Razor – Violent Restitution (1988)
Yeah, this one’s pretty violent. Razor never took the steps into being death metal that a couple of speed/thrash bands did around this time, but within their style this is still pretty impressively fast and aggressive for 1988. On the other hand, Violent Restitution had been at least outpaced by 1986. The extreme metal arms race took bands very, very far in a short time; in the interest of padding I’d like to mention that the “second wave” of black metal was most likely inspired in part by the difficulty of pushing even further without becoming completely incomprehensible. In the wake of the freaks lies Razor, who colonized their own niche of tough guy thrash, never became super ambitious (well, maybe on Custom Killing), but earned plenty of fans regardless.
In short- Violent Restitution likely offers no surprises to an experienced hesher, but part of this substyle’s appeal is its predictability. It does, however, start with one of the longest and most bloodcurdling screams I have ever heard in any genre of music ever; at 27 seconds (!), it is awe-inspiring, at least from the perspective of not having any formal vocal training. The rest of this album otherwise sticks to speed/thrash orthodoxy. Most of its power comes from its rhythm guitars provided by Dave Carlo, which provide enough variety of riff structure within songs to keep things interesting in the short term. The rest of the instruments are… good enough, to put it bluntly; not particularly memorable in my experience, but nonetheless competent and appropriate for the genre.
With a strong instrumental game in its favor, Violent Restitution‘s weaknesses don’t really show up until you try to listen to the entire thing in one sitting. Then things start to get samey. Razor throws in the expected minor variants in dynamics and stereotypical thrash breaks, and unlike… iuno… Death, they do at least have more than one possible song structure to pull on. Still, you end up with a collection of songs that at least initially sound incredibly similar, with less stylistic variety than even Motörhead. When you’re less innovative than a band notorious for writing the same songs over and over again, that’s not a good sign. I’m not familiar enough with the rest of Razor’s discography to say whether they ever dealt with this problem, but it does mean that I take my Violent Resitution in bite sized pieces most of the time. There are plenty of thrash metal albums of similar intensity that also reach further in the songwriting department.
Highlights: “The Marshall Arts”, “I’ll Only Say It Once”, “Enforcer”