The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Posts Tagged ‘thrash metal

AT WAR – Infidel – CD Review

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It was 1987 when I first met and saw these guys.  I was with some former friends and I think we were at the keg party on atwar_infidelPotter’s Rd seeing Ratchet.  I saw them live shortly thereafter and was just blown away.  Pure American thrash.  They were good friends with another band from that area that I loved, O.T.T., so I got to see and hang out with these guys often.  I believe I may have only seen them live twice, which was a pity since they were local homeboys.

It was pretty exciting for me when Paul sat in with my Motorhead tribute band and sang The Hammer.  What an honor!  It’s really only been in recent years that I really got to know those guys and again, it’s a pity that I don’t live near them these days.  Paul and I have become great pals and I got to hang with him here in Austin quite a bit a few months ago when he came in for a visit.  What a blast!  He’s still a maniac.  I love it.

But I guess I am here to talk about their latest album, Infidel.  All of us have been asking those guys for years when they would get back together and do another album.  We always heard the same thing, “It’s coming.”  Sure, Paul.  It had been coming for 20 years!

But then it happened.  Boom.  At War got on Myspace.  Started posting news about recording an album with the world famous Alex Perialas.  The buzz got going and I was excited that they were really doing it.

So when the record came out, I pulled the rock star card and emailed Paul with “Where’s my copy?”  It was said facetiously as anyone who knows me knows I always buys CDs and even hate being on the guest list for a band.  Those folks aren’t playing for free, ya know?  But Paul sent me one anyway.  It was nice to see my name in the special thanks, albeit undeservedly.

So I put the album on right when it came in.  BOOM!

AT WAR!  Infidel!

Fourteen seconds of noise and then it’s Paul Arnold in your face on the opener Assassins.  Hot damn, this sounds like At War!  I’ve listened to this about 15 times now and there’s not a stinker in the bunch.  If you’ve ever liked At War, then you still will.  This really picks up where they left off 22 years ago, except with better production.

It’s difficult for a band that gets back together to record 15+ plus years after the fact and to be able to retain the level of good metal that they once had.  At War did it with this one.  To be truthful I like this one even better than their previous albums.  I really don’t think I am being biased at all.  This album kills.  It’s At Wars perfect blend of Venom, Motorhead and their own touch of thrash that really always set them a bit apart of other thrash bands of their time.

So…Nice work Paul, Shawn and Dave!  Now bring the show to Austin, you fuckers!

Visit them on Myspace.

Written by The Metal Files

October 29, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Watchtower – Energetic Disassembly (1985)

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I remember clearly the first time I saw this on cassette.  It was at the Music Man at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk, VA.  WATCHThe cover was upside down as compared to how the majority of cassette j-cards were printed.  It always struck me as odd but I always felt it was intentional, especially after listening to this album at least 100 times since I first heard it.  It certainly turned my mind upside down several times.

My friends and I were pretty shocked by this one.  Most of us were into thrash ala Overkill’s Feel the Fire, Anthrax, Testament etc…but this was something different.  Something special even.

The album opens with a frenetic frantic pace with crazy guitar riffs, insane bass lines and hyperactive drumming.  They don’t stop until the end of the album.  Mix all of this with Jason McMaster’s incredible vocals that cut through all of this madness and you have a perfect technical thrash album…perhaps the first truly technical thrash album.  Some may debate that one but for me, this is the first.

While I love every song on this album, my absolute favorites are Tyrants In Distress, Violent Change, Meltdown and Argonne Forest.  The whole band really seems to just be together and well-rehearsed.  Billy White (f. Don Dokken), Doug Keyser and Rick Colaluca just flat out lay it down on this album.  Period.

I still don’t feel that this album gets enough respect although some of the major metal players loved them such as Chuck Schuldiner (RIP) and Dream Theater.  Watchtower set the standard early for technical metal.  Their popularity is Europe still seems to be pretty strong as I believe they’re playing one of the Euro-Metal fests in 2010.  It seems that they are still pretty huge in Greece.

While Control and Resistance was a good follow-up and was partially written by Billy White, a lot changed in their sound.  Ron Jarzombek (Spastic Ink) and Allan Tecchio (Hades, Non-Fiction) do a fine job, but the loss of Jason McMaster and Billy White took them down a slightly different progressive thrash metal path.  Both albums are certainly worth owning, but I have always preferred the debut.

Watchtower is in the studio recording a new album with McMaster on vocals (!!!) and I can’t wait to hear the whole thing.  Hopefully I’ll finally get to see them live.

Living here in Austin, TX now, it is great to see how much that band is loved and respected around here.  It gives me a warm tingly feeling.  It’s also pretty incredible for me to have McMaster in my Motorhead tribute band.  He’s a talented musician all the way around and bring a lot of energy to the band on rhythm guitar and backing vocals.  Certainly one of my musical idols.

If you don’t own Energetic Disassembly and you like thrash, prog-metal, RUSH on steroids, you need to own this one.

Just do it.

“Breakdown, warning – Nuclear nightmare, reality”

Damien Thorne – Sign of the Jackal – CD Review

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Damien Thorne hit the scene in 1986 with their debut release Sign of the Jackal on Roadrunner Records.  At that time thorneRoadrunner had decent distribution and their tapes and records were in most stores.  I am pretty sure a former friend from high school and I were out and about when this one got discovered.  Sometimes it gets hard to remember.  Doesn’t matter.  This was a good discovery.

Damien Thorne fit the category for what I considered speed metal with a hint of NWOBHM in them.  Justin Fates vocals were definitely the high point for me with these guys.  He reminded me a lot of Glen May from Tyrant (LA)…good normal singing voice and great high notes heavily laden with reverb/delay/chorus.  Good times!

Since I was listening to this on cassette for many years, side 2 would be considered my favorite side.  Hell’s Reign, Escape or Die, Siren’s Call and Damien’s Procession (March of the Undead).  Side 1 wasn’t shabby by any means, but the album got better as it went along.

DT had pretty decent riffs and good drumming with some good straightforward double bass stuff in it.  Most of the songs are good mid-paced US metal.

While Damien Thorne weren’t any sort of groundbreaking act, the debut is certainly worth tracking down.  The  CD version was available for a few years but seems to be out of print now.

Tonight was the first time I have spun this in a few years and it really brought back good memories of my high school years (there weren’t many) of hanging out in Churchland with the old crew…

Man, looking back it’s a wonder that some of us are still alive.  Well, sadly, some of us aren’t.  It’s interesting to see who ended up where doing what.

Going back and listening to some of these old albums really sets off some stuff in the brain.  It’s a good stroll down memory lane with some music that always takes me back.  I definitely wore out a few cassette copies of Sign of the Jackal.  Riding around in my 66 Nova II 4dr.  While I generally don’t miss those days, there were enough good times intertwined with friends and music that will never be forgotten.  Luckily I talk to friends that remind me of an album or I listen to an album that reminds me of some old friends.

Download it here. Buy it if you can find it.

Written by The Metal Files

September 22, 2009 at 9:06 pm

The Big 4 Tour? Blech!

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Seriously?  There’s all this talk about Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax doing a tour together.  I wouldn’t go  no ThrashBandsRulematter how “legendary” it might be.  Let’s just face facts here (my facts!):  Metallica hasn’t put out anything worth listening to since maybe And Justice for all.  Slayer hasn’t released anything decent since Seasons in the Abyss.  Anthrax was lifeless after State of Euphoria.  Megadeth has made a good run of it in the last 5 years, but they wouldn’t be enough for me to want to see the other bands.  I believe they are coming near here with Slayer in a few months.  I’ll likely go and leave before Slayer comes on, just like I did last year when Judas Priest came on, I was out of there.

Now on the marketing side of this, it would be ideal if all of the egos could work it out.  Every band would stand to make a lot of money…mainly by having Metallica on the bill.  They sell out everywhere they play (insert easy joke here!).  Money wise it’s a no brainer as long as these bands don’t actually have to speak to each other.

There are certainly other thrash bands I’d much rather see than these.

Sometimes I really miss the old days.

Written by The Metal Files

September 18, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Concert Review – Hirax – Austin, TX – 08/29/09

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It was 1986 and Metal Blade Records was practically the greatest metal label on the scene.  They consistently released hiraxgreat compilations like the Metal Massacre and Best of Metal Blade series.  Best of Metal Blade Volume 1 (1986) included Call Of The Gods by Hirax.  I always loved that song but for no logical reason whatsoever did I never check them out any further.  I also liked Bombs of Death from Metal Massacre 6.  There’s really no explanation as to why I didn’t follow through on these guys, and after last night I feel like I missed out on some additional great metal in the last 23 years.

So about a month or so ago I read in the local show listings that Hirax was coming to Red 7.  Even though I was not even remotely familiar with any of their material beyond the 2 aforementioned songs, I definitely wanted to see this show.  Through the years I’ve always seen Hirax playing the Euro festivals and have read interviews with Katon W. DePena and have always respected his attitude about music.  The guys has proudly been flying the flag of metal since day 1.

So I get to the club a little early to get MM6 and Best of Metal Blade 1 signed as well as my copy of “Headbangers: Worldwide Megabook of Heavy Metal” (Mark Hale, 1993).  I know the club owner pretty well and he let me go in to the green room to meet Katon and the band.  I was looking forward to this for a few reasons.  One to meet Katon, who really is a true metal legend.  The other reason was to meet Glenn Rogers, former guitar player of Deliverance.  I dug those guys back in the day.  When I went into the room, Katon was in there with his lovely wife, his bassist and guitarist Lance and Steve Harrison and some other guy that I didn’t know.  Glenn was out and about with a friend so I would catch up with him later.

Katon invited me over and we talked for a bit just about music and such and Katon asked about my book.  As he’s flipping through it reading about his band and tons of other obscure bands that are listed in the book.  He signed it and my 2 CD covers and said, “Is DRI in here?  The guy beside me if Felix from DRI.”  Felix thought they wouldn’t be in there but I knew they were.  Much to everyone’s pleasure, there was even a picture of band during the era that Felix was in it (85-90).  I hung out for a bit and asked Katon if he ever had any interactions with Billy Milano, which he had.  So I asked if he wanted to walk over to the club that Billy works in to say hello.  We popped over there for a bit and they shook hands and caught up for a few minutes then I took them over to another club so Katon could catch up with an old friend who unfortunately wasn’t there at the time.  Back to Red 7.  It was great seeing the respect this guy was getting from people in the club, some of who came from Houston and I think a few from Mexico to see this show.

I really expected a much larger crowd, especially with this being on a Saturday.  Typically the San Antonio crew would come up for a show like this but I only saw a few folks from that crowd there.  The Sword was playing up the street for the 2nd night in a row and I can’t imagine they stole much of the crowd from this show.  The club booked 4 grindcore bands to open up which I thought was a bad pairing.  I didn’t go in to check out the other bands as I’m not really a fan of the grind stuff in general.  While the grind bands were playing I got to talk to Glenn Rogers who let me know that Deliverance was going to do one more album with the original lineup sans the drummer.

But then it was time for Hirax.  It was already around 1 or 1:10 AM but the crowd had increased.  I’m guessing there were about 90 people in there.  Cover charge was $15.  Well worth it for me.  Hirax kicked in and just kicked ass.  Katon is a great frontman, reminds me a lot of Jason McMaster.  Knows to to work a crowd and keep them interested during guitar tunings and such.

I have to say that I was truly blown away and really felt a bit guilty about not having checked them out deeper.  But there’s no time like the present, right?  Their set was cut short due to time restraints and I must say I was a little let down that Call of the Gods wasn’t on the set at all.  But it didn’t matter, they were great and I hope they make their way back to Austin again.

Setlist as I remember it:

  1. El Dia De Los Muertos
  2. 100,000 Strong
  3. Blind Faith
  4. New Age of Terror
  5. Chaos and Brutality
  6. Hate, Fear and Power
  7. Broken Neck
  8. Bombs of Death
  9. El Diablo Negro
  10. Walk With Death
  11. Mouth Sewn Shut?

I am not so sure about the ones after El Diablo Negro.

Katon W. De Pena (Hirax), fat dude (me), Felix Griffin (DRI)