Gammacide: Victims of science
09/07/12 || Habakuk
Pencils out! Overlooked classics time. I have never read or heard anyone saying anything about this band. Ever. Until it came down to my Melbournian main man and now writing-wise defunct double dad revenant to haphazardly drop a line on this beastly disc. Eager to remedy an unbearable state of affairs like the one described in sentence two, I am only too happy to pass on this knowledge bestowed ‘pon me and cement it into the Class6(66) section.
8.5. These guys are one of the few outfits that truly warrant the “brutal thrash” tag – their music is fast, relentlessly pounding yet still remains somewhat decipherable. Deeply rooted in thrash, these guys do have some death metal influences (blastbeats!), but the overall feel of the disc is that of an engaging and really, really heavy thrash record. The band show a pretty fundamentalist approach that takes its influence mainly from metal itself, with practically no punk leftovers apart from the lyrical themes at best. Sure, this isn’t the most innovative disc, but their special blend of thrash is still quite unique – I know because I certainly would like to hear more of it, but hardly find anything. Apart from (of course) Demolition Hammer. What Gammacide certainly have down to a T however is embedding super-catchy thrash and groove breaks into the overall speedfest this album forms, which hinders it from becoming too much of a blur. Who knows what they might have developed to, but with this being their only full-length offering, it doesn’t really matter.
7.5 Most parts of the production are ace, such as the thumpy bass, sawing guitars and the balancing of the vocals, yet I can’t help it: The drums should be even more prominent – just for this very disc. The album’s sound would profit endlessly. Right now they are at normal, maybe even high levels, which is okay. Still, a bit more low-end couldn’t hurt, especially (surprise) for the kicks. Not under normal circumstances (= almost any other album), but with this particular sound, I would just have wanted them to be a little more like on Epidemic of Violence: up front and punchy as hell.
9. I don’t have to tell you that a thrash albums needs riffs aplenty and played fast to succeed. Both things are ensured by Sirs Perry and Shelby, who have a great guitar tone to boot. Shredding, soloing, catchy riffing and all you could ask for works like a charm. If you are okay with an album sacrificing hooks for MOAR RIFFS, you will certainly find this delightful, as they are arranged superbly. Sure, there is a tendency towards sameness, but you could also call that consistency. I, for one, could see myself stomping circles through town when “Chemical Imbalance” or “Walking Plague” start breaking shit down.
7.5. Anyone remember what killed Vio-Lence? Cor-rect, Sean Killian, who is found fittingly high on the list I linked there. Yeah, this paragraph will take a positive turn, don’t worry. Mr. Ponville of Gammacide manages to transport Killian’s pissed-off vibe (not the terrible, nasal wailing!) that comes with being a bit removed from the musical base, but manages to actually sound good – Not great, but good. His sound is clearly intelligible, raspy and angry, and those are among the most important things you need from a thrash band’s vocal department. Another thing would be gang shouts, but they’re unfortunately lacking here.
8.5. Surprisingly audible for the time and genre, and definitely adding to the heavy vibe of the songs without popping out too much like a retarded “me too” kid. Brian Pho’s heavy string thumping lends a great notion of emphasis where needed and otherwise follows along discretely with the odd accentuation here and there. An absolutely great job, front to back.
8.5. Blast from the past! Get it? There are blast beats on this thrash album from 1989 EXCLAMATION MARK. And with Jamey Milford there is actually a fast, skilled and energetic drummer behind the kit that shouldn’t be reduced to a little cross-pollination from the death metal camp. The guy leads the band through thick and thin from frantic speed to stomping groove and back, and keeps a varied style throughout. A really good performance – and we all know just how important that is for a good thrash recording: Important.
7. “Victims of science” – the title sums it up well. This is all about human technology decimating humanity. Classic late-eighties stuff, pulling at the seams of the more “serious” Nuclear Assault themes without presenting anything new, or anything resembling constructive criticism. Fair enough, it’s metal after all.
7. Not a fan of photographed covers, I still find this one manages to be sort of cool with the gasmasked soldiers dumping / unearthing / perceiving the Gammacide barrel in their postapocalyptic world of red skies and greenish-yellow rock ground. This is probably the closest a photograph has ever come to an Ed Repka painting.
4. If you handed this in for a design class, you’d be thrown out faster than you can say “typewriter”. Is that even a logo? Still, the font works, and the color is toxic green, so they get away with an only below average score for lack of creativity.
n/a. Eaten away by acid sludge together with all traces of the physical copy I’d had lying around since the very day of the album’s first press release. A real shame.
Overall and ending rant
This is a pretty one-dimensional album, but that happens to be my dimension. Classic thrash lovers, prick up your ears.
- Released: 1989
- Label: Wild Rags Records
- Website: Gammacide MySpace
- Varnam Ponville: vocals
- Rick Perry: guitars
- Scott Shelby: guitars
- Brian Pho: bass
- Jamey Milford: drums
- 01. Endangered species
- 02. Fossilized
- 03. Shock treatment
- 04. Gutter rats
- 05. Walking plague
- 06. Chemical imbalance
- 07. Incubus
- 08. Observations