Record Swap: Deuce Vs. Simon Phoenix
Today’s edition of Record Swap has two staunch genre-writers squaring off. Thrash-maven Simon Phoenix is taking on grind-maniac Ron Deuce. Who will triumph? Will anyone survive? Find out, on this episode of Record Swap.
Simon Phoenix’s Assignment: Fall Silent – Drunken Violence (2002)
When I was paired with our resident thrash aficionado for this record swap, the first thing that came to mind was Fall Silent’s 2002 swan song, Drunken Violence. I was almost certain Simon was unaware of its existence because Fall Silent’s popularity was within the hardcore scene and not very well known in metal circles. That being said, Fall Silent’s music is predominately of the thrash variety, and I’d be willing to bet he’d enjoy this because there’s plenty more Exodus and Vio-Lence in their sound than the flat brim, mesh shorts wearing, mosh extravaganza that is widely associated with a vast majority of acts that are popular with hardcore fans. This is a fun record that a lover of thrash should enjoy, so if Simon doesn’t like it, he’s going to be fined 100 credits for violating Thrash Morality Code 66-6. — Ron Deuce
Why in the fuck am I even doing this? I run a very tight ship at my headquarters, and one of the rules is no wiener music is allowed. This Record Swap is obviously a ploy to get me to listen to some wiener music. When the powers that be at the Toilet told me that it was near my turn to do one, I was wary. But lo, I got Ron Deuce. He loves grind and powerviolence, so that’s fine at least. I haven’t listened to much of either genre in years, but I used to bump the shit out of Spazz and The Endless Blockade back in the day. Maybe this won’t be so bad.
I slowly sharpen my kukris, drink some rum in tribute to the great Ogoun, and click on the YouTube link. That band name and album cover leads me to believe that I’m going to listen to some brotastic metalcore band, like the types I would see opening for bigger bands at La’Mours or The LimeLight when I was first starting out going to shows, always telling people in the pit to fuck shit up before their long mandatory breakdowns. I’ve had to stomp out more than a couple of tough guys in those days. Ah memories.
Anyway, Typical Trustkill album intro; fade in riff, voices whispering. Probably about how much they hate their exes. A piercing scream, leading into a groove. Yawn. But in comes track two and out of nowhere, a fast palm muted riff, and it’s full speed ahead. Imagine my surprise at the blatantly thrash riffs pouring out of the speakers. This is some sorcery, it is. But the vocals come in and the mood is dampened. You know all those metalcore vocalists in the early to mid 2000s who thought that sounding like Roger Miret or Rick Rodney was the coolest thing ever? Well this guy clearly read that instruction manual and thought “Hey how about I take that vocal style and make it even MORE hoarse sounding and ear-raping”. It takes me a minute of trying to get past his awful shouting to notice the admittedly well done groove that closes out the song. Fuck me, but do I have to listen to that guy the WHOLE album? Then I thought, I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of whiny high pitched thrash vocalists so I shouldn’t complain so much. Ugh, FINE THEN.
The rest of the album seems to follow suit, alternating between well placed semi thrash riffs and very Snapcase-esque breakdowns with this teenage wanker shouting all along the way. I concentrate, and tune dude’s shouting out of my head, otherwise I would have had to disembowel somebody. After doing that though the rest of this listening session is easy as rat pudding.
Matter of fact, you know what band this record reminds me of? Himsa. They were another metalcore band around the early to mid 2000s that incorporated a lot of thrash (and in their case a bit of melodeath) into their sound. And in my opinion they achieved a more pleasant hybrid of the genres than more well known thrash influenced metalcore bands like A Perfect Murder or Shadows Fall, or even one of the current kings of groove metal, Machine Head. This record is bringing back a lot of memories of their third and final album Summon in Thunder, which in my opinion is better than nearly everything Rob Flynn made after he left Vio-lence. Though this album is nowhere near as good as Himsa. For one thing their vocalist wasn’t some Carl’s Jr. eating dudebro who sounds like he got his nuts stepped on by one of the overly tatted groupie chicks he tried to slip a roofie to. And before one of you fuckers try to counter comment that Himsa are pure thrash; they’re not. Listen to their first two EPs and then have a nice healthy glass of shut the fuck up.
Back on topic, once I get to the eighth track I hear a familiar chord. NO. They did NOT just try to fucking cover Barracuda. It may surprise you wieners to know this, but I am quite a fan of Heart. I fully expect to toss a table at my underling out of anger for the sheer awful concept of a metalcore band trying to cover a duo that most folks deemed “the female Zeppelin“. However the table throwing will have to wait as the cover is not all that bad, though they did feel the need to put in a pointless breakdown in place of the kickass closing riff of the original. After that, another groovy song and the outro which is a reprise of the intro; a looping riff and chaotic noise that slowly fades into the void.
So my consensus? Well, metalcore and I have not gotten along much, even when it was the main form of metal that I listened to before digging even deeper. But there were decent bands whose CDs I could still pull out and bump to this day. Maybe this band would’ve been one of them. I don’t know of the rest of their discography, but this album makes me curious to listen to the rest of the material. Though I imagine the vocalist probably sounds even worse. Ugh. But still this was a nice little refresher from the thousands of fourth-rate thrash bands that send me their demos daily to write about. I was in a bad mood today and was probably going to bludgeon to death this banker I’m holding in my basement after sitting through this thing. Which is bad cause I don’t have the codes to his vaults yet. This album is decent enough that he gets to live a few hours longer; he should thank Ron for that probably. Overall this album gets a pass from this maniac. — Simon Phoenix
Ron Deuce’s Assignment: Aggression – The Full Treatment (1987)
My first Record Swap. Where someone tells me to listen to a beloved record of theirs, and I make them do the same with one of my beloved records, and then we review them. I first thought to be a dick and go super obscure for my (un)willing partner. But due to my not having written anything major for the Toilet in some time, and a need for people to actually pay attention to the contents of this article, I decided to pick out an easy band for Mr. Deuce.
Aggression are a thrash band from Quebec. Formed in 1985 by Denis “Sasquatch” Barthe and Bernard “Burn” Cauldron, they carved a name for themselves among the very cluttered Canadian metal community. Thrash heads already know this, but Canada has a very underrated thrash scene, where the quality of the bands are every bit as high as that of the US West Coast, Germany and Brazil, but far more low key. You already know about bands like Razor, Annihilator, and Voivod. But what about other bands like Infernal Majesty, Voor, and Deranged? Out of this hidden treasure trove of bands, Aggression are probably my favorite (along with Witches Hammer. But that’s a band for another time.). You think Razor are fast? Well they are, and don’t you forget it, but that’s not my point, you fucking wiener. You haven’t heard the likes of speed and savagery until you hear songs like “Frozen Survival” or “Green Goblin”. Many people who I have played their material for almost confused them for a crust punk band. And they have a song called Demolition; how can I not love these guys? And they bring it just as hard live as they do on record. Even with a reduced lineup (one guitarist instead of two), they tore shit up when I saw them at The Defenders of the Old Fest last year.
Given Ron’s love for hardcore and grind, I deduced (heh) that they would be the perfect band for him to listen to and absorb. Aggression have two full-lengths, two demos, and last year released an EP. Considering that the second full-length, Forgotten Skeleton, is just a previously un-released re-recording of the first, I thought it best for Ron to just listen to the first, which is called The Full Treatment. The production is far more raw, and in my opinion suits the songs far better, which I feel fits the ascetics for his love for grind and powerviolence far better. Happy listening. –Simon Phoenix
It has been a while since I’ve listened to any thrash metal, and it came as no surprise that Simon would send some stylings from his favorite genre my way. Before even clicking play, the title of the video indicates that this album by Canadian thrash band Aggression was released in 1987. With as much music as I listen to, there’s very little metal from the 80’s in my catalog. Without hearing a single note of this, I’m already judging the cover art and wondering why a leprechaun witch version of Howard Stern is blowing up a local power plant.
The first thing that jumps out at you with The Full Treatment is how loud the bass guitar is in the mix. The way it clanks around against everything else is distracting at first, but after about three tracks in your eardrums adjust. The recording is very raw, and the guitar tone is paper thin. At times, it sounds like the guitars have a flange sound effect on them. About a quarter way through the first listen, I turned up the volume so I could get a better read on Aggression’s style. There’s no shortage of guitar shreddery here, whether it’s the fast paced riffing or the dual guitar solos that are littered throughout the forty-seven minute runtime. The drumming performs in lockstep with the guitars and bass to keep the hostility intact. Fans of the style explored by Sepultura on Schizophrenia would most certainly eat this up I suspect. There’s even some old school breakdowns here and there to occasionally break things up.
The vocals remind me of Thrash Or Die’s vocal delivery, only they are more restrained as opposed to the over top snarling delivery. Other times, there’re shades of older Suicidal Tendencies in the vocals, and they fit perfectly on tracks that like “By The Reaping Hook”. Some of the vocal lines such as “demolition of your face” and “dripping flesh” or “Do you want some candy little boy?” at the beginning of “Green Goblin” made me chuckle. It may not’ve been intended to do that, but I have a twisted sense of humor and find these little nuances amusing when it comes to thrash. During much of the faster sections, the vocals sound like they are huffing and puffing to keep up with the frantic pace of the music that accompanies it.
Given the era this was released in, it’s easy for a band like Aggression to get lost and go unheard without the benefit of a decent label’s promotion. These guys surely would’ve been welcome alongside the ranks of Anthrax, Exodus, and Suicidal Tendencies back in the day. For all I know, they may very well have shared the stage together when they were active. As far as my enjoyment is concerned, the production is probably the thing that killed it for me. Since I’m well aware that this was released in 1987, it’s hard to fault the band for not having the resources available to them in order to measure up with the sound quality of the bigger names in the genre. I really wonder what this would sound like with a fresh coat of paint on it. Simon is probably now going to fine me 100 credits for violating Thrash Morality Code 66-6 in this review. –Ron Deuce
What did we learn today? I’d like to think that 80s Thrash fans and early-2000s hardcore bros can get along. And now you know the rest of the story.