Review Summary: Forbidden in their prime, with a technical and melodic edge.
Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, Forbidden formed in 1985 amidst a sea of other thrash bands. The band is often considered part of the second wave of thrash, and their debut "Forbidden Evil" is considered a classic among fans of the genre. Forbidden were never particularly mainstream, but the band did find some moderate success during the peak of thrash metal in the late 80's and to a lesser extent in the early 90's. A five piece band, Forbidden sound much like some of their bay-area counterparts such as Exodus and Testament, electing to play simple yet energy driven form of thrash.
The 1990 follow-up to the band's debut sees the band growing and evolving musically. Songwriting has been tightened up considerably, as the music found here is far more technical and melodic, while still retaining an overall heavy sound. The album also boasts some of the band strongest performances, with songs like "Infinite" and "Tossed Away" showcasing some pretty strong and borderline catchy choruses that the debut lacked. The album also has a much darker feel to it, sounding rather ominous and eerie, yet still aggressively menacing like the debut. Surprisingly enough, this album also included some acoustic instrumentals. The acoustic tracks aren't fillers, but sound rather haunting yet beautiful, and fit with the overall feel of other tracks on the record. Each track on the album transitions well with one another, with none of the songs sounding out of place. Honestly it's quite hard to find issue with an album of this caliber, however there is one flaw that is unmistakably obvious to those who have heard the debut; this album lacks the same raw energy and confidence that made "Forbidden Evil" so enjoyable. Regardless, the band made up for this in many ways as previously mentioned.
The band also gave some really stellar performances. The vocals have improved considerably, with vocalist Russ Anderson sounding as strong as ever and being able to hold a note with the best of them. His performance can sort of remind one of Joey Belladonna of Anthrax fame. The guitar playing is also far more technical and melodic. Although original lead guitarist Glenn Alvelais had left the band, new guitarist Tim Calvert is a definitively skilled guitarist as well. The guitars manage to sound on par with "Forbidden Evil", if not slightly better and the album boasts some truly astounding solos and clever riffs that sound very good indeed. The drums are also another strong point here, as drummer Paul Bostaph gives a truly superb performance that will keep you listening. Of course not a lot of emphasis is placed on the bass as is the case with most thrash metal. However one can still hear the bass chugging along throughout the record. Fellow Bay-Area thrash band Death Angel even made an appearance, performing backing vocals on "Out of Body" and "R.I.P."
As i said before, it’s hard to find fault with a record of this caliber. This album shows the band in their prime musically, as well as successfully. Albums like this only come around once in a while and when they do, we should all do our best to give them a listen. This album is perfect for fans of thrash with a technical side, and for newcomers as well. Highly recommended.
Russ Anderson - vocals
Tim Calvert - guitar
Craig Locicero - guitar
Matt Camacho - bass
Paul Bostaph - drums
Produced by: Michael Rosen
Engineered by: Michael Rosen, Mike Semanick
Mastered by: Howie Weinberg
Label: Combat/Relativity Records