Review by Rick Ossian
It’s not often, at least in this reviewer’s experience, that you find a metal ‘concept’ album. Normally I would be very hesitant to claim that there was even a vague thematic idea throughout one metal record. That being said, here it is. All of the grief and the bad economy and the politics of the day, wrapped up in 10 tracks of powerful, vitriolic ranting and raving, amidst some seriously bad-ass metal. There are some minimal sound FX here as well; a bit of spoken word (Pandemic Genocide), some moaning (She’s On Fire), and a bit of growling amidst the vocals, but not to the point of redundancy. Fans of Anthrax may be delighted to hear the vocals of Brian O’Connor (formerly of Consfearacy and Vicious Rumours), as his delivery bears more than a passing resemblance to Joey Belladonna. In fact, some of you Anthrax heads may do the occasional double-take on some tracks.
There is some really blazing guitar here as well, particularly on the opening track mentioned above. The title track may bring to mind the big bank bail-outs (It’s where the crows fly high/And the vultures watch you die), the constant crapping upon the middle class, and a horrible economy in general. It won’t be the last time, as there are stabs at the establishment throughout this disc. As normally happens, the ‘middle class rises and rebels, particularly in Ground and Pound (You won’t break me/I’ll take you down/I’ll smash your face/Ground and pound), ultimately threatening the 1%’ers with TERMINATION. In ‘The Final Solution‘, which is war, as you might have imagined, things go downhill fast (There’s nothing we won’t do/We are the red, white and blue/You know that U.S. forces take no shit/We come well-equipped). The shit indeed hits the fan, as they say, and the tune opens and closes with some deadly guitar runs. Suddenly I feel bad about being a Yank.
As in most damned societies, the citizens turn to drugs and prostitution (She’s On Fire), amongst other things. The government aspires to “aspyhxiate the masses (with greed)”, in a world gone horribly wrong. Some hindsight is observed in ‘Path We’ve Chosen‘ (This is the end/Of all we know/May God have mercy on our souls). There’s even ‘Hellfire from above‘, and ‘the Death Star has come for us! I love the rhyme scheme in ‘Gone Wrong‘ – it involves revolutions, solutions and retribution; all things we need to be aware of in an apocalyptic scenario such as this. Sad to say, most of it hits pretty close to home. Reader(s) be forewarned – we are screwed.
Things take an even more grisly turn towards the end, especially in ‘Legions of the Damned‘, wherein ‘the living dead arise’ and instigate the ‘harvest of mankind’. “Out of the darkness the demons release. We are informed that hellraisers, invaders, death-raiders and soul-takers are among us. Sounds like the recent spate of zombie movies and television programmes has found its way into the Deadlands psyche. And no small wonder, either, as when the world falls apart, the Bible tells us, the dead rise from their graves. Apocalyptic indeed.
As per the norm, one individual tries to repent in the end; but, alas, it is too late. In ‘Shed My Skin‘, our hero laments ‘I’m gonna kick tomorrow/But tomorrow never came/My good intentions were hollow/It didn’t have to be this way. Perhaps we should heed this warning, but in the meantime, enjoy the tunes. Slamming, raging metal from beginning to end. The bass (Steve ‘Dedbass’ Northam ) is fantastic, as are the drums (Danny Sablan of HateFX and the Council), and the lead guitar work (Michael J.Gardner, formerly of the Council and Kevin Rohr from Spectre) is supplemented by a set of special guests (Hank Shermann and Michael Denner of Mercyful Fate/King Diamond Fame), who contribute ‘brutal’ leads to The Final Solution. There are a veritable myriad of guests throughout, in fact, from such varied acts as Dragonlord, Forbidden, Testament, and Nevermore. Artwork, appropriately enough, from Erik Zombie. If you are a fan of hard rock/heavy metal, do yourself a favor and go out and get this A.S.A.P. You won’t regret it! Also visit their Facebook page and their website for a free download!