posted on 9/2008 By:
To tell the truth, I really could not give a rat's ass about the current thrash revival. To my ears Reign in Blood and Pleasure to Kill sound just as good now as they did twenty-odd years ago and I do not need them rehashed by some young upstarts. Hence, I was fully prepared to tear apart this Strikemaster EP, Inflexible Steel for being a tired, redundant rehash of a style long past relevance. The funny thing is, three tracks into my second listen, the epic solo section in “Messiah of the Damned” shattered the armor of my prejudice like a blow from the hammer of Thor and I was laid bare, defenseless, to the fearsome assault of the redoubtable Strikemaster. It was then that I was forced to confront the undeniable truth: Redundancy be damned, these motherfuckers can thrash!
With the speed and ferocity of thrash titans like Kreator, Sodom and Slayer, the shout along choruses of Anthrax and technical flourishes in the vein of Coroner, Strikemaster are a formidable thrash unit. Guitarist/vocalist, Colonel KMU is the heart of this trio, unleashing a torrent of neck damaging riffs, flashy solos and a frantic vocal delivery that matches the speed of his right hand. The rhythm section provides rock solid support for The Colonel’s thrash firestorm. Bassist, Captain Ricardo’s punchy no frills playing perfectly accents the riffs amidst the rapidly shifting tempos. Drummer, Commander Chavez plays with both finesse and power, mixing straight ahead thrash beats with some well placed double bass.
The four studio tracks on Inflexible Steel are hampered by a guitar sound that is a little thin, but the playing is ferocious enough to overshadow this flaw. Some highlights from this portion of the EP include the coda of the title track which features an extended solo from Omen’s Kenny Powell (I’m probably supposed to know who that is.), the frantic conclusion to “O.M.D.” and the afore mentioned solo section of “Messiah of the Damned”.
The three live tracks at the end of Inflexible Steel are where Strikemaster really shines. The playing is a little rougher but the tracks have a feral brutality to them that doesn’t quite come across on the studio tracks. When the band kicks into the mosh riff on “Merciless Machine”, I find myself searching the house for something to smash, and I mean that in a good way. Similarly, when the Colonel screams for a circle pit during “Thrashing the Blind School” I feel compelled to form one (It's just me and a Heineken can, but it's still fun.).
Given my professed apathy towards new thrash, I cannot say how Strikemaster compares to any of the other thrash revivalists competing for your cash. I can say, however, that I found Inflexible Steel to be a pleasant little trip back to 1986, and I am definitely going to listen to it again.
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