artwork (c) Iron Maiden
Speed metal was starting to form in the early 1980’s, picking up steam and growing to be its own entity towards the middle of the decade. By 1986 it was exploding. Bands like Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth were taking their sounds to more people, but the underground was on fire too.
New Jersey’s Whiplash had been playing around clubs in the New Jersey/NYC area for a few years and gone the normal route with demos and word-of-mouth. They were even featured on the 1985 compilation Speed Metal Hell which is where I first heard them.
A year later the three Tonys line-up (Portaro, Bono and Scaglione) let loose their debut Power and Pain. It’s a swirling, chaotic monster even twenty-plus years after the fact.
Thrash would soon see definite styles and labels forming like the “Bay Area” sound of Metallica, Exodus and others or the “German speed metal” sound of Kreator, Sodom and more. However, Whiplash had their own style when they started. From the spine-crushing anthems of “Stage Dive” and “Power Thrashing Death” to the blood boiling “Spit On Your Grave,” every song on this album rips into you with its fire and energy.
I listened to every thrash album that came down the pike back then. Many have not aged well as their clunky approach or lack of skills have become evident two decades later. Not true with this band, though. Even thought the rest of Whiplash’s on-and-off-again career has been hit-and-miss, their debut still stands as a fantastic example of early thrash.