Out For Blood
posted on 4/2006 By:
I know it’s a long review, but these guys have been around for 20 years, so there’s a lot to talk about…oh yeah, and it’s Bay Area thrash!
Old-timer metalheads such as myself have very fond memories of The Bay Area Thrash Years - a time when the metal world was barraged by relentless thrash attacks from a little pocket of land in northern California. By 1986, Metallica had already released three seminal albums that planted a very fertile seed in the womb of an area that had previously seemed only capable of spawning hippie-love-your-neighbor-sing-songy bullshit. There was excellent heavy music coming from all over the world during this crucial time, but metalheads seemed to be eating up Metallica’s brand of thrash quicker than The Fat Boys ate Whoppers, and the Bay Area had plenty of other talented bands ready to step up to the plate and get noticed – Exodus, Testament, Death Angel, Forbidden, Vio-Lence, and the hugely underrated Heathen were all poised and ready to become the next big Bay Area thrash band.
Nestled just below the radar (and a little further underground) was Antioch, California’s thrash legends, Sadus. To this day I still remember a conversation I overheard nearly 20 years ago in a record store between two dudes talking about a nearly impossible album to find called Illusions, from a band that supposedly had a bass player that rivaled (gasp) Cliff Burton. I never found my own copy of the record, but I did get a dubbed version from a good friend of mine which was quickly worn out from overplay. Sadus’ brand of thrash was definitely worth the hype that surrounded them. Fast, furious, dual riffing made even more venomous by Darren Travis’ seething vocals, but with a rhythm section that brought a bubbling heaviness that only the unbelievable bass abilities of Steve Digiorgio could deliver. Unfortunately for Sadus, it wasn’t until 1990’s Swallowed In Black that they would release an album more readily accessible to the metal public, thanks to Roadrunner Records. The album hit during a time when a lot of metalheads tastes were turning towards the burgeoning death metal scene, so Sadus remained an extremely talented band playing a genre of metal that had quickly become over-saturated with mediocrity and late-to-the-game bandwagon jumpers. Sadus continued releasing albums, but only sporadically- 1992’s Vision of Misery, 1997’s Elements of Anger, and now this, their 5th full-length album in their nearly 20yrs of existence.
So what kind of wizardry does Steve & company cast with this highly anticipated release? Well, it’s a mixed bag, to be perfectly honest. I have a feeling this album’s gonna make some people mad, but when it’s all said and done, Out For Blood is definitely an interesting record, and one I believe warrants further investigation. What’s gonna get thrashers collective bee’s abuzz is the ‘new’ flavor found on a few of the tracks. I didn’t say ‘nu’, I said ‘new’. I don’t actually know how to classify the sound- whether it’s Meshuggah, Slipknot, or who-the-fuck, I’ve never actually owned an album by any of them. What I do know, however, is there’s too much ‘dugga-duh, dugga-duh, dugga-duh’ going on for my tastes. The unfortunately titled “Smackdown” would fit exactly where you’d imagine – nestled right between Triple H’s giant thighs during a piledriver. Track 7, “Down”, has similar chugging, but mixes in a bit more thrash, leaving it sounding more like later era Forbidden. And the utterly bizarre 2nd track, “No More”, mixes a frightfully strange keyboard into the formula that did little more than raise my brow into the ‘does this fucking fit here?’ look. The odd keyboards make a return in the 5th song, “Lost It All”, but they take a back seat about 3minutes in to make room for some fine interplay between Digiorgio’s bass and Travis’ guitar.
On to the good elements- Track 1, “In The Name Of”, starts the album off rippingly. Its got a Bay Area thrash meets Atheist feel and displays the seamless interplay between guitar, bass and drums perfectly. These fellers have been playing together for quite some time, and this track is proof enough that they come damn close to sharing the same brain. When things are moving really quickly, it’s utterly amazing to hear how in synch these guys are with one another. The title track is another mid-to-high paced thrasher, but at 3:30 in the bass absolutely bottoms out for a riff that would fit snuggly on Autopsy’s Severed Survival (which, coincidentally, had none other than Steve Digiorgio on bass). Track 6, “Sick”, and track 9, “Freak”, are classic nods back to fast, destructive Bay Area thrash, and stand out as the strongest cuts on the album. Digiorgio and Travis intertwine tighter than two pythons on a fat rat and display a technicality that’s simply amazing. “Freedom” and “Cursed” stray a bit more into a prog-ish thrash zone as opposed to viciously jumping at your throat, but again display fine, technical interplay. The last track, “Crazy”, features none other than Chuck Billy on deathish vocals, and slows things down to nearly a doomish crawl before gaining velocity and ending the album with layered ‘crazy talk’. It’s also amazing to me that Darren Travis’ vocals haven’t really lost much venom since ’88. His voice falls somewhere between Sacrifice’s Rob Ubinati or Atheist’s Kelly Shaefer in delivery.
I’ve seen very mixed reviews from people in regards to Out For Blood. It’s my opinion the good outweighs the bad, but if you’ve never heard the band before and this has somehow peeked your interest, I’d actually recommend starting off with the re-release of their first official album. For whatever reason, Illusions was re-released in ’91 under the name Chemical Exposure. It’s a bloody classic and certainly deserves to be in any thrash fans collection. As far as Out For Blood is concerned, I’d say it’s best suited for those with a hunger for 'envelope pushing' thrash metal.
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