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Strappado (1987)

Slaughter was one of the first Canadian thrash metal bands, formed in August of 1984 by Terry Sadler, Dave Hewson and Ron Sumners. The band recorded a handful of demos, as well as the Nocturnal Hell E.P., between 1984 and 1986. By early February 1986, Slaughter entered the studio to record their debut L.P. Strappado. Due to delays, the album wasn't released until 1987.

I discovered Slaughter through the song "The Fourth Dimension", which was featured on the Metal Massacre X compilation. After going back and listening to that song (just before writing this), I must say that it's not as far behind the material of their debut as I imagined. It's definitely more complex. At any rate, it was enough to get me into this band. This album was obtained around the same time as Tales of Terror from Hallows Eve, Torment in Fire from Sacrifice and Dark Angel's We Have Arrived. As a result, they are forever linked in my head.

The album begins with the title track, which is very short. The first thing that this made me think of was Slayer's Reign In Blood. Even some of the vocal patterns are similar, in a sense. The production is kind of fuzzy, which suits this style just fine. The vocals are kind of harsh but not completely. There still remains some semblance of humanity in his voice, with some of the screams being similar to Rob Urbinati, of Sacrifice.

With no time to gather your thoughts, "The Curse" blasts forth. As with the previous song, there is something very familiar about the vocal pattern. This time, it seems very close to something from Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion. The song is very brief and maintains the same pace, throughout. Despite its brevity, it possesses a great deal of power. The lyrics are suited to this sound, well enough.

"To summon up the gods of wrath
Into forests, Satanists chant
To bring forth the beast in flesh
To spread the curse is our quest"

"Disintegrator" is the shortest song, at only one minute long. This one is a bit more intense than the last one, still keeping with the frenetic pace that has been established thus far. Unfortunately, it's too brief to really get into. It bleeds right into the next track.

"Incinerator" is the longest song, up until this point, yet it is my least favorite. The vocals are cleaner and the vocal pattern isn't very pleasant, for some reason. It sounds like something from a Belladonna-era Anthrax album, which doesn't fit in too well with this album. The song isn't bad, especially during the sections bereft of vocals.

This is followed by "Parasites". Again, there is no pause between the songs. This one is dominated by a mid-paced thrash riff and a return to the harsher vocal style. The tempo picks up during the chorus, but this is rather brief.

"F.O.D. (Fuck of Death)" begins with a riff that is very similar to the one from the previous song. It is mid-paced as well, remaining primitive and simplistic, while adding Slayer-esque lead solos to give a more hellish effect. Clocking in at just under four minutes, this is the second longest track on here.

The next song is "Tortured Souls", with an opening riff that sounds like a sped-up version of something from Kill 'Em All. As the song slows down, a demonic voice says: "We are the tortured souls!" The track alternates between fast and mid-paced riffs, with a brief solo thrown in.

"Nocturnal Hell" is my favorite song on here. This is one of the more memorable slabs of Death/Thrash on here, and may have served the album better by being positioned earlier on the record. The main riff is certain to remain in your skull. One even might detect some hint of influence from Hellhammer, as this song progresses.

Strappado concludes with the longest song to be found here; "Tales of the Macabre". It begins with the drums and then a heavy bass sound that follows. The guitars then rise from the crypt, possessing kind of a twisted feeling. There is a definite Hellhammer feeling on here. The vocals are cleaner on this one, but it works better this time. They are kind of weak, but it matters little. The ending of the song is interesting enough, as it borrows heavily from an old Slayer song, in the manner that is builds up to the final moments.

Slaughter is one of the better bands to emerge from the Great White North, so it is recommended for all fans of old school '80s death and thrash metal. This isn't quite on the level of Sacrifice's Torment In Fire, but it is essential for any fan of Canadian death/thrash metal.
(5 May 2009)

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