When popping this CD into your player three things will happen: one, you’ll grab for the jewel case just to make sure that this album wasn’t actually released back in 1986; two, you’ll start headbanging immediately; and three, after about 46 minutes you’ll hit the ‘repeat’ button. Then the cycle will start all over again. Just remember to have an oxygen tank nearby for the second round. Believe it.
OK so the NWOOTM (New Wave Of Old Thrash Metal) is in full swing, with new ‘old’ bands coming out of the woodwork at every corner it seems. Over the last year or so I’ve already had my ass kicked severely by the likes of SKELETONWITCH, OPPRESSION, MERCILESS DEATH, EVIL ARMY and now FUELED BY FIRE have just beaten me to within an inch of my sorry life. Musically there’s nothing original about FUELED BY FIRE but that all becomes moot once this album kicks into overdrive. This is a blistering tribute to the classic Thrash sound of the 80s (EXODUS in particular), that is with so much passion and intensity that it could bring a tear to your eye. Thrash til death? More like Thrash through death.
There is not a single dud track on this album and barring the slightly thin double-bass sound this album is everything a Thrash freak could ask for. It’s heavy, fast-as-fuck, energetic and just so Metal it’s not even funny. Yet despite its no-nonsense approach these guys have also carefully woven some very melodic solo sections into their music that strongly reminds me of classic METAL CHURCH. The instrumental opener, “Ernest Goes To Hell”, is a prime example of this melodic prowess, while “Striking Death” has “Bonded By Blood” written all over it. Yes, that’s a good thing. The bass-driven opening strains of the title track soon gives way to a barrage of speedy yet utterly catchy riffs (a la HEATHEN), while both “Betrayal” and “Metal Forever” are slightly slower songs where some clean singing is even to be found. I like the seedy parts a lot more but these occasional moments of restraint do add a haunting quality to proceedings, something the equally atmospheric solos certainly contribute to. But the absolute highlight of the album is without a doubt “Drams Of Terror”, a track so ridiculously intense that I laughed my ass off. Oh yeah, the gang-shouts are also excellent for this type of music.
Really, I could go on for days about these songs but that would be pointless. Suffice to say they ALL kicks massive amounts of ass, and I quite simply cannot see how any fan of Thrash could not go berserker over this album. No ‘core elements, no half-assed groove riffs – just pure Thrash Metal through and through. And with good riffs to boot. I’m also impressed that Metal Blade picked up this wild bunch since this is the kind of bands the label originally built their name on back in the day. Speaking of which, this copy is the re-release of “Spread The Fire!!” (originally released just last year), with two bonus tracks tagged onto the end, one of which is the thrashtastic “Chaotic Punishment”.
This album is actually an 8,5 in my book but I’m giving it top honors simply for being such a unrepentant throwback to the days of tight denims and high-top trainers.
The RIFF is alive and we must obey!
(Online September 2, 2007)