Cut the crap, here’s the thrash.
When this whole thrash revival scene kicked off, it didn’t take long for my excitement to turn to ennui. Blame it on one too many faceless bands who’d spent more time hunting down hi-top sneakers and bullet belts than they did on their songcraft; blame it on record companies eager to cash in and releasing material that tried too hard to ape the highlights from Bonded By Blood or Kill ‘Em All without aspiring to the same level of quality, never mind originality.
Birth AD, whose crossover thrash/hardcore sound reminds me of S.O.D., D.R.I. and the likes, kicks that whole scene to the curb with their righteous, one-minute-forty-one-second ‘Mission Statement’. Eschewing the unearned populism of so many wannabe thrash bands, frontman/bassist Jeff declaims ‘we won’t write any songs about thrash/or put it on our t-shirts for easy cash/we’ll never tell you to get in the pit/we don’t give a shit’. It helps that this statement of purpose is delivered over a buoyant, breathless punk-metal riff-fest, straightforward but never monotonous and, despite its short running time, not without a certain modicum of musical development.
The rest of the album follows in the same vein, delivering one short, cynical anthem after another. Songs like ‘Failed State’ and ‘Popular War’ take on political issues while ‘I Blame You’ and ‘Short Bus Society’ sees the band taking a jaundiced view of the blowhards, wingnuts and common folk who are as much to blame for the state of things. Before you start thinking this is all heavy political activism, like a punked-up RATM, the great thing about Birth AD, and what connects them more deeply to the subgenre they’re working in is the sense of fun – there’s just something in the snotty delivery, the gang shouts and the relentless, effusive energy of the band that makes it hard to keep a straight face.
Dark Descent Records has long been one of the most consistent labels in the death/doom/black metal scene; this is the debut release from their thrash sub-label, Unspeakable Axe Records. The integrity and quality of this release, all the way down to the memorable cover art, suggest that we can expect good things from both the label and the band.