Recorded in Fias Co Prod Studios, May–July Year 21 by Audiopain. Mastered by Tom Flaske Kvalsvoll at Strype Audio. Cover art and layout by Espen Geitsund. Released on Vendlus Records 2007.
Before I say anything else about this album, I have to say one thing: this CD has one of the most unreadable inlay booklets I’ve ever had to decypher! My study isn’t the brightest of rooms in the winter so when I flicked open the booklet I was surprised to see what essentially looked like six blank, black pages. It wasn’t until I angled the booklet towards my monitors that I saw there was something printed onto it in an ink so dark that, unless I’m very much mistaken, only guide-dogs will be able to read it.
So, on to the music. Audiopain are a modern, old school thrash band hailing from Oslo in a Norway. And I’m not kidding when I say ‘old school thrash’. This short (26 minutes 49 seconds) album reminds me of that burst of energy that was the emergence of thrash back in the early- to mid-80s: that fusion of the heaviness of metal and the brashness and energy of punk. There are elements of early Slayer in here, as well as other thrash stalwarts: Anthrax, Exodus, Kreator, Metallica, Sabbat, and Voivod.
I read one review which described this album as “the ultimate tranquillizer”, a watered down collection of “unintelligent riffs, annoying vocals, and nasty production”. Personally, I think that reviewer completely missed the charm of this album: it perfectly recreates that early thrash sound. This album doesn’t have the warm depth of a modern Andy Sneap-produced album, this has the scooped-mid of Kill ’em All (1983) or Show No Mercy (1983).
Opener ‘Hellbound’ is a blend of Slayer meets Metallica. The opening riff is like something from Reign in Blood (1986) fused with Kill ’em All (1983). Vocals are barked early Voivod-like.
The title track “The switch to turn off mankind” opens with a simple thrashing riff, more in keeping with Hell Awaits (1985). A couple of minutes in the pace slows down with an South of Heaven (1988) style riff.
Track three, “Holy toxic” is more of the same, to be honest. A few times I’ve played this album and I’ve not noticed that the previous track had ended and new one begun.
“Termination fields” has that classic metal dual-guitar intro: a simple riff that is emphasised on the fourth bar by drums and guitar: CHUG-chug CHUG-chug! This Judas Priest meets Metallica. It morphs into an Megadeth-meets-Exodus-like riff. And then more Voivod- or even Exodus-like vocals. It’s by far the best song on this short album.
“Alliance” brings out more Megadeth-style riffs, the influence of which spills over a little into the album closer “Cobra dance”. It’s another song that trundles along at one pace for a few minutes before slowing to a grind. Drums and Cliff Burton-style overdriven bass carve out a groove before Show No Mercy-style guitars weave a melody through it to the song’s conclusion.
This is an album of influences. In places more than a nod of the head to the titans and founders of thrash, but it doesn’t feel contrived and it all somehow works. This sounds like an album that comes from the heart where the band’s love of thrash just somehow spills out of them. Sure some of the riffs could be more interesting or more original but there’s a passion that is evident, almost tangible about the playing on this album. And that’s what I quite like about it, really.
This is a keeper for me. Not so much Audiopain as Audiopleasure.
Review score: 75%