Danger-Us: Wrathchild (America)

Rating: 85%

322836After recording with Kix, Brad Divens and the gang created Wrathchild which would soon be called Wrathchild America. They released their 1983 demo “Danger Us” which is pure Heavy Metal leaning toward the Hair Metal genre, but without going full force. I was lucky enough to find a copy of this demo on Youtube and was able to download it into my collection.

It’s interesting to hear how Wrathchild sounded so close to KIX, but much heavier. It’s got screaming vocals, great riffs, and sweat leads. It also has a lot of fast tempos which could  boarder line Thrash Metal. It also has that New Wave of British Heavy Metal feel to it. You can hear it on the song “Metal Madness.” Something good is happening as the pot stirs which in a few years later would lead into “Climbin’ the Walls.”

Track listing:

1. Danger-US 03:39
2. Heartache Queen 04:29
3. Metal Madness 02:45
4. Roll the Dice 05:03


…And They Shall Take Up Serpents: Byzantine

CoverbyzserpentsRating: 90%

I have always enjoyed the Heavy Metal scene in the region. For me, growing up, bands like Wrathchild America, Clutch, and Kix among others was a good thing. Well, Byzantine is no different hailing from Charleston, WV. They have a unique style that take Thrash, Groove, and Prog Metal and blending it together to make their sound. “…And They Shall Take Up Serpents” released in 2005 is the second studio album by the band. It literally can stand up and go head to head to In Flames, Pantera, and or Mastodon paying homage to the 1990’s Groove Metal.

Musically, the tempos are slower than that of Thrash, more aggressive and tight. It has some outstanding rhythms and leads. Some of the scales are interesting. The riffs are very heavy, but polished. The vocal style is very close to In Flames where the main verse is harsh with clean chorus lines. Lyrically, the album talks about life in West Virginia from the “Redneck War” when the coal miners rose up against coalmines themselves to the religious practice of taking up serpents in the name of God.

The musicianship is pretty tight overall. You have Chris “OJ” Ojeda on vocals, guitars, and piano. Tony Rohbrough on guitars as well as bass. Matt Wolfe on drums and acoustic guitar.

Track listing:

1. “Justicia” 4:07

2. “Taking Up Serpents” 3:12

3. “Jeremiad” 6:00

4. “Ancestry of the Antichrist” 5:54

5. “Temporary Temples” 4:59

6. “Five Faces of Madness” 5:29

7. “Red Neck War” 5:39

8. “Pity None” 3:58

9. “The Rat Eaters” 4:31

10. “Salem, Ark” 4:31

Souls At Zero: Souls At Zero

souls at zero.jpgRating: 90%

After being drop from their record label in 1992, Wrathchild America changed their name for a fresh start. The end result was Souls At Zero. The new album was released in 1993, the third for guys, the debut for the new name. Losing more of the Thrash Metal sound and faster tempos, Souls At Zero began experimenting with Groove Metal with the Prog influence. The end result is a record that falls perfectly in line with Wrathchild America’s “3-D” which is where this album picks up as.

Brad Divens sounds the same with his graspy vocal style. His bass playing is killer. He really lays down some funky bass lines. Guitarists Jay Abbene and Terry Carter play some very tight riffs that has a bit of crunch. You can hear more of an experimental with other genres of music in the guitars. The guitar leads and fills are top notch. Shannon Larkin just kills it on drums. For an older band with a new image and name, these guys are playing tighter, more aggressively than previously. The Thrash element has almost ceased to exist.

Track listing:

1. “Frustration” 4:37

2. “Never” 5:22

3. “Look” 4:16

4. “Hardline” 4:40

5. “Lost” 6:19

6. “Checkin’ Out” 4:20

7. “Souls at Zero” 5:37

8. “Grey World” 4:28

9. “Not You” 6:10

10. “Crowded Head” 4:35

11. “Welcome to the 90s” 4:18

12. “Mind’s Eye” 8:34

Refuge Denied: Sanctuary

Rating: 85%

Sanc_refdenied.jpgIn 1987, Sanctuary released their debut record, after being discovered by Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. When this album was released, I was blown away. It was the most original sounding metal I’ve heard. It was fresh.

Musically, this is just good ol’ Heavy Metal that some Thrash and Power Metal influences thrown in. It’s well balanced and very creative. If you were looking for a band that was going for the middle ground of what was out there at the time, but trying to separate themselves from the mainstream, then this was the band. It has many good riffs, killer leads and solos. This album has very interesting tempos. It also has some great offbeats that seems to give an edge to the music, making it a great listen. Awesome screaming high pitched vocals that range upwards to the soprano levels considering the vocalist is a natural baritone.

The musicianship is very good. Warrel Dane is one hell of a front man. His style actually comes from his training as an opera singer. Be cause of that, his vocal range is very broad. Guitarists Lenny Rutledge and Sean Blosl are dominating this album with fast riffs and excellent lead solos. You can almost describe their style as classical. Bringing up this rich sounding rhythm is bassist Jim Sheppard and drummer Dave Budbill.

Track listing:

Side 1
1. “Battle Angels” 4:52
2. “Termination Force” 3:40
3. “Die for My Sins”  3:42
4. “Soldiers of Steel”  5:30
Side 2
5. “Sanctuary”  3:57
6. “White Rabbit” 3:10
7. “Ascension to Destiny” 4:57
8. “The Third War”  3:52
9. “Veil of Disguise”  5:55

Violent Restitution: Razor

Rating: 90%

Razor+violent+restitution+'88.jpg1988 and where was I at? Jamming it loud and proud with all kinds of Death and Thrash Metal. It was a good year and this release by Razor was no exception. It’s funny how almost 30 years later, we only hear about the American Big Four, whom we won’t mention by names.

Musically, this album is very meaty, it’s full, and rich. And yet, as good as the sound is, it’s still raw, powerful, and energetic. It’s got huge crunchy riffs which are very choppy at times. Those riffs is what makes this album very exciting to listen to. The leads solos are phenomenal and explosive. The backing vocals are strong as are the lead vocals.

The musicianship is really tight. The entire band sounds great. Stace McLaren on vocals are damn fine. The riffs and leads are conducted by Dave Carlo. The bass lines are by Adam Carlo, and the drumming is by Rob Mills.

This album is a fine example of how Thrash Metal was and sounded during the 1980’s. Never mind the Big Four, check out some of the lesser known Thrash Metal bands like this Razor.


Track listing:

1. “The Marshall Arts” 2:45
2. “Hypertension” 3:21
3. “Taste the Floor” 2:07
4. “Behind Bars” 2:15
5. “Below the Belt” 2:54
6. “I’ll Only Say it Once” 2:28
7. “Enforcer” 3:44
8. “Violent Restitution” 2:33
9. “Out of the Game” 2:47
10. “Edge of the Razor” 4:15
11. “Eve of the Storm” 3:20
12. “Discipline” 2:55
13. “Fed Up” 2:30
14. “Soldier of Fortune” 2:59

Queen of Siam: Holy Moses

Rating: 75%

Holy_Moses_-_Queen_of_SiamIn 1986, the Speed and Thrash Metal community was taken by a storm with the debut of Holy Moses. But once the dust settled, and the years past, they became one of the those average Thrash Metal bands. Since then, these German musicians have been overshadowed by other bands like Sodom and Kreator.

The musicianship upon first listening is super tight. Vocalist Sabina Classen has that classic Black Metal style. She has the growls, shrills, and the screams down. When I hear this album with her vocals, I think of Celtic Frost and Hellhammer. Guitarist Andy Classen knows his ax. He throws out some well though of riffs and leads. His overall sound isn’t as heavy as Sodom or Slayer, but he does sound good. Bassist Ramon Brüsseler can be heard clearly in the back. He adds a certain harmony to the overall melody. Kicking and pounding the skins is drummer Herbert Dreger.


Lead vocalist Sabina Classen

Overall and musically, this is a pretty solid debut for a mid 1980’s Thrash Metal band. The sound is raw. It does lack a certain degree of aggression to the overall music. A tad bit more effort could have gone into some of the songs. Some of the songs seem more like a filler. But then again, other songs like “Walpurgisnight and “Don’t Mess Around with the Bitch” the band just nails it with energy and excitement.

The music itself isn’t full or rich, but it does have that nice thrashing feel to it. The tempos are built upon speed and I do like the guitar fill ins whether they be during a verse or part of the bridge. I do like the vocals as they do add a certain evil feel to the overall music. I think Sabina Classen is talented for that and many female vocalist should look up to her as she was one of the first doing this.

Track listing:

“Necropolis” – 3:39
“Don’t Mess Around with the Bitch” – 5:35
“Devil’s Dancer” – 4:20
“Queen of Siam” – 4:24
“Roadcrew” – 3:12
“Walpurgisnight” – 3:21
“Bursting Rest” – 3:39
“Dear Little Friend” – 5:36
“Torches of Hire” – 3:06

Dealing With It!: D.R.I.

Rating: 90%

DRI_-_Dealing_with_ItOne genre that I love is Hardcore Punk, especially when that genre crosses over to Trash Metal. This is exactly what D.R.I. was doing when this album came out in 1985. Several of the songs on this record were on the previous Dirty Rotten and Violent Pacification albums.

This album also contains versions of songs that have different lyrics or the rhythm sections are slowed. Either way, this is a great album to have that demonstrates how a Hardcore Punk band develops that Trash Metal sound, considering their following album was called Crossover.

Spike Cassidy has developed some very nice leads and solos that will be an important key once the band has officially gone over to Metal. He has also created some very good riffs. I love the vocals of Kurt Brecht. Felix Griffin throws out some hellish beats on those skins. Mikey Offender bass lines really adds to the overall harmony to the music. Tracks 

What separates this album from the previous records is the song structures themselves. There is a good mixture of fast tempos and mid tempos where as the previous albums were super fast. Either way, this album is an important piece of Heavy Metal history. 

Track Listing:

1. “Snap” 1:10
2. “I’d Rather Be Sleeping” 1:12
3. “Marriage” 0:53
4. “Yes Ma’am” 1:56
5. “Soup Kitchen” 2:02
6. “Mad Man” 1:40
7. “Stupid, Stupid War” 0:26
8. “Counter Attack” 1:02
9. “Couch Slouch” 1:26
10. “God Is Broke” 1:07
11. “Karma” 2:16
12. “Nursing Home Blues” 3:50
13. “I Don’t Need Society” 1:36
14. “Give My Taxes Back” 0:56
15. “The Explorer” 1:36
16. “Reagonomics” 0:46
17. “How to Act” 1:10
18. “Shame” 1:09
19. “Argument Then War” 3:23
20. “Evil Minds” 0:55
21. “Slit My Wrist” 0:30
22. “Busted Again” 0:54
23. “Equal People” 0:51
24. “On My Way Home” 1:00
25. “Bail Out” 0:44