Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sacred Death - Deadly Playground

As grunge swept the nation in the early 90's, innumerable bands, worthy of a shot at metal fame, were left to rot away in various states of decay. While big-wigs such as Metallica toned and dumbed down or embraced the changing music scene and incorporated hip hop influences and hardcore into their sound, a few notable names popped up to release minor albums and then disband or evaporate shortly afterwards. Sacred Death, sadly, fall into this category of "evaporated thrash." Their release, Deadly Playground, although a somewhat lackadaisical title, is no piece of dirt on tape.

Musically, this is old school thrash action that would be akin to taking pit inducing tracks such as "Raining Blood" or "Wake Up Dead" and adding in some classic metal moments in seamless fashion - though less traditional metal than say, Heathen's Breaking The Silence. There is a slight amount of noticeable crossover influence also. In short, if released in 1982 or 1983, this album would have become a legendary classic in metal. The late 80's death metal movement hasn't lost its impact on these thrashers either and the influence of Altars of Madness and Spiritual Healing can be heard throughout; most recognizable in the drumming patterns.

One of my favorite aspects about the album is the vocals. Awesome vocal patterns that show a regard for riffing and for letting the music speak as much as the lyrics. The vocals aren't overused cover up nothing in the music. The lyrics are very traditional thrash although there is a hint that Jeff Lanning is a respectable Christian. Lyrics at the end of "In The Night" read: Pray and don't deny the only one who died to save us all. Not my personal favorite lyric on the album. "Love or Lust" also falls in line with this ideological viewpoint. I would not classify this as a Christian thrash band though but I do maintain my respect for the vocalist being able to sing lyrics that actually have meaning to him.

Little can be said for the songwriting. It is consistent throughout. Well placed solos and strong riffs make up the vast majority of the songs. Although lyrically, "Pit and Pendulum" offers only a truncated version of Poe's classic story at best, the musical aspects during this track remain strong. The solo in Two Faced is also a highlight, ripping into the album like children laughing and making fun of each other... possibly while playing at a very dangerous playground. "Execution" is an instrumental track that while short is unnecessary and not fitting with the rest of the album.

"Bad Advice", "In The News", and "Blind Leading Blind" are all strong tracks that offer plenty of head banging time. "Social D" is by far, the strongest track. Opening with a sick riff, double bass and soaring vocals, this track stands right alongside all the other US thrash at the time and, pretty much kicks all their asses. Guitar solo one minute into the song screams urgency and never lets your attention wander from the fray. One verse and a minute later is another solo! And then another solo! Gang vocals and yells adorn the chorus. Fucking spectacular. Best riffs, best lyrics - best song.

With so many positives and relatively few negatives, this is an excellent release for the time. Though it is less brutal than the other music coming out at this time, the pure thrash feel of the album with subtle inflections of the present musical landscape gives this album strong replay ability. Grade A thrash? Close, more like a B, B+. But grades only matter in the classroom. On the playground, the fastest and strongest rule. Sacred Death aren't the fastest and they aren't the strongest but they definitely wouldn't be picked last for kickball.

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