RADIATION SICKNESS (U.S.) “Reflections of a Psychotic Past” CD review by www.rawnervezine.co.uk

RADIATION SICKNESS (U.S.) “Reflections of a Psychotic Past” CD review by www.rawnervezine.co.uk

By Martin Harris

A tale of two genres as death metal and crossover meet, the new material is punishing promising death metal

The Abyss records roster is packed with top quality bands covering a myriad of styles in extreme metal. Astonishingly Radiation Sickness was formed in 1987 and was really spawned at the time when crossover was the new thing thrash, with a plethora of bands jumping the thrash ship in favour of the trendier crossover style. A pack of demos, EPs and splits between 1988 and 1990 ensued, marred by the suicide of founder Ryan Rollins to depression in 1989, but still managing to continue with new members until the band folded in 1992. Fast forward 18 years and RS reformed in 2010 for a reunion show, which must have gone down well with the result being a new album some 20 years on from their last output. The only original band member is Doug Palmer on vocals with new talent being added for the recording of “Reflections Of A Psychotic Past” an album that is really split into two sections, the first being seven new songs that make up the album itself plus a remastered version of the bands “The Other Me – A Journey Into Insanity” EP from 1990.   So onto the new stuff which is brutal and grizzled in sound and kicks off with the title track which clocks in at less than 90 seconds. The vocals have that Martin Van Drunen (Asphyx) terror about their tone, not quite screamed but enough power and ferocity to melt steel. I’m never quite certain that sound samples work in between songs, the last album I liked that did this well was Aborted’s “Engineering The Dead” but this is just a personal preference as “Demented Love Song 2” is grind like initially and drops momentarily to a Slayer riff and the first signs of the bands roots appear by way of a thrash like structure and beat plus a more shouted vocal line. The thrash tag is lost on “Tripping In The Seas Of Madness” which demonstrates a nice catchy vibe and straight pummelling death metal riff and blast. “Graveside View” offers more of the grind I hinted at earlier but this is far from true grind, more to do with the way the song sounds, which on the drum sound borders that clanging snare I find annoying, though I’m being super critical here.   “Erif Ti Pu” is Obituary like death metal, though with blast episodes added for that little bit of extra ferocity. I do wonder when bands have been absent from the scene whether they keep up with what is happening or has happened, as the similarities to other acts is always going to be prevalent whether the band realises it or not. As I said previously this album is a case of two halves with “Erif Ti Pu” ending the new songs and shifting the album into the 1990 release of “The Other Me – A Journey Into Insanity” EP which has been remastered for inclusion here. Now not having heard the bands early days and with this being remastered I can’t compare how the two differ or are similar but one thing is for sure this is not death metal.   Crossover music in the mid 80s was a bit of bugbear with me as it tried to hold onto the thrash audience but gain new fans from the massive hardcore scene that was around from the US, as opposed to the Euro hardcore variety which was far more coarse and more akin to punk and crust, than purist hardcore. In terms of old 80s hardcore I certainly loved the scene, invested in a number of releases and focussed my attention on bands like Attitude Adjustment, Crumbsuckers, The Accüsed, Minor Threat, Cryptic Slaughter to name the major protagonists of the time. Listening to this EP and it is clear that Radiation Sickness was up there with the best of them, with copious amount of bass lines being linked together by short hardcore, ok crossover, riff styles. The vocals were manic, but perfect for the chaotic undertone on the songs. The bass work is very like DRI on their sell out “Crossover” album, though the short blast insertions used are very like the awesome Cryptic Slaughter. Any of the tunes can be compared to the forerunners of the scene back then with “Ruthless” and “Man Made Production” possessing hardcore insanity and thrash riffing complexity equally, which is no easy task. “No Future” has that ominous slow start before the bruising bass hook and subsequent maniacal drum work. “Escape To Insanity” actually starts like Suicidal’s “Institutionalized” song from the self titled debut, even the spoken vocal style is close, but as it progresses I am reminded of yet another nutcase band, but this time from Germany the short lived Chronical Diarrhoea, yes I am being serious, check them out on Metal Archives, (the “Salomo Says” album is mental).   I am faced with a dilemma at this point because the two separate components that make up “Reflections Of A Psychotic Past” are so different I am finding myself drawn more to the older material than the new stuff due to my past life affectations with hardcore. Aside of my own dilemma the music on offer is a before and after and the after should be the focus and for that the release is strong with plenty of creativity displayed that hold steadfast for the next release which won’t be too long hopefully. I wonder if the band will be playing the old stuff with the death metal material live, now that is something I would like watch.

Review link: www.rawnervezine.co.uk/music-reviews/radiation-sickness-–-reflections-of-a-psychotic-past

Radiation Sickness links:

Booking Agent: indycardoug38@yahoo.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RadiationDoug

Reverbnation: www.reverbnation.com/radiationdoug

Last fm: www.last.fm/music/Radiation+Sickness

Abyss Records links:

Label & Online Music Store: www.officialabyssrecords.com

Myspace: www.myspace.com/abyssrecordsofficial

Facebook: www.facebook.com/OfficialAbyssRecords

Reverbnation: www.reverbnation.com/label/abyssrecords

Last fm: www.last.fm/label/AbyssRecords

Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/MinionfortheAbyss

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AbyssRecords

To purchase RADIATION SICKNESS “Reflections of a Psychotic Past” CD and other RADIATION SICKNESS merchandise go to: www.officialabyssrecords.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=radiation+sickness

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