Review Summary: One of the hidden treasures of the late, classic thrash metal era. Varied songwriting, excellent musicianship and a fresh sound should make this a valued item in any metal collection.
So, let me get started with my very first album review. I promise that I will try to keep it short and simple.
This 1989 release is the third album by New Jersey thrashers Whiplash and quite possibly their most ambitious and coherent effort. Their previous two releases “Power and Pain” (1985) and “Ticket to Mayhem” (1987) are very interesting in their own right, sounding like a blend of Exodus and Slayer with a Hardcore icing. But it seems that only with “Insult to Injury” the band had completed their development into a group of great, creative musicians.
Overall, the songwriting on ITI is impressively varied and the album is filled with prog-thrash tendencies á la Megadeth’s “Rust in Peace”, making ITI an interesting listen over and over again. At the same time, Whiplash do not excessively display their technical abilities, which still keeps most of the songs rather catchy. Songs are mostly mid-tempo, however, with many changing time signatures and the occasional thrash explosion. The title song “Insult to Injury” and “Pistolwhipped” can be considered pure in-your-face thrashers. There is a pleasant natural flow between the songs that is perhaps only interrupted by the album’s two slightly weaker songs “Dementia Thirteen” and “Rape of the Mind”. All in all, I find it impressive how much variety they have packed into just under 37 minutes of running time – while, at the same time, keeping it thrashy throughout the album.
The instrumentation and production are top notch and the excellent guitar work of Tony Portaro is one of the main reasons of the album’s high quality. His sophisticated and varied play keep the listener hooked, always making sure of sounding catchy enough. Check out the title track and the nice instrumental “Ticket to Mayhem/4 E.S.”, for instance. The drums and bass definitely live up to the high bar set by the guitar section. Drummer Joe Cangelosi displays a tight performance, embracing the complex song structures well. Bassist Tony Bono shines through creative, almost jazzy play, underlined by the nicely audible bass lines – which for me in general is a great thing to have in a metal song.
New singer Glenn Hansens’ vocal work is more melodic and high-pitched than on Whiplashs’ previous efforts – a comparison with Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna is maybe not entirely out of place. Glenn’s voice accentuates the music well. In fact, I think he has the right voice for this album and arrived just on time. As with so many other metal bands, however, for some listeners the vocals might just not work well here.
To sum up, any metalhead who appreciates great musicianship and interesting song writing, and is not afraid of a fresh and somewhat unique sound in thrash metal should check out this album.
Insult to Injury
Witness to the Terror
Ticket to Mayhem/4 E.S.