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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Albums You Can't Live Without - Whiplash - Power and Pain



Okay, granted I'm going to be sending interested parties on a wild goose chase with this selection, but maybe one of you indie distributors who specialize in catalog reissues or perhaps my friends at Roadrunner Records might see fit to make an effort to resurrect this thrash gem.

You talk about the indisputable classics of eighties thrash, you're assuredly going to come up with Slayer's Reign in Blood, the finest thrash and death metal album ever sliced out. You'll also undoubtedly hear uttered Metallica's Kill 'em All, Exodus' Bonded by Blood, Death's Scream Bloody Gore, Testament's The Legacy, Anthrax's Spreading the Disease, Nuclear Assault's Game Over, Overkill's Feel the Fire, Possessed's Seven Churches and Megadeth's Killing's My Business and Business is Good.

Seldom-mentioned except by deep-rooted thrash and metal aficiandos, the New Jersey-spawned Whiplash churned out one of the form's greatest outpourings in 1985, Power and Pain. In some ways, Whiplash deserves credit for being one of the first genuine American thrash acts, while Canada's Anvil and Exciter criminally get overlooked for their early-going contributions to the evolution of speed metal.

Released by a then-very young Roadrunner Records, Power and Pain is without a doubt one of the fastest albums of the eighties, a greased lightning engine of doom with pounding velocity, intense shredding and mind-melding guitar solos from an unsung hero of metal, Tony Portaro.

Take your pick of the lot from this unyielding slab: "Stage Dive," "Message in Blood," "Red Bomb," "War Monger" or "Stirring the Cauldron..." These cuts are brutal, finessed, faster than bowels released by castor oil, occasionally choppy but most of the way dialed in from start-to-finish.

Power and Pain is one of the few albums where the similarity of the songs does it service instead of hurts its cause. Scaling the jackrabbit pace down to medium gallop for one song, "Last Man Alive," Whiplash scorches their cuts with admirable precision and subtle tunefulness. Portaro and bassist Tony Bono work harmoniously together at top flight, with Bono's low-end fills flooding his spaces with submerging vibratum tidals. Meanwhile, Whiplash's third Tony (can you imagine the chaos between Whiplash and management back in the day?), drummer Scaglione gives a knee-popping display of untiring double-hammer mayhem.

Behind-the-scenes of Power and Pain are guest cameo vocals from Agnotic Front's Vinnie Stigma and Rob Kabula as well as Carnivore and Type O Negative's Peter Steele and fellow Carnivorian Louie Beateaux, adding to this album's cult legacy.

Just the soaring power metal bridges and breakdowns on "Stirring the Cauldron" gives the song a higher element of class than it would've had without them. This is what separates Power and Pain from a large number of thrash albums of the decade. Try keeping up with the searing synonymous guitar and bass solo on "Spit On Your Grave," I triple dog dare ya...

Broken strings and bleeding fingers be damned, Whiplash poured everything they could humanly muster into this album. While their next album 1987's Ticket to Mayhem is also a solid exercise in thrash mastery, there's no denying Power and Pain was a moment in time that deserved far more exposure than it got. Whiplash would later resurface in the nineties and 2000s with Insult to Injury, Cult of One and Sit Stand Kneel Prey, all of which are discontinued and are a real bitch to hunt down.

You can find Power and Pain and Ticket to Mayhem on one disc released by Holland's Displeased Records (who mysteriously forget to credit "Nailed to the Cross" on the track listing) as well another import label, Massacre. Whoever is in charge of the licensing of Power and Pain, do us all a favor, most especially Whiplash; get this sucker back out to the metal masses and let a genuine classic unleash itself unto a new generation of thrash addicts and those who might've missed out the first time.

Seriously, if you love thrash, you can't live without this one...

3 comments:

Metal Mark said...

Whiplash are back. They are currently signed to Pulverized records and I believe they are going into the studio soon. I would probably question several of those albums you listed as classics. The main one is Nuclear Assault's Game Over. I think many people know it was a badly produced misfire. The band turned it around later on though.

DPTH International said...

Thanks Ray for peaking my curiousity for Whiplash. Now there is another band I have to check out.

I've spent the last year or so picking up thrash re-issues and such. It's probably my favourite style of metal when done well.

Hopefully I can find something by them ...

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Well, classics are obviously in eyes and ears of the beholder, but when you're talking about a concensus of opinion based on readings and conversation, those are the ones I hear come up all the time. I prefer Handle With Care, honestly, but Game Over is fun for one of their earlier albums. I thought you mentioned Whiplash being back. Can't wait to hear what they're up to.

Dpth, trace this one down if you love thrash. If you have trouble, hit me back and I'll try to help.