Shrapnel 1984 / 2013
The Bay Area Metal obscure classic gets revitalized and augmented with rarities featuring a future METALLICA bassist.
Largely forgotten today, this quintet might be a precursor to the thrash and speed metal heroes of ’80s California, what with Cliff Burton snatched from TRAUMA’s original line-up by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich for greatness and eternity. Like the latter, guitarist Michael Overton and singer Donny Hillier were in thrall to NWOBHM, and the band’s only LP, laid down after the bassist left, is up with the best of them, marrying weighty clang to entrancing tunes. Albeit “The Day All Hell Broke Loose” introduces a patinated production to one’s ears, the cut’s chorus comes as catchy as hell, and a new four-stringer, Lucas Advincula provides much bottom-end buzz throughout, very palpably on the surge of “In The End” while Overton and the second axeman, Ross Alexander Merson, trade fiery licks on “Bringin’ The House Down” and powerfully orchestrate the album’s title track.
“The Flight Of The Raven” closes it all in a standout, epic manner, more progressive than straightforwardly heavy, although riffs are aplenty there to flesh out its folk foundation before shattering it to pieces thanks to the drum work of Kris Gustofson who’d land in ST. ELMO’S FIRE once TRAUMA had run their course. Yet while it was the end, this welcome reissue is expanded with three bonuses where Burton’s bass rumbles, and they’re short of breathtaking, especially when he plants a protracted solo on the blues-based charge of “We’re Going Off” with its tentative harmonica translated to guitar or when the while group turn mellifluous for “Woman Be Gone” which unfolds a delicate drama before fading into history. It’s there that the band belong now.