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DEATHROW
DEATHROW
Raging Steel
(Displeased Records)
64:02min

There was a time when the difference between the American Thrash and the German Thrash was... well, that I liked a lot more the German Thrash! It was more primitive, aggressive and in your face. Whereas most bands in America at some point wanted to show they were musicians, the Germans were happy producing aggressive music. DEATHROW was one of the bands from let's say, the second wave of Thrash in Teutonic lands. This second album, after a controversial label start (basically for the title of the album in the USA that changed from "Satan's Gift" to "Riders Of Doom"), created a good expectation for this release. Whereas their debut album was compared to SLAYER and to some point to KREATOR, the band was clever enough to drift away a bit from sounding like a mere copy. As the rule in the late 80s, they have a quite simple logo, and a painted cover, with an epic-war was looking style, albeit fitting the band's lyrical content. DEATHROW's lyrics on this album were more fantasy-based upon a land in war where demons and dragons besides swords and blood, were everywhere. Completing the picture was the ferocious Thrash Metal attack of this German quartet. A heavy, thick production courtesy of Harris Johns, makes this one lost jewel, and a serious contender for one of the best German Thrash Metal albums. Vocalist Milo is maybe a hard card to get completely into his style; whereas he is obviously a less growler that similar bands like KREATOR or SODOM, he is neither a vocalist. I have always thought of his style as quite similar to that of Don Doty of DARK ANGEL, although with his obvious personal tone. He is wise enough to add some really deadly screams here and there, and a few more melodic parts in some other songs like in 'Beyond The Light'. The band plays mostly fast, but has some more mid-tempo songs that showcased a very heavy approach like on 'Dragon's Blood'. Something to notice is the weird, yet effective drumming style of Markus Hahn. Both guitar players have obviously improved a lot in their performance compared to the more sloppy debut album, and this time, I can feel more some sounds comparable to METALLICA and early ANTHRAX in a couple of songs, yet still played at a ferocious speed. Highlights of this album are many, as there is really no filler, with killer cuts like the opener and which gives title to the album or the more complex 'Scattered By The Wind' or the fantastic thrasher of 'Mortal Dread'. Up to this day I do not know if it was done intentional, but the album starts with no mercy, with the songs slowly giving some rest, to again end in a very energetic form (yet not as fast, but energetic) with one of the best Thrash Metal instrumental songs in 'The Undead Cry'. I can say now, that DEATHROW has an identity of their own in just their second album, which makes it hard to compare to other bands. In spite of what I was listening in this album, I must say I was anxiously waiting for their third long play. I always thought DEATHROW was the one band that will be along the other 'three' big ones from German lands. Yet, the development and style shown on their next effort "Deception Ignored" was a big let down for fans like me of this jewel. A case of a German band that took more out of the American influence and failed. This new edition finally comes with all the lyrics (which are missing in the vinyl and tape editions) besides 4 extra tracks from their demo "Eternal Death" (when they were called SAMHAIN), the sound has been re.mastered for optimal audio pleasure, and it also contains the photo collage (which was quite common back in the days due to the vinyl size sleeves) and the full demo and album thanks lists. Now that it is quite hard to get this release in this original format, we all have a second chance to grab this great album in a great edition. As I said before, this is easily one of the best German Thrash Metal albums (yeah, in my view even better, more balanced and focused than many other German jewels) but by fate, it was destined to a rather obscure place. What happened later, I cannot comprehend, yet this legacy of Metal and steel is here as a mark of blood into eternity... www.displeasedrecords.com.

Julián Núńez

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DEATHROW
DEATHROW
Raging Steel
(Noise Records / BMG)
69:35min

Back in the day my friends and I had some sort of “guide” for Metal bands: 1) their first album was going to be raw and badly played, but showed the ideas 2) The second album was going to be a lot better and with an identity of their own, yet still with some fails and 3) The third album was the pinnacle of their career, they will never do an album like that again. Well, in fact it was pretty accurate for many bands, but some others were far away from that. In this case for the second album of German Metalheads DEATHROW “Raging Steel” is at least for me, their best material they ever did. The style of a SLAYER inspired band was still there, but now they added some “epic” way of composing that no other band I had heard so far was doing in a similar way. Whereas the debut was almost all speed, and this is still fast, it is also VERY heavy and even in slower songs like 'Dragon´s Blood' they really shine. Also they did one hell of an instrumental Thrash Metal anthem with 'The Undead Cry'. Milo’s vocals are still quite unidimensional, yet they fit quite well, and when he tries to do some slight singing, he does sound really good. The music being heavier, is also adorned with more of those technical touches, yet better played and very well executed. And there is passion in the music, and wicked melody is all around. Let’s not forget the epic cover art of a warrior guiding his army into battle. This is to me among the best Thrash Metal releases done in Germany and it was a shame that the band didn’t keep it up as SODOM, KREATOR or DESTRUCTION as they were on to be the four trinity of German Thrash (and a lot better than TANKARD up to this point). Again this remastered version on CD seems to fix the too loud and compressed version of a few years back, and the vinyl is also a nice addition. As bonus we get some demo and live tracks that could as well be taken out and nothing will happen. It is really a great thing that this monumental album and masterpiece of Thrash is available again. https://deathrowmetal.bandcamp.com, www.noiserecords.net

Julián “Dragon’s Blood” Núńez

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