As the saying goes, ‘when one door closes, another opens’. In September 2018, the metal world was left stunned when Robb Flynn, founder of MACHINE HEAD, revealed that guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Dave McClain were leaving the band after spells of 15 and 23 years respectively. Within weeks, the rumour mill started up again in respect of the former and the potential for a reformation of the band he’d started back in 1985: VIO-LENCE. By January of 2019, those rumours became fact; the Bay Area thrashers, credited as one of the leading lights in the second wave of the genre from the late 80s/early 90s, were back in business, and Friday March 4th sees their first new music in nearly 30 years released to the world; the EP Let The World Burn via Metal Blade Records.
VIO-LENCE in 2022 now consists of Demmel, founding drummer Perry Strickland, long-time vocalist Sean Killian and new members Bobby Gustafson (formerly of OVERKILL) and ex-FEAR FACTORY bassist Christian Olde Wolbers. Given the timespan since 1993’s Nothing To Gain, it’s a smart move by the band to release an EP instead of a full-length record, as it’s allowed them the opportunity to find their feet again and please their fanbase without putting too much pressure on them to deliver on a bigger scale.
That being said, maybe an LP would have been a better option because Let The World Burn finds a band that, despite their extra years and new members, haven’t missed a beat. Opening track Flesh From Bone is arguably the weakest track here and it’s still a ripsnorter of riffs, double kicks and cutthroat vocals with a real edge to the punkier side of thrash that ANTHRAX built their whole career on; the two new boys get their respective chances to shine as well.
Screaming Always moves into more SLAYER territory – Killian unintentionally channels Tom Araya exceedingly well in the chorus – although the vocal-only ‘rap’ towards the end is a bit bobbins, must be said. Upon The Cross continues the momentum well, the tempo taken down a notch to allow for a big slab of headbanging fun, whilst Gato Negro (Spanish for ‘black cat’) is the shortest track – the only one under four minutes – and brings the pace back up to the level it was previously. Closing the EP is the title track, another blistering track that defies the band’s years; they’re playing as quick as POWER TRIP and that’s no lie.
VIO-LENCE have been sorely missed, and there will be many out there who hope this return to music will be as powerful and destructive as before; they’re not going to be disappointed. With another EP due out towards the end of this year at the earliest, this looks set to be a fruitful return, a second bite of the cherry taken with utmost pleasure. Welcome back, lads.
Let The World Burn is set for release on March 4th via Metal Blade Records.
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