Wargasm: Why play around?
18/09/12 || Habakuk
It is impossible to run out of great old school thrash. Im-possible. The eighties and nineties shat out so much good stuff in the genre, you could probably spend the rest of your life preying the internet for more goodness from the era and would never have to spend an evening without a good slab of meaty thrash over the fireplace. Today’s catch: Wargasm. Nope, not the computer game. These guys do not play around, mind you. In their rather rare (for the genre) three-piece setup, these Bostoners made sure to deliver the thrash goods in full supply instead.
The 43 minutes of playing time on this album are chock full with badass material, sporting great tempo changes that break up the general high speed feel nicely, and the guys do not seem to run out of ideas either. That’s also the only explanation I have for the inclusion of two absolute stinkers, namely “Le cou cou” (!!!!!!!), an instrumental Claude Louise Dauquin cover. Yeah exactly, who? It’s completely pointless and only surpassed by “Merritt’s girlfriend” – imagine that “Mommieee,…. where’s Fluffy???” sound bit from Metallica’s ”Garage Inc.” stretched to 40 seconds. Yep, that is what you call unnecessary. So, detract those 3 minutes combined, and what we are left with is 40 minutes of full-on thrashing with interesting riffing and high versatility. The fact that one can even get through the 9 minute title track (although it’s close to being too lengthy) in repeated listens speaks for the quality of the whole thing, and with an average length of around 5 minutes, rest assured you won’t get into any kind of “is it over yet?” situation on this album. 8.5.
8. Finally a production that doesn’t sound like any other thrash knob job you’ve heard. It ain’t especially “out there”, but it holds up very well. The album’s sound is thick despite a lack of focus on the bass. Especially the drums have a pretty full sound with a fat snare punch that definitely serves the album well, and the guitar with its tight, low-reverb sound and a sick sawing tone is what makes this sound awesome.
9. And not only does it sound good, it is played exceptionally well. Rich Spillberg just shreds one killer riff after another and knows how to play a decent solo as well. This is thrash playing as it should be – always with the pedal to the floor, yet with an awesome sense of control, a very slight melodic touch and of course technical perfection. Seriously, it is almost moot to recommend single riffs, as virtually every song sports one at one place or another, but in order to give you a starting point, I’ll just go out and say “Humanoid” with its absolutely bad-ass, fists-in-the-air half time break takes the cake. This guy absolutely knew what he as doing and his riffs alone warrant to check this out.
7.5. Like any good sauce, Bob Mayo tops off Wargasm’s plate in tasty fashion. Well, I don’t really like Mayonnaise, but the argument stands. His medium-to-high pitched sneering tone is well adjusted with the musical background and blends in nicely, giving a fine topping to the riffs served by Rich Spillberg, and – this is not to be underestimated – he also simply shuts up from time to time as well to let the riffs rip. I guess it was a good thing he also played bass and hence didn’t suffer from an inferiority complex…
… although bass guitar on “Why play around” really isn’t anything to write home about. “Dear Mum, I wanted to write you about Bob Mayo in Wargasm. All he ever does is follow the riffs and when he strays just a little bit, you can hardly hear it because he is mixed rather low! His sound wouldn’t be that bad, but somehow they’d rather have him in the back and accentuate the shiny six-strings. Love, …” Nah, scratch that. “Dear Mum, I’m fine. the weather is nice and the beach is beautiful.” That’s much better. 6.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you drum on a thrash album. Incredibly tight, fast and with a knack for the right fill at the right time, Mr Barry Spillberg (brothers!!) is more than just a solid backbone to the music, although he doesn’t exactly push himself into the center of attention either. When observed closely, his great snare work, adept use of double bass and seamless transitions however are a big factor in this album’s overall quality. It just flows and flows and flows, and mostly so at high speed. 8.
Killing, insanity, cyborgs, nuclear war. What’s not to like? 7.
If this is supposed to be a reminiscence to the Joker, it’s absolutely terrible. If it isn’t, well, then it’s also terrible. What exactly is the story here – the sad clown spraypainted the wall and was then bound to a tree? The sad clown was baseball batted, bound to a tree and someone else spraypainted the wall? The sad clown’s new no look baseball bat / spray paint / rope trick went horribly wrong? Help me out here. All I know is it looks pretty damn stupid. 3.
Is that supposed to be … – noooo. That’s what the result of a Wargasm looks like? No no, let’s just say it’s white paint. And that’s not a very metal way to design your logo. It looks more punk than metal, really, and that’s very misleading. 5.
n/a. What can I say, I don’t exactly have it…
Overall and ending rant
You don’t read the name Wargasm much, even if you look for info on thrash. This album thus shares a common fate with the works of Accu§er, Gammacide, Devastation and many more that have been largely forgotten for no apparent reason in terms of their quality. People are apparently more into discussing that Sepultura with Max was so much better or debating if Metallica are going to make a thrash comeback with their next one. Way to go folks, but count me out. You can find me in the thrash quarry, digging deeper to find more old thrash that’s actually good. Just like “Why play around?”.
- Released: 1988
- Label: Profile Records
- Website: Wargasm MySpace
- Bob Mayo: bass, vocals
- Rich Spillberg: guitars
- Barry Spillberg: drums
- 01. Wasteland
- 02. Revenge
- 03. Bullets & blades
- 04. Undead
- 05. Merritt’s girlfriend
- 06. Sudden death
- 07. Wargasm
- 08. Le cou cou
- 09. Humanoid