DARK ROOTS OF THRASH
On my radio show, THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, we have a long running argument about the Bay Area Thrash bands. We talk about if you could only keep one band's catalog, whose would it be. Would it be Metallica? Megadeth? Or would it be this band, Testament. Certainly there is no denying the greatness of MASTER OF PUPPETS or RUST IN PEACE. But with Testament, you have no ST. ANGER. There is no RISK. There is no sellout period, with the exception of DEMONIC where they sold out to the darker side and took a stab at being heavier than they had been to that point. It's a tough debate, really. While I think I'd still take Metallica based solely on the brilliance of the albums up to and through the Black album, there really is no way you could go wrong with the Testament catalog.
THE DREAM CALLS FOR BLOOD
Of all the bands that have made a comeback after a long layoff, I'd say that Death Angel has been the strongest. Without question, and even as a fan of the early days, I'd have to say that their releases since their return have been far stronger than what they did originally. That's pretty big praise when you consider that I'm saying the last decade of Death Angel has produced stronger efforts than THE ULTRA VIOLENCE, ACT III and FROLIC THROUGH THE PARK. That's exactly what I'm saying though. At least in my world, THE ART OF DYING is one of the greatest albums ever to come out of the Bay Area, and each subsequent effort since has been nothing short of stellar. Death Angel returns once again with THE DREAM CALLS FOR BLOOD. While it's definitely not THE ART OF DYING, it's brilliant. Brutal, powerful and unrelenting, THE DREAM CALLS FOR BLOOD is everything we've come to expect from Death Angel over the last decade.
I'd like to take a moment to thank the promoters and record companies worldwide. Thank you promoters for doing so absolutely little to expose Annihilator to America and so many other territories of the world. Thank you to all the record companies that just didn't think they could compete with the rest of the thrash bands in the world. Thanks so much for depriving most of the world from realizing the greatness of this band; a band so incredibly consistent and great that, had they been given a true push, probably would now be referred in the same breath as the Big 4. Annihilator was and is so good that they found their hardcore following in spite of the industry. As the music industry implodes, I can only smile and laugh as a fan of Annihilator. Ultimately, it is getting just what it deserves for the way it treated this band.
I'm really not sure how Havok has done it, but they have once again topped themselves musically and creatively. While creating music with a pretty rigid framework by purposely claiming themselves to be playing "90s era Thrash", Havok finds ways to improve from release to release. On UNNATURAL SELECTION, they just may have peaked. There really can't be much further they can go to get better. A seething cauldron of frenetic rage, UNNATURAL SELECTION finds Havok creating a thrash metal opus that would stand proudly and deservedly next to any Exodus, Overkill or Anthrax release from the past that you want to line it up against. Without question, this Denver band has their shit REALLY together these days.
More than most releases, I've taken a lot of extra time listening to Megadeth's SUPER COLLIDER, if for no other reason than to figure out just why I don't think it's very good. With Megadeth, it's always a scenario where the first few listens remind you of a lot of other stuff they have done. You have to give them more time though, as the Dave Mustaine sound has a way of either sticking with you when it's truly brilliant, or just sounding tired when it's not. Certainly, any metalhead knows the difference between an album like RUST IN PEACE and another like THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO. It's the same guy, and literally the same audio quality of performance, but that spark is completely different between the two albums. With KINGMAKER, Mustaine and company just fall flat, even though it's a well recorded album that's unmistakably Megadeth.