Monday, April 25, 2011

Thrash is backward compatible

As my wife was running some errands a few days ago, she was digging through her glove box to find a CD.

She was in the mood for some Puppets-era Metallica, but knowing that the disc was not in the car, she was hoping to find something heavy to satisfy her appetite for thrash.

Let me say that her appetite for thrash is a rare hunger pang. She is not well versed in thrash (although better than your average Joe), and truthfully is not a fan of the all-out nonstop speed thrash. The *pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa* of the persistent snare drives her nuts.

Don't get me wrong, she has a heart for heavy music (her faves include Testament, Obituary, Pro-Pain, Megadeth, and even Napalm Death, which may contradict what I said in the previous paragraph, but Napalm has a knack for dynamics and hell-heavy breakdowns), but for the really fast stuff, her intake has to be in small doses.

So as she rummaged around through the glove box, she came across my burned copy of Vio-lence's Eternal Nightmare. Even as a fan of Machine Head, she had no idea who Vio-lence was, but popped the CD in anyway (probably fully expecting not to like it).

She admitted to not liking the first song, mainly due to the vocals, as do a lot of people who experience Killian's vocals for the first time. She listened to part of the second song (Serial Killer), and hit the skip.

Then began the song Phobophobia. Her thumb departed the skip button as the opening riffs caught her ear. When the vocals eventually kicked in, she still kept her digits far away from the skip button, allowing the song to continue uninterrupted.

She liked the song, which is a positive victory. Start small. One song. That's good.

I, myself, recently found that once you let a little bit of Vio-lence's music creep into your brain, the rest will eventually storm in, invade your privacy, make itself at home and eat your food. Then all you'll want to do is listen to Eternal Nightmare. It's a cosmic rule that E.N. can turn ordinary humans into thrash-frenzied maniacs. Look it up.

Anyway, when my wife later told me that she really liked "this one song" from Vio-lence, I was happy. I figured that out of all the thrash in which she might give a chance, Vio-lence would be at the bottom of the list next to Rigor Mortis and Guillotine.

When I told her who they are (classic-area thrash with members of Machine Head) and how it was weird that I never really listened to them until recently, she looked puzzled.

"Oh, they are that old?" she asked. "I thought I was listening to one of those new thrash bands that you are into."

HA! Did you all get that? She thought Vio-lence was a NEW thrash band.

Now, I am not making fun of her untrained ear toward thrash, nor am I poking fun at her mistaking a classic thrash band as a recent upstart stalk in the vast crop of the NWOTM.

No, I am praising her mistake! Why?

Because, as the bane of purists and to the delight of fans, when it is said that bands such as Violator, Bonded by Blood, and Municipal Waste sound like they could have come out of 1987 instead of 2011, they are right!

The music of newer thrash bands can be mistaken to be from an earlier era because a lot of it is undiluted thrash in its purest form. They want to play THRASH, criticisms of unoriginality be damned.

This is great news for new fans! Just as a vast number of NWOTM music could have been written and released 25 years ago, albums such as 4 of a Kind, Extreme Aggression, Kill 'Em All, and Game Over could be released today without the concerns of sounding dated.

In other words, new fans of thrash should have no problem skipping from era to era, experiencing everything thrash has to offer. It's backward compatible.

To a lot of us, thrash is forward-compatible, too, despite what the purists will say.

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