brutal progressive thrash on "Gentleman Death", "Desert Grins" and "What's Your Pleasure".

The band is at once ferocious, tight, balancing accessibility with progressive influences and good-natured humor - "Surrounded By Idiots" is a great, driving anthemic slab of fun-metal that should have dominated alongside of the likes of Scatterbrain. And aptly-named instrumental "Prego" ("Its in there !") is just so goofy that you might miss how technically incredible it really is, managing to outdo even the excellent "Hernia" from _Climbing the Walls_ by a longshot. However the band's most enduring and progressive numbers are unquestionably the James Bond metal of "Spy" - one of the catchiest thrash metal songs ever penned, and "II", which incorporates epic thrash, prog and reggae influences into a shockingly cohesive whole.

While I enjoyed these songs as they are very much both at the time the album was released and now, I suspect some will find the vocals an acquired taste. But the savage instrumental work turned in by this quartet will win the vast majority of you over. If you were into any of the big thrash bands of the late 80s-early 90s, you owe it to yourself to get to know these Maryland boys who almost struck big.