Whoa. Thrash. Yes, it still exists, and very much so in the DIY punk community which seems to have to go further and further underground as loads of shitty boy bands with Mohawks cater to the needs of pre-pubescent boys and girls watching MTV. Strangely enough, it would seem that as the top crust of punk music (Fat Wreck, Epitaph, etc...) deteriorates under the wake of a watery, trend hopping mainstream, the integrity and quality of the smaller independents is ever growing. And with such steady movement, you get today's true visionaries of the genre.
Enter Amsterdam's Vitamin X, and their third full length, Bad Trip, their third release on Havoc. Let me start off by saying that this fucker rips, though maybe not in the most up to date and relevant sense of the word.
From the moment the needle hits the wax, to when the dust settles in what seems like a few minutes, you are hammered with classic 80's style hardcore that is almost unrelenting in speed. Where it does take a break, guitarist Marc Emmerik incorporates a unique classic rock element, ripping pentatonic scales off the fret-board in a way that could almost induce musical nostalgia in people who remember when this music was bone crushing, and not tear jerking. Sometimes the tempo changes seem a little on/off with nothing in between, but when you consider that the LP has 21 tracks, none of which fall below 400 mph, it's easy to see that it wasn't the band's intention to put out the next Pet Sounds.
The production on this reminds me a lot of their classic full length, Down the Drain. When the opening title track kicks in, the first thing you are probably going to notice is just how classic the guitar tone sounds; really dirty, very realistic. The bass is defiantly up there in the mix as well, very tinny and sometimes climbing over the guitar. Most people's biggest complaint would probably be the drums, which sound at times paper thin, with the bass and snare drums being buried under a wall of cymbal noise. However, when packaged together and tightened up with some fairly knowledgeable production, the whole thing comes off as very accurately composed, and compliments the playing in probably the most effective way.
If you aren't lost or confused in any way, congratulations. There really isn't a lot to be said about a style of music that is fairly cut and dry. What you are getting here is right up the alley of anybody who misses Tear It Up, D.S. 13, or the late great No Justice, or anyone who celebrates early 80's hardcore. Don't expect anything new or exciting, but rather sit back and be thrashed into oblivion. The group's strongest work to date, and definitely a very real, down and dirty hardcore record. Put on a bandanna and dive off of something.
7.0 / 10
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