Review Summary: In short this album displays the full range of Sadus's abilities as a band, and was their creative peak.
To this day, Sadus remains one of the most underrated American thrash metal bands in history. However through the course of their career, they released a slew of pioneering and innovative albums that were far ahead of their time. Though the vast majority of metalheads claim that bands like metallica, megadeth, and slayer were the ultimate representation of the thrash metal genre, as well as it's chief innovators, bands like Sadus were far more advanced, not only in terms of musicianship, but in talent, and versatility as well, as their Transition from Raw, unrestrained death-thrash, to Technical Death Metal/Thrash clearly shows.
Before reviewing the album, first i would like to speak about the progress of the band up to this point. In a fashion very similar indeed to early metallica, and Death, Sadus, was becoming more complex, more sophisticated and more progressive with each album, although far more drastic in comparison to the other bands mentioned. Starting out with a very raw sounding debut, that was anything but restrained, Sadus showed clear signs of improvement with their next album, Swallowed In Black. The band started to incorporate more technical riffs, and more complex time signatures into their music, without loosing any of their ferocity. With their well-known bass god Steve Digiorgio, Sadus stuck out from the pact, with thundering lead guitar-like fretless bass lines, and almost incomprehensible complexity, Sadus caught the attention of Chuck Shuldiner (R.I.P), who later recruited Steve to record Death's Human album. Impressed by his performace, Chuck would use Steve once again. With the experience Steve gained from recording Human, with long-time Sadus supporter Chuck Schuldiner, and the rest of the Sadudes pursuing an even more complex direction than their previous album, it was clear that their next album would be their most ambitious, most advanced, and arguably, their creative peak.
1992 would see the release of Sadus's third full-length album, A Vision of Misery. Released in a year when many long-time thrash metal bands were trading thrash for groove, and originality for mainstream appeal, Sadus was getting more complex, more ambitious, and more mature, without moving away from their roots as a Death/Thrash band, although this release would be more death metal oriented than anything they released before or since. With a new since of inspiration and velocity and better equipment, Sadus entered the studio to record this monumental achievement for both Death, and Thrash metal.
Compared to all of their previous works, their third album boasts the best production the band ever had, which only helps enhance the bands sound, and gave them a clarity that previous albums lacked. This is Cleary displayed in the blistering opener, through the eyes of greed, which obviously shows the use of better recording techniques and equipment, which allows the nearly flawless performance of the band to fully audible. As I stated earlier, the maturity of the band is strikingly evident, as all of the compositions on the album show better musicianship, and more variety. Take for instance the first song, which starts out like a typical Sadus track, and then slows down, into a chugging, ultra technical riff fest further enhanced with very prominent bass licks from Steve. Gone is the reckless, "full speed ahead" style of illusions. Instead, the band focuses on being more elaborate. Every song is full of time changes, and stays away from conventional songs structures. Songs like Valley Of Dry Bones, are among the most epic Death Metal songs ever recorded, with a ferocity that bands such as Morbid Angel could only attempt to match, and a intricacy and complexity that Megadeth could only dream of composing. What i like more is the bizarre sound effects used many of the albums songs, such as the "factory noise" in Machines. Better still is the prog tendencies of each song, which keeps the music from being one-dimensional, and makes the music more interesting. The band can go from extremely fast to slow and back again without warning, and at the drop of a hat. Every song should satisfy fans of every style, from straight forward brutality, to complex and technical. A Vision of Misery displays the full range of Sadus's capabilities as a band.
In addition, Sadus also seems to have matured lyrically as well, in a similar way to death. Instead of merely crushing the weak (in your face), bad acid trips (illusions), and killing posers (torture), the band focuses more on political and personal issues, picking of from where Swallowed in Black left off. Take for instance facelift, which speaks of the poverty and discrimination, and through the eyes of greed, which is self-explanatory. This is in sharp contrast to others, such as slayer, who still relied on topics like Satanism, and demons in they’re lyrics. Sadus were more about provoking thought, instead of rather immature displays of rage.
As we all know (hopefully), Steve Digiorgio is the man when it comes to the bass, and his performance on a vision of misery does not disappoint. In fact, on this album, he is even more prevalent than before, and occasionally begins songs on the album with bass lines that become the basis for the entire song. He plays his bass as if it is a third guitar for the band, and on many occasions, it seems as if the band's two guitarist Darren Travis, and Rob Moore, are following Steve's lead. Steve really shows what he's made of here, and any fans of his bass playing shouldn’t miss this album.
John Allen, the drummer of the band has also shown some clear improvement, with ever more complex drumming patterns and an increased use of double-bass. Still he more Straight forward side is still present, in songs like Valley of Dry Bones, and Under The Knife, one of which featuring two very intense blast-beats. He proves that he can easily compete with drummers such as Gene Holgan, or Pete Sandoval.
Darren Travis, also steps up quite a bit as a vocalist. On this album he recorded some of his most brutal vocals yet, while still being very listenable. Instead of his earlier high-pitched shrieking style, Darren starts to incorporate death growls, similar (although more extreme) to that of evil Chuck. His ability to compose extremely technical guitar riffs is also displayed, with many of them sounding similar to Death, Pestilence, and Gorguts. Probably the best example of the is the closing riffs of Through the eyes of Greed, which is an amazing feat in it's own right. For the Second guitarist, Rob Moore, I believe this was his apex in writing solos. His style was very unique, and as ambitious as the album, with experimental sounding leads, and solos, such as the Egyptian sounding solo on Machines.
In the 1991-1992 period, which saw Half-Thrash, and groove metal albums, this was a very unique and much needed addition to the now stagnating thrash scene, and far superior to most releases at the time. This album was without a doubt, the most sophisticated Sadus album, as well as one of the most technical Death/Thrash metal albums of all time. Sadly, like all of their work, it was too far ahead of times, and underappreciated. Sadus was responsible for some of the most technical and intricate compositions in metal, and this album displays them at the full potential, although I still prefer the youthful aggression of their previous works. The Spartan musicianship shown on this album proves why they were much more sophisticated, and more capable than many of their peers. Although their influence has been shown in many technical death metal bands, including Death, Sadus remains largely undiscovered by many fans of both Death and Thrash metal. It is bands like this that were the true pioneers of thrash, and helped it evolve and transition into death metal.