Heaven and Hell Records [Release date 29.06.16]
Old school Thrash Metal fans, especially those who are into finding those rare, obscure, and hard to find bands, need look no further for the coolest release of the year in this genre.
Heaven and Hell Records have remastered and reissued North Carolina Thrash masters Denial’s first album No Comment. If you’re unfamiliar with this band, then allow me to introduce them to you. They are four guys from NC with a love and passion for making some of the most intense metal, who built up a cult following touring the local sheds and bars around, leaving broken necks all over the state and beyond.
I never got the chance to witness their carnage live back in the day, but heard the name here and there over the years growing up in this area. When I heard the album was being released and would contain some bonus live tracks I couldn’t wait.
As evidenced on No Comment, Denial had a sound that borrowed from such luminaries at the time as Vio-lence, Death Angel, Flotsam & Jetsam, and Exodus, cultivating a unique sound and stretching the genre to further bounds.
Vocalist/guitarist Jeff Triece (now a member of the Charlotte NC band No Power No Crown) has an intense and sarcastic voice like Mustaine does, yet with an approach that tapped into Sean Killian meets Mark Osegueda.
The twin guitar power between Triece and Keith Earnhardt is absolutely brilliant and rivals some of the best twin duos in metal, delivering up tempo aggressive riffs and stunningly swift solos that boggle the mind and may have twisted their fingers many times over the years. Bassist John Lawther was no slouch either, often delivering bass lines as fast paced as the six string slingers.
With Kelly Rodgers on the drums, flexing a power and proficiency that sounds like Animal meets Keith Moon, adding another layer of metallic presence to the songs. Yes, the songs sound like old school thrash because that is what it is, but they hold up so much better than some of their contemporaries.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is “The Awakening” with this foreboding, eerie and somewhat discordant intro riff that perfectly set the tone for the song, which in turn becomes this super aggressive track, with that riff sprinkled throughout.
I also like that the band tended to throw convention out of the window and make their songs a little differently, like “Third World Nation” waiting until about four minutes into the song to introduce vocals. This unique approach endeared me even more to their music. On the CD version is a collection of live bonus tracks that get the blood pumping and the head banging. The packaging is also quite superb.
I remember being in middle and high school and discovering heavier music leading me to my love of Thrash Metal. Finding these hidden nuggets, especially one from around my neck of the woods, is something that I am finding more and more joy out of the older I get. It’s like a never ending fountain of metal, almost a Fountain of Youth, because an album like No Comment from Denial transports me back to the good old days. ****1/2
Review by Chris Martin
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