(Album Review) RAZOR - Cycle of Contempt (Relapse Records)
Written by Jeff Tighe
It has been 25 years since Razor released their last album, and given that it has been almost 40 years since their initial 1983 formation, one never knows if this 9th studio album will be their last. Guitarist Dave Carlo remains the principal song writer, but vocalist Rob Reid and bassist Mike Campagnolo add a few songs each to the proceedings.
What the band have produced here is a collection similar to the albums they have produced since Reid joined the band in 1989. Specifically, speed is the primary focus of the songs. The older albums, when Stace McLaren was singing, put more emphasis on producing catchy melodies. The songs still have many memorable sing-along choruses, but there is no question that the band's earlier material had superior writing.
Having said that, Carlo remains king of the thrash guitar riffs and he will have your head moving as you listen, as usual. Founding bassist Campagnolo is on his third tour of duty with Razor, and even though he has been back in the fold for over a decade, this is his first recorded appearance with the band since 1987. Campagnolo and drummer Rider Johnson do a good job keeping up with Carlo's frantic pace and the three produce a thrash whirlwind, as this band always does.
Reid's vocals remain strong and harsh, but for some unknown reason he tries to produce some sort of Cookie Monster growl on the last couple of tracks ("Darkness Falls" and "King Shit") that could have and should have been skipped. The 12 song, 43-minute effort would probably have been better if it had stopped after the first 10 songs.
Still, there is lots of good stuff here that Razor fans will welcome. In particular, opener "Flames of Hatred", "Off My Meds", "A Bitter Pill" and "Crossed" are first class old school thrash. Lyrically, Carlo and Co. still write humourous songs, mostly from the perspective of dimwitted violent thugs and that, along with Reid's easily discernible vocals, allows for a more memorable experience. For thrash fans who like things like they were in the 80s and 90s, this is a welcome return home.