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Class 6(66)

Slaughter: Strappado

30/01/12  ||  Habakuk

Introduction

As it is with so many old school bands, you actually discover them by listening to cover songs by today’s more established acts. This happened with From beyond as well as with “Strappado” in my case. A Napalm Death cover of “The incinerator” did the trick. And the mentioning of a cover song actually has kind of point here, because this is one of these albums whose importance for today is not so much in the great songs we can still discover, but in the spirit on display, which goes a long way beyond writing a memorable tune or two. I reckon Slaughter is one of the bands (beside Razor, probably) that Darkthrone’s homage “Canadian Metal” is referring to: those who did fuck-all but go out there and slaughter.

Songwriting

Not sure what kind of energy drinks Canada had in ’87 (I reckon we had none in Germany. Certainly not in my baby bottle.), but whatever equivalent there was, these guys shoved it down their throats in spades. The speed level most prevalent is one of Repulsion-like “Let’s thrash! FASTER!!” proceedings in songs that of course stay under 2 minutes. The riffs flow well due to their simplicity, and they still work in great, groovier half-time parts or whole songs even (“The Incinerator”), but once we hit the closer “Tales of the macabre”, it becomes apparent that there isn’t too much behind it all. That closer is supposed to be a stomper of sorts, but fails utterly because the slow tempo exposes the weaknesses clouded so well by a constant “filth-with-drums” barrage: The riffs just aren’t that great after all. The songs each work as a complete high speed unit only. In those, the different elements are of course combined at times, but most of the album’s songs can generally be dumped into one of three tempo buckets. And the “really fast” bucket is the biggest and best. Cool. 8

Production

I won’t call it “good”, which would be a little misleading, but it certainly works. Again my reference point will be Repulsion, which went a little further in terms of filth and grit. The guitars on “Strappado” are a comparable mudscraping mess, but the fuzz bass is a bit more reserved and the drums have definitely received more attention in terms of making them sound like a studio recording as opposed to cutlery and cardboard. For those who haven’t listened to Repulsion, … what do you mean you haven’t? Listen to Repulsion, goddammit. 7

Guitars

Dave Hewson might have had a strange case of Parkinson’s, as only his picking hand just can’t fucken stop moving. The avid listener is hence pleased by constant simplistic shredding whose only problem is (after a while, mind you) the lack of movement in the fretboard hand. It really is an all-in one-directional performance, which leaves a taste of early Death in my mouth. [I said mouth >> Insert penis joke here]. Taken for what it is, it’s absolutely great, but I can see why people would shun it as a bit uncreative. Doesn’t bother me too much, though. 2-note riffs are ace. 7.5

Vocals

It sounds like two different singers for a few songs, but I’m not too sure. Anyway, we get a raspy thrash singer as well as hysterical yapping with some moments of brilliance (“WAAAAAAAAAAAAOOORR”, “YEAAAAAaaaaaaaa!”, “STRAPPAADOOOO!”) interspersed. It’s certainly nested nicely in the surrounding soundscape, so despite its “extremeness” at times it’s not annoying or irritating. Nope, it’s actually quite good. 8

Bass

Rarely does it really shine through thanks to the distorted nature of its sound, but the overall filth of the album is owed a great deal to having a wooly low end. 7

Drums

A very fluent performance that shows that the Ron Summers certainly knew what he was doing in terms of double bass use, super fast thrashing and groovy half time beats. There really isn’t much more to it, but what he does, he definitely does well. Being super fast was seemingly especially high on the band’s agenda, so they were well off having a fit drummer in that respect. 8

Lyrics

I have the re-release which comes with bonus live tracks. These show that around the time these guys recorded “Strappado”, it was obviously still cool to count in to a song like “one, two, one two fuck YOUUUUU!” – yeah, that stage of metal development which some people still haven’t overcome. Fits well with the overall juvenile album feeling of “That’s provocative, eh? Talking aboot violence like it’s a cool thing”. Song titles like “Maim to please”, “Nocturnal Hell” or “F.O.D. (Fuck of death)” should really tell you enough. Then again, the lyrics here don’t really matter to me, so whatever. 5

Cover art

I reckon these catacombish skeletons busy themselves in setting up a STRAPPADOOOO!!! for one of their fellow brethren. Can’t make it out clearly though. What sense does torturing an already dead skeleton make? Metal sense. 8

Logo

The red ‘n’ white gives this an Iron Maiden touch, but that’s probably also simply due to the use of a legible font. Dig the inverted cross T and general coherence. I’d say this is quite a good logo. 9

Booklet

I’m in the (not so) proud possession of a Metal Mind re-release, which is one of those shitty cardboard digipaks, but the booklet features a rather well-informed (and obviously well-spirited) two page review of this album plus lyrics. Also some short liner notes can be found on the inside of the cardboard case. In the end nothing to write home about, but definitely above decent for a re-release. 7

Overall and ending rant

The way metal has progressed since this came out, I can hardly claim this is a mandatory listen for everyone. It’s not. Repulsion is, as you know. However, to those like me who would probably still be happy if metal had ended in 1994, I’d still highly recommend this. The recording has received enough attention to be absolutely listenable for today’s spoiled ears. It’s punk-rooted, displays just the right amount of youth energy in its attempts to push the boundaries, and generally follows the agenda of being “extreme”, whatever that meant 25 years ago. All bonus points on my scoreboard, which after a short calculation displays a:

7.5

  • Information
  • Released: 1987
  • Label: Diabolic Force
  • Website: Slaughter MySpace
  • Band
  • Dave Hewson: vocals, guitar
  • Terry Sadler: bass, vocals
  • Ron Summers: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Strappado
  • 02. The curse
  • 03. Disintegrator
  • 04. Incinerator
  • 05. Parasites
  • 06. F.O.D. (Fuck of death)
  • 07. Tortured souls
  • 08. Nocturnal hell
  • 09. Tales of the macabre