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THRUST
THRUST
Fist Held High & Reincarnation
(Metal Blade Records)
135:12min

The US Metal movement of the 1980s still is a fountain that never seems to run dry of bands and music to be discovered. So many bands released albums in editions so limited that it isn't even funny for collectors. Sometimes there are debates whether some bands are US Metal or not. Yet there is no doubt that THRUST from Chicago ARE US Metal. And to me there is no doubt that their only full length album of the golden era of Heavy Metal (1984, to be precise) is one of the most underrated gems of the genre. In this particular case, “underrated” means that even yous truly needed more than a decade to discover and dig out this gem called “Fist Held High”. It was my personal bible of the late 1990s, the German book trilogy “U.S. Metal” on Iron Pages, who gave me the advice to check it out. And as soon as I discovered that album, first the worthy CD re-release on Maximum Metal / High Vaultage, later on vinyl, it never let me loose again. The sheer power of THRUST really got me banging my head and raising my fist any time I heard it. “Fist Held High” was nothing less than pounding Metal, devastatingly heavy and, contrary to the taste of time, neither fast nor thrashing. In addition, the songwriting skills of THRUST brought to light some real anthems. The opening title track 'Fist Held High' and the flipside starter 'Heavier Than Hell' are already perfect examples for those hymns. Yet there were even greater tunes on that album. 'Posers Will Die!' was nothing less than the perfect anthem for real Metalheads in the mid 1980s. And 'Metallic Attack' simply is one of the fuckin' best M.E.T.A.L. songs of all times. This one has the qualities to be an ear worm for all eternity. I caught myself in the early morning, going to work while singing those words in the chorus... “Metallic attack! Into the black!” Yeah, these are words that contain a truth valid in the next billion years! Well, I shouldn't neglect the other four tunes on “Fist Held High” here, since 'Overdrive', the long 'Freedom Fighters', 'Thrasher' and 'Torture Chamber' are songs today's Metal bands would kill for! So, there's only one question that remains unanswered yet: why was “Fist Held High” not the successful album it deserved to be? On the one hand, there was John Bonata's voice. Somewhere in between Tim Baker of CIRITH UNGOL and Nasty Ronnie of NASTY SAVAGE, Mr. Bonata did not please anyone's ears. On the other hand, it was a case of “wrong place, wrong time”. In 1984, the signs were set for nothing less than Speed and Thrash Metal. In addition, the band broke up after moving from Chicago to California and back again soon. It was guitar player Ron Cooke that kept the band alive in California. But that's another story... So, it is the year 2015 now, the 35th anniversary of the formation of THRUST, so Metal Blade took the chance to re-release this gem. And it's not just the single album on this disc. In fact, it is a double disc with a more than 90 minutes of extra material. The original album features the same extras as the already sold out and therefore rare Maximum Metal release from 1998. These are four tracks originally released in 1982 already by an obscure label from the Chicago area on a s plit live album called "Solidarnosc Rock For Poland". THRUST shared this album with LAZER (a.k.a. THE LAZER BAND) and took the chance to present four of their songs in competently recorded live versions. None of the four tracks made it onto the album, even though especially 'Iron Gates' (“For the people of Poland”) and 'Feast Of Flesh' would have fitted perfectly. I need to mention here that singer John Bonata was playing drums at those times while a guy named Roger Terry did the vocals here, sounding much more standard. Additionally, both versions of this disc feature the fantastic 'Destructer' that THRUST contributed to the “Metal Massacre IV” compilation in 1984 as well, being one of the highlights of that compilation. Even though these 13 songs alone are worth getting this re-release, there's one more CD here to talk about. The second disc features another complete THRUST album! “Reincarnation” was recorded after the original THRUST line-up fell apart and only Ron Cooke remained in California. The newly formed THRUST entered the studio around 1988 / 1989 with Bob Kulick as producer, but the result didn't see the light of day until now. Listening to the ten songs, I'd say this happened for a reason. The vocals of the new singer Andy Beaudry were much more tamed than the voice of John Bonata, and the same goes for the music. The songs on “Reincarnation” are conventional Heavy Metal with a touch of Hard Rock, lacking a bit of the power connected to the name THRUST and sometimes of good ideas as well. It even featured pretty lame and uninspired ballads like ' God Only Knows' or 'The Fool'. On the other hand, there are songs like the opening 'War' or 'Hypocrite' that are pretty good and some more quite nice tunes. But “quite nice” is not what's to expect from a band like THRUST. And songs like 'Get Crazy' or 'Cheater' even are more Hard Rock than Metal. But this still is not all that's featured on this double disc. Eight more bonus tracks with John Bonata's vocals are on this disc as well. These are taken from the two live rehearsals THRUST recorded and released as “Demo # 1” and “Demo # 2” in 1983. The quality of these tracks is surprisingly good, thanks to the careful remastering work of Achim Köhler. Except for 'Fist Held High', all the songs were not released on CD or vinyl before and this means that THRUST fans can dig for gems again! The double strike of 'Intensity' (a longer instrumental introduction) and 'No Mercy' already hints what great band THRUST must have been in the classic line-up. These two would have fitted perfectly on “Fist Held High”. And 'Rockin The Night' is way better than the song's title. The sing-along 'Back On The Street' and the slightly odd 'Evil Redeemer' are of the same quality before the brisk 'Psycho Killer' once more leaves the question why THRUST haven't released “Fist Held High” as a double LP back then. The last rare track 'Stand Up And Fight' is simply awesome, and would have been one of the highlights of the album, if it would only have been recorded for it. It's worthy ending for more than two hours of US Metal history. As I already stated, it's “Fist Held High” alone that's worth getting this disc set, the bonus material of the Chicago era is obligatory stuff for all those who already know THRUST and even though “Reincarnation” is negligible, some songs are worth checking out as well. Considering the fact that this double disc sells for a special price, there's no reason not to get it... Check the band at www.facebook.com/pages/thrust/564068597016948 and the label at www.metalblade.com

Thomas Meyer

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