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Vio-Lence - Eternal Nightmare

1988 Mechanic Records/2005 Megaforce Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-09-21

There's probably not much I can say at this point, Vio-Lence's Eternal Nightmare pretty much understood as one of the quintessential Bay Area Thrash albums from the late 80s. Built on the foundation that Exodus had built, Vio-Lence took things up a notch, making an excellent thrash record that is chock full of energy featuring a multitude of riffs that are just hookier than hell. This was a sudden promise from a band that just never recovered after this, turning out some killer songs later (I Profit, Officer Nice) but never maintaining the consistency here. For every song rocks, and the entire albums ebbs and flows tempo-wise, but feels cohesive and never monotonous.

But what about all those negative reviews that slam the vocals?

OK, OK, I was getting to that... Vocalist Sean Killian writing is yes, much better than his delivery. Not a singer by any stretch, Sean instead has a whiny, spoken word style that just bugged the crap out of most people I knew at the time. For me it adds personality and I can get past it, actually preferring the style here and on Oppressing the Masses a LOT more than the later stuff. There are some spotty passages but the most part I think he writes some really interesting lyrics and like I said, there's personality there. In my naive youthful days, I thought that Robb Flynn had a lot to do with this, but evidently this was the Phil Demmel show back here, which may explain the consistency of the writing... So one possible weakness in the vocals, but that is small and the rest of the band are just monsters. Perry Strickland gaining mass accolades for his incredible drum fills that just go everywhere to stop right on time. Very fun, and very infectious to the point of hypnotized air drumming at every listen.

So the album rules, and in my humble opinion is essential for anyone remotely into thrash metal, which was a problem when this was out of print on CD... But not anymore, as Megaforce has recently released this as a double disc featuring the album along with a live show. Now I must have read this wrong somewhere because what I was expecting was a live DVD of Vio-Lence circa EN. What comes instead is a CD of live audio songs from 2001 with no Robb Flynn. OK, my error there, but the live tracks for me are spotty at best. The band can still play, and the sound quality is good (albeit a little compressed) but the aforementioned weak whiny vocals are even worse here, instead Killian sounding like he's got a ham sandwich in his mouth. Not good. But at regular price, these live traccks are gravy, the reissue being a remastered version of an impossible to find album. Does it sound remastered? I don't know. It's another one of these things that I would have to sit down and compare, as it just sounds a little louder... And my last beef? Whoever decided to make the cover art "cool" by giving it a worn appearance, that was a bad idea. The original cover art is godly, and I was not happy to see this new "archaic" version. Oh well. Minor complaints as the album still rules start to finish and is worth the purchase.