Having just had my ass kicked into next week for the umpteenth time by MEGADETH’s “Endgame”, and with the wait for HEATHEN’s new album itself dragging on for another week, I decided to sit down with WHIPLASH’s “Unborn Again”, the reformed thrashers’ first album of new material in about 11 years. The results of these reunions have been hit or miss as of late, with ARTILLERY’s “When Death Comes” being stellar (if unspectacular) and LÄÄZ ROCKIT’s “Left For Dead” being an insipid Groove-riddled train smash. Would WHIPLASH follow in Dave Mustaine’s footsteps and deliver the goods?
Well, not quite, but at least “Unborn Again” is a stronger effort than what some other 80s Thrash bands have been peddling as of late. If the band had written an album along the lines of “Power And Pain” or “Ticket To Mayhem” I would be singing its praises from the hilltops, as the vibrant, upbeat ANTHRAX-y Thrash of those albums still pack quite a punch after all these years. That’s not to say that “Unborn Again” doesn’t Thrash when need be – it does – but on the whole the album relies a bit too much on Rock and a groovy Punk approach to count as anything more than a decent half-Thrash album. That being said, there are more than a handful of enjoyable songs to be found here. The opener, “Swallow The Slaughter”, is perhaps the strongest cut on here, driven forward by a chunky mid-paced riff and a strangely melancholy sounding chorus that fits Tony Portaro’s trademark vocals very well. Elsewhere, “Fight Or Flight” sees the band mixing a moody (albeit Punk sounding) main riff with effective slower gang-shout driven sections, while “Parade Of Two Legs” is a damn fine instrumental laced with a good dose of whammy bar solos and kick-drum flurries. The MONTROSE cover (“I’ve Got The Fire”) is also pretty cool, as its Rock ‘n Roll vibe meshes well with the band’s style.
The band sounds quite comfortable as a unit, Tony Portaro’s vocals have held up relatively well, and the production is good (allowing the bass to shine through in more than one spot). On the whole the band managed a solid album but there are occasional missteps that prevent it from being anything more. I can mention the bizarre tribal-flavoured “Firewater” and the plain boring “Hook In Mouth” as the chief offenders here, but luckily there are great songs like “Swallow The Slaughter”, the to-the-point “Snuff” and “Fight Or Flight” to keep the overall consistency intact. The Ed Repka cover art is also cool (though perhaps a little tacky), incorporating elements from their early albums.
(Online October 17, 2009)