Review Summary: A fun, well-rounded thrash album, but unfortunately has not aged very well.
Leeway hail from Astoria, New York and was formed in 1984 by guitarist A.J. Novello and vocalist Eddie Sutton. They had hoped to stay firmly rooted in the Hardcore Punk scene at the time, but their debut album “Born to Expire” had marked their transition from a punk band into thrash metal, maybe even an earlier branch of metalcore. At the release of their debut, the band stood out from the rest of their contemporaries. The use of heavy guitar sounds and the fact that they paid attention to their tones and textures are clear differences to that of your average hardcore band at the time. Guitarist Novello had even claimed that his band had “killed hardcore” because of their experimentation.
Their debut, which received very little attention, had showed the bands potential as a crossover band. At the time where certain thrash classics were released, such as Metallica’s “…And Justice for All” and Megadeth’s “Rust in Peace,” Leeway’s debut seems incredible mediocre, but as an album on its own, it was decent thrash metal that would appease the purists. Born to Expire displayed some of the bands strongest tracks, such as the exhilarating “Enforcer” which showcases great riffs and continues at a galloping pace, similar to bands such as Testament. The song was also featured on the L.C.H.C radio station on GTA IV, a game from a series renowned for its spectacular music playlists.
Where Thrash bands at this time had begun to dabble in experimentation, Born to Expire had remained to be one of the most accessible thrash albums to come out. Tracks such as “Self-Defence” and “Tools of War” are forceful and electric, displaying the energy of the band. But when it comes apparent that nearly every song seems too similar and never trails away from overdone speedy chug-chug riffs and rapid gruff vocals, it all becomes rather tedious. Even though the overall musicianship is strong and there are riffs which will get your head banging, like the riff halfway into the last track “Unexpected,” it’s still nothing new, and it seems dated. There is relief with the song “Catholic High School (|Girls in Trouble) where the band experiment with funk and rap, with the metal guitars and funky bass in the background. It works well and it’s a shame that this is the only song like it on the whole album. This record hasn’t seemed to age well, whereas albums from Testament and Metallica have.
Really, today, this album is incredibly generic. Yes, it would please your average thrash/hardcore punk fans and purists, but it won’t be missed. However, back in the day, this album would’ve shown the band’s incredible energy and had advertised their potential. With this album, they have proven to be different from their hardcore contemporaries. It’s a shame that it means nothing now. Yes, this is a fun album to listen to, but there are many more other fun albums out there and this album does nothing to outclass them. But if you’re one of those thrash/hardcore purists mentioned earlier, it wouldn’t hurt to give this album a try, considering it is still a fun, well-rounded effort.