Japanese Metallers OUTRAGE deliver their first new material since 2004 with this self-titled release, providing solid, though derivative, old-school Thrash. Being heretofore unfamiliar with this band (embarrassing, given that their first EP was released in 1987 during Thrash’s Golden Age), I was surprised by the extent to which the material is rooted in both Bay Area Thrash and Southern Groove, belying the band’s Japan origin. Had I not known any better, I would have sworn that the band were from the U.S.
There is not much here that is new or innovative. OUTRAGE clearly have an affinity for older METALLICA and MEGADETH, as well as for the southern sounds of PANTERA, and these bands can be used as reliable points of reference for fans unfamiliar with this group. The songs are collectively equal parts old-school Speed Thrash and heavy, simmering Groove Metal. The riffs are all quite good, and instantly call to mind some of the best efforts of the aforementioned influences. “Terrorizer” is perhaps the most derivative of the tracks here, with its straight-on Bay Area riffing and a vocal attack that sounds more than a little like James Hetfield.
Yet, particularly in the case of Thrash, derivative does not equal bad. The skill with which OUTRAGE have written tight songs and delivered performances that are quite musical make this a solid release. Vocalist Naoki Hashimoto deserves recognition for the strength of his performance. He delivers a solid tenor, with just a bit of scratchiness, providing great melody with the right amount of grit to make this ever-so-subtly menacing. It is his voice that gives the music its foundation in a more southern U.S. sound, and infuses a bit of Blues sensibility into a powerful extreme Metal framework. This, combined with tight rhythms, powerful riffing, and an attitude that is equal parts “fuck you” and righteous indignation, ensure that the sound adheres to the most important of Thrash conventions.
Japan never ceases to amaze. A land characterized by outward homogeneity, and whose musical landscape is largely dominated by sugary J-Pop, produces some pretty kick-ass bands. OUTRAGE can consider themselves within that company.
(Online May 26, 2011)