5 Metal Albums That Deserve Reissue Treatment, by Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder)

Photo: Metal Blade Records

Hey dudes! Trevor Strnad from The Black Dahlia Murder here, aka The Obituarist at Metal Injection, bringing you a short list of 5 killer metal albums deserving of a proper reissue treatment for one of my very favorite sites on the web, No Echo! I have tremendous amount of respect for what Carlos does here, and it’s truly an honor to be asked by him to contribute a small bit. I'm a fan of Carlos’ work with the tremendous power violence freak out that was Black Army Jacket as a young man, still am to this day! The band was incredibly unique and flippin’ awesome. Fanboy gushing aside, as a hunter of all things extreme, there’s truly nothing I really love more than discovering “new” old music and I’m sure a lot of you would say the same. Here’s five sick ones for your hungry earholes that will hopefully see a new life in the near future, fingers crossed!

E-X-E, Stricken by Might (1987)

Damn, man, this is a really good one for you guys who just can’t get enough old thrash metal. E-X-E came ripping out of New York City and managed to create nothing short of a ripple in their time on the scene. Gotta love this cover art… it’s hokey as fuck. Reminds me of the first Slayer. I can see this on a mirror you’d win at the carnival in the '80s… looks perfectly appropriate. I’m sure this amateurish cover was absolute fan repellent back in the day. Coming out on LP in 1987, it was a little late for things to be looking this campy. Speaking of thrash gods Slayer, the vocals and the bulk of the music of Stricken By Might owe quite a bit to Tom Araya and crew, I believe that’s how I even happened upon these guys, by combing lists and message boards web-wide for Slayer clones. There is also a good bit of leather glove wearing speed metal ala Exciter coursing E-X-E’s potent bloodstream. Stricken by Might is a fun, energetic, youthful metallic romp sure to get your blood pumping. It has a raw, homegrown, amateurish edge that I just love. A little sloppy, but more than made up for by their general enthusiasm.

These dudes had fun with their music, and you can tell. Look at the pictures of these guys from the liner notes… what assholes. I guess it’s all par for the course. “Autopsy” is a cool track with a nice ominous intro. “Metal Hell” is pretty dorky, it reminds me of Piledriver a little bit. Total cheese! These dudes even have a song called “Slayer," as if to say “yeah, we know they’re out there, but what’s the big deal?” Funny stuff. I managed to score a weird Greek bootleg CD of this album, but this is probably as close to a real thing as I’ll ever get. I personally think this is exactly the kind of stuff retro labels like Divebomb and Highroller would flip for… a proper remastering would do wonders for this beast. If you like early Slayer, Necronomicon, Exciter, early Running Wild; get ready to cut your bangs straight across and commit to the awesomeness that is E-X-E!!!

Indestroy, Indestroy (1987)

Fucking Indestroy! Too sick! This underappreciated clan hung their hats in Rockville, Maryland and are under threat of fading into complete obscurity if this shit doesn’t see some kind of reissue treatment. It simply deserves to be heard and go down as a proper classic in the annals of thrash metal. New Renassiance was a cool little label back in the day, and these dudes, along with At War, held down the Slayerized corner of the roster. I love how raw this is. Raw but still highly listenable. The garage-y production is just cool. It creates a unique atmosphere placing brass knuckle firmly in your jean jacket pocket, ready for action. Like mid period Razor, this is some street fighting ass shit, right here! The guitar playing is quite tight… these dudes could really riff! The solos are noteworthy, too, better than one might expect from such an obscure release. The searing shred fests cut right through the garagey murk in a way that really grabs one by the short hairs. Electrifying stuff! The drum kit has an awesome punchy sound… as real as it gets. Love the aggressive snare and those lovely real kicks. There is a very cynical, hateful vibe to the material overall that permeates the duration of this fine thrash metal gem. It’s got a certain darkness to it, a streetwise hellishness that is difficult to put into words. It’s downright mean.

The infernal vibe of opener “The Gate” is pretty gnarly. They play around a good bit with these kind of slowed down, horror fueled passages with great impact. Indestroy knew how to be a bit scary when the time was right but they could also be quite funny. Tracks like “Dead Girls (Don’t Say No)” and “Justice Sucks” display a bit of tongue and cheek humor that still manages to come off mean spirited and menacing rather than being some kind of hokey poorly aged detractor (see: any Anthrax joke). I can’t say enough good things about this album. This is truly addictive stuff. I’ve heard from Matt of Divebomb Records that any attempts to reach out to New Renaissance Records have been met with silence, truly a bummer that this can’t get the deluxe reissue it so deserves. Awesome cover by Drew Elliot, who I will forever equate with the insane artwork for Goreaphobia’s Omen of Masochism EP. Fans of At War, Razor, Nuclear Assault, Blood Feast, or Evildead would eat this shit right up. The day is approaching where I will pay 50 goddamn dollars for this thing on compact disc and cry myself to sleep in shame.

Mortify, Abyssal (1995)

Really sick early Deicide worship from these forgotten Polish rippers with links to the slightly more well known band Betrayer. It doesn’t get more obscure than this! Abyssal was a cassette-only release in 1996, pressed by the Morbid Noizz Productions label. A bit late to the scene, sure, but Abyssal is some really good stuff in the vein of Legion-era Deicide. I would kill for a newly sourced version of this recording, straight from the reels, forgoing the limitations of the cassette (and the low quality mp3s) it’s been immortalized on. I would be delighted to find a high-quality rip of this thing anywhere on the web. I had my sights on a tape of this on discogs to digitize it to FLAC and it disappeared before I could buy it…. way to blow it, Trevor! If you can get into Deicide knock offs like Armagedon, Luciferion, early Hate, or Infestdead, this will certainly float your satan loving boat.

Mule Skinner, Abuse (1996)

Super sick album of below the radar grindcore perfection right here! Mule Skinner hail from Louisana and were thost to two members of the legendary Flesh Parade. Why this fine release is barely mentioned in the same grind loving circles that jock Flesh Parade evades me. This shit kills! Mule Skinner purvey an insanely vitriolic brand of punk infused crusty grind with some impressive hate-fueled chops. Think of a more tight and ripping Righteous Pigs. This disc was originally released by Sludge Records out of France in 1996 and now fetches a pretty penny when it should appear online. To me, this is the kind of stuff Relapse should be putting out instead of their weird college metal crap. Total grindcore annihilation and definitely worth your time!

Vomiturition, Head Tales (1993) and A Leftover (1995) 

To tell you the truth, I really couldn’t decide which of these two releases to cover here for this little one-off feature, and I reckon that both releases could easily fit on the same CD (with the few other odds and ends) in an awesome discography. Why sister band Cartilage continues to receive so much praise while this awesome band remains the bastard stepchild in their shadow has always been beyond me. Vomiturition had one hell of a rich pedigree amidst their young ranks, including Rotten Sound’s Keijo Niinimaa and Mikko Alto. By the time they were concocting the strange brew that is A Leftover in 1995, the band had expanded their ranks to include no less than three Cartilage members, namely Harri Huhtala, Mikko Hannuksela, and the unstoppable drum wiz, Kai Hahto. The releases are quite different, but equally sick and gravely underappreciated.

First off, let’s start with the crushing Head Tales EP, which hasn’t even been reviewed yet on Metal Archives. That just goes to show you how obscure this is! Head Tales is actually one of my favorite old school death metal EPs of all time. No shit! I paid around $45 dollars for it, if I remember correctly, and I’ve spun it so goddamn much that I am more than sure I’ve gotten my money’s worth. It’s a real powerhouse of slow to midpaced crushing Finnish death in the tradition of early Belial, Amorphis, and Convulse. The song “Falling” is just simply one of the greatest death metal songs I’ve ever heard; so friggin’ brutal, direct, and catchy! Keijo’s voice is much more guttural than what he goes for these days, you may not even recognize him. Dude was just a young buck, somewhere in the 13-15 area. He’s got a bruising low bellow here that could rival Mikael Åkerfeldt at his height. I’m gonna take a wild stab and guess that the horrendous artwork of this fine little EP has had something to do with the albums lack of exposure… it has zero curb appeal. The drawing is so bad that even if the artist was in 3rd grade, ol’ Mom would be likely to yank that one down from the fridge in favor of a Cottage Inn pizza delivery menu and conveniently lose it into the circular file (i.e. garbage can). Just do what I did and cover your eyes, take a rip from your favorite bowl, press play, and witness Finnish death metal perfection!

On their second outing for Invasion Records, Vomiturition don’t sound as distinctly Finnish as they do on the Head Tales EP, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t just as good. I would liken what they did here to countrymen Mordicus; harboring a sound that mines from both Swedish and Finnish influence. It’s a far more progressive affair than the simple-minded EP. It’s quite adventurous, actually. If you are like me and are always longing for a nostalgic old school death metal blast, this will fill your sails and then some.

That’s all for now, mutants! Happy eBay-ing and Discog-ing! Be sure to check me out over at Metal Injection for more recommendations each month, and finally a huge thanks to Carlos for having me. Slay on, Slayers!

Tagged: exe, indestroy, mortify, mule skinner, obscure metal, the black dahlia murder, vomiturition