The Axiom was a pretty cool club, kinda dark and run down with a good rock n’ roll vibe, kinda reminded me of a club here in Portland called Satyricon. Cool thing that happened during Angkor Wat’s soundcheck was when Rob got up and sang Black Flag’s “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie”. I was able to record both bands sets from the soundboard that night. Before the first band went on, I was selling merch for both bands and these two super fans approached me who were heavily into anything death metal/grindcore and kept telling me that Cryptic Slaughter had to to play T.D.M.! (To Death Metal) First song (if you can call it that) on side 2 of Money Talks. At first I thought they were joking, but they were dead serious. At the end of each sentence they would give me a complementary Tom G Warrior death grunt, straight off of Morbid Tales. After giving them a few stickers to hopefully shut em’ up, they gave me a demo by NY’s Baphomet and an original copy of England’s Sore Throat demo. You can hear these guys yelling at the band in-between songs on the live songs that are on the “Convicted” and ” Money Talks” reissues on Relapse Records. Check out the cool live footage from this show on YouTube. I don’t remember anything about the opening band Afterbirth, who I assume were from Houston. Once again Angkor Wat put on an amazing energetic live set. Cryptic Slaughter took the stage and ripped into song after song from Convicted and Money Talks before playing a few new songs from Stream Of Consciousness (which went over great with the crowd, even the Death Metal duo liked em’.) After an encore or two the show was finally over. Never thought I would be so happy for a show to be over and to pack up our gear and leave. All of us were ecstatic that no one from Austin ever showed up. Time to catch up on some sleep before we head off for Memphis tomorrow.
This solid slab of “modern crossover thrash” tends more toward hardcore than 1980s thrash but shows the quirky influence of the three bands from which it draws members: DRI, Dead Horse and Verbal Abuse. Showing the evolution of metal since the 1980s, it has the tighter rhythms and more encompassing wall of guitars achieved with more precise tremolo.
In a nod to the NOLA music of the last two decades, it uses “riot vocals” where all band members chant and sing at once in infectious trope; from DRI it borrows the fluid rhythms and almost theatrical interruptions of song structure, but like later Dead Horse it tries to merge blues, rock, punk and metal into something more accessible. More like SOD than the original DRI, it features very much punk-influenced riffs that do not vary in shape or intensity as much, which makes for a more continuous listening experience. Vocal rhythms guide these songs which tend to be longer and more sociable in topic than the old thrash songs.
“P.N.D.” improves on the technical precision (or lack thereof) of older thrash, and by mixing in the death metal influences, makes this music hit more like a linebacker than a cynical kid zinging one-liners over the heads of the Responsible Authority Figures (RAFs) nearby. It’s good to hear Kurt Brecht when they let him do the vocal tracks alone, and he has lost none of his vitriol, but has more of a uniform delivery.
In fact, what makes this different from older punk and thrash the most is that it is more uniform in approach. Riffs are all strummed at the same speed and do not break for weirdness like DRI did. It’s hooky, with the melodic chants dominating the listener’s brain. The somewhat funky rock influence may turn off hardliners from the thrash days, but for listeners accustomed to newer hardcore, metal or swamp-groove metal this will be a powerhouse that may open their eyes to a wider world.
Like a glass-bottomed boat sailing over the submerged remains of an ancient city, this re-issue lets us voyeurs peer into the past of death metal. Master/Deathstrike/Abomination represented one wing of the early hybrids, sounding more like the aggressive uptempo hardcore of the early 1980s as crossed with the attitude that had been consisten in metal since its earliest days.
To wit: a straightforward absence of quirky changes, an emphasis on cadence instead of alternating syncopation, a historical view of the world that subsumed politics to a whole view of the human experience, and songs made by fitting riffs together in an internal dialogue that not only kept the song coherent but propelled it forward. These distinguish Death Strike as well, which packs them into punch songs of high-intensity fast tremolo punk riffs.
Our original review of this Death Strike masterpiece still stands. Like its associated band Master, Death Strike represents an early form of death metal that was nearly contemporaneous with Slayer-influenced bands like Sepultura and Possessed, as well as European-style proto-death/proto-black bands like Bathory, Hellhammer and Slayer. All of these re-interpreted punk hardcore in metal a different way than thrash (DRI) had done, and as a result, achieved a unique sound that was later highly influential to scenes as diverse as Sweden and New York.
The re-issue is beautiful. Quality pressing, good photos, elegant disc. The inclusion of demo tracks is always dubious, since you get more primitive versions of what you just heard, providing only academic interest; it’s better to release a historical issue like Immolation did. However, in this case, the rehearsal of “Pay to Die” is truly worth hearing to see how far this band came in the early 1980s.
Seeing this classic ride again in general availability is a sight for sore eyes for any true old school metal fan. If you want to know the origins of this music, pick up this CD and explore the first releases of the other bands mentioned above. While the know-nothing music press trumpets Venom, it’s good to see that contemporary acts were exploring other avenues for metal with the power of hardcore punk, and from this fertile ferment, death metal was born.