Make no mistake; although JOIN THE DEAD may be a new name to most ears, the musicians involved have been around the block before. To elaborate, bassist Tim Kronyak and Mike Phillips were both part of the West Coast 80ís Thrash band DELIVERANCE. Joining them is vocalist Paul White and a decent drum machine. JOIN THE DEADís first EP sports some excellent musicianship and impressive production standards, yet something glaring feels missing. Despite the admirable execution, JOIN THE DEADís flat style feels bland. Itís a plenty derivative Thrash excursion, but there are still moments here that get the blood flowing.
Although Iíve never heard much of DELIVERANCE, itís never been a question that Kronyak and Phillips can slay at their respective instruments. Phillips in particular rules the show; his riffs here rival many Thrashers both classic and modern. In stylistic terms, JOIN THE DEAD sound like an amalgamation of the Big 4 of Thrash. There are the rapidfire bursts of SLAYER, but these are tempered by the more mid-paced sections you might hear in something by Megadeth or even METALLICA when they were still good. Phillips takes up both rhythm and lead roles on the EP, and executes both with excellence. Although the solos rarely amount to much more than a matter of shred, JOIN THE DEAD are clever enough to keep the soloing short and sweet. Although JOIN THE DEAD donít enjoy any particular Ďstandoutí riffs on the EP, rest assured that the guitar parts will be what will keep you listening.
Tim Kronyak is evidently a strong bassist judging by the few times he is given the spotlight, but thereís the feeling that he should have been given more of a presence, both in regards to the lead guitar-driven compositions and mixing. Strong riffs aside, ďJOIN THE DEADĒ can sometimes feel like a man shredding away to a drum machine. The music is always busy, but it may have helped JOIN THE DEAD to allow an extra element in their music. As it is, their sound feels rather plain, even by Thrash standards. The production is kept fairly clean, and though itís difficult not to be impressed by Phillipsí axe wizardry, ďJOIN THE DEADĒ ultimately feels a little too bland to appeal to many outside of the Thrash fanbase.
Vocally, Paul White introduces himself sounding like a gruffer-sounding James Hetfield, and ultimately comes across as a less aggressive Tom Araya. Occasionally- and particularly in and around the chorus sections- Paul will unleash a Ďgang vocalí of sorts, giving JOIN THE DEAD a hint of crossover in their sound. Like the drum machine, White offers a functional Thrash Metal vocal performance, but Iím left feeling like there isnít anything that really sets them apart from the other hordes. Although I try to keep open minded about any lyrical content, it should be mentioned that JOIN THE DEAD make their Christian sentiments overt to the extreme, almost to the extent where their lyrics treat God as the sort of badass that some black Metallers proclaim Satan to be. I guess itís interesting to hear the tables turned in that sense, but I canít help but feel JOIN THE DEADís Ďin your faceí approach to Christianity comes off as preachy.
Overall, itís a decently composed and excellently performed EP, but at the end of the day, JOIN THE DEAD lack the extremity or ambitious scope to stand out from the crowd. Then again, itís quite possibly that the whole idea to begin with was to create a good old Thrash experience.
(Online September 26, 2012)