April 13, 2013 by Dan Swinhoe
Though thrash never really went away, it definitely had a rough patch. And while talk of a full on thrash revival may be just the usual media bluster, the scene worldwide is almost as healthy as its late 80s heyday. The old guard- from the ‘Big Four’ and Bay area legends to their German counterparts- are touring and releasing quality albums, while a slew of new bands are breaking through. So to celebrate here’s a couple of thrash reviews. Enjoy.
Iron Reagan- Worse Than Dead
Do you ever listen to Municipal Waste, and think to yourself, ‘lyrics about beer and mutation-inducing radiation just don’t speak to me’? ‘And what’s these long songs? Three minutes? It’s basically prog rock!’
If so, Iron Reagan may be the band for you. Featuring half of Municipal Waste alongside members of Darkest Hour, Worse Than Dead harks back to the crossover thrash bands of the 80s, delivering 19 tracks all under 2 minutes. At 25 minutes, it’s blink and you’ll miss it stuff.
The unmistakable Waste’s Tony Foresta delivers his frantically discharged political observations; song titles such as I Predict The Death Of Harold Camping and I Ripped That Testament A New Asshole, alongside traditional swipes at the establishment fuel the punk energy throughout.
Their self-titled demo from last year was an unexpected bonus, and Worse Than Dead continues very much in the same vein.Each track is a pissed-off punch to the face. Thrash riffs, hardcore simplicity and pur punk fury combine for a potent mix. No filler, no fat. Just rage-inducing speed.
It might be a bit late to join the Reagan-bashing party, but that’s ok. Iron Reagan clearly aren’t trying to reinvent anything, just deliver a shitload of quality tracks in a very brief window, and do it perfectly.
What’s better than thrash revival bands? The genuine original article, repackaged and better than ever.
Though only two albums into their career, Warbeast have pedigree going back to the 80s. Vocalist Bruce Corbitt is a former Rigor Mortis man, six-stringer Scott Shelby plays for Gammacide, while both guitarist Bobby Tillotson and Joe Gonzalez are former Demonseed men. Casey Orr has recently replaced Andre Karst on bass.
2010’s Krush The Enemy was an impressively solid debut that showed why Phil Anslemo had enough faith to sign them to his Housecore label (and also sit in the producer’s chair for both releases), while the War of the Gargantuas split between the two promised even greater things.
From the title tracks alone, you can tell this is about as subtle as a tank smashing through your front window. Egostistical Bastard, Warbeast, Destroy; this is music to get mad and smash things to. The music is raw, from the pummelling of Nightmare in the Sky to the brutal pulverising of Blood Moon,it might not be thinking man’s metal, but it’s still technically excellent. The records is full of razor sharp riffs and squealing solos; whether it’s the seven minute Day Of… or bonus track Nameless, the next fret-hamemring whammy solo is never far away.
The Exhorder influences are still present, but less pronounced as on the debut, slower groove mostly replaced by a Slayer-level intensity sustained for most of the record. Joe Gonzalez’s relentless machine gun drumming propels you through the album at a high velocity, while a thousand shredding riff demands a circle pit at every turn. Corbitt’s bark and straightforward lyrics may not appeal to all, but suite the band’s battering ram approach.
The problem with too many of the new ‘revival’ bands is they simply rehash without pushing the envelope. Warbeast to a great job of combining classic thrash sounds with a modern feel. There aren’t any bands around that sound like Warbeast, and there’s few who could even try to.
If you don’t like thrash, avoid Warbeast, for they are pure thrash incarnate. For the rest of us, Destroy is a step up from their debut, and satisfying to the core.