Review Summary: Powerful, raw thrash metal which demonstrates extremely capable song writing and an element of sheer urban force.
Given the polish of Beg To Differ
, it's somewhat hard to believe that it came only 2 years after the comparatively primitive Force Fed, which showed an energetic but imprecise band with some decent but unexceptional songwriting, all in a badly mixed and muffled package that didn't provide much credit to the band's urban thrash sound. Likewise, the album following Beg To Differ, Prove You Wrong, doesn't really resemble it too much either, with a series of industrial influences and eclectic songwriting that produced a solid, if muddled follow up, while the following Cleansing marked a clear move towards alternative metal. Beg To Differ doesn't even quite resemble a more typical thrash release, with a bit more variety in overall mood than most, as well as groovier songwriting, but it is unquestionably an excellent album with a lot for a fan of metal to appreciate, with great riffs and songs.
Instrumentally the album follows a thrash direction, but with some subtle influences and elements from other genres. Tommy Victor's guitar work is heavily directed by the thrash sound, with punishing downpicking and pinch harmonics, but with less self-conscious technicality, as well as a clear sense of groove and primal power (comparable to that of some post-punk bands, like Killing Joke
, New Model Army
) that is assisted by bassist Mike Kirkland and drummer Ted Parsons. The former doesn't deviate much from Victor's guitar work but is extremely tight to it, providing a rock solid rhythm for him to play against, while Ted is somewhat more technical with his playing, with a good variety of beat patterns that are consistently rock solid on timing. This general tightness makes the band more groovy than the majority of their contemporaries and helps to keep the songwriting entertaining. Tommy's vocals are solid, with a simple but effective thrash shout that suits the music perfectly.
Throughout the album there's a good variety in the songwriting displayed. From strait ahead thrashers such as the violently powerful opener, For Dear Life
, to slightly more experimental songs like Your Fear
, there's a lot present to keep the album listenable to the end. The former manages to mix some of the most aggressive songwriting on the album with an extremely catchy set of riffs that allow it to be fairly simple throughout without sacrificing any potential entertainment value. The directly succeeding track, Steady Decline
, also follows a more typical thrash direction, but with some more upbeat sections that help to keep the variety strong in the track. Other tracks such as Right To Nothing
and Just The Same
vaguely follow this direction, but tracks such as the titular one demonstrate an atypical side, with groovier riffs coupled with some more varied guitar work, with some clean and lightly overdriven sections applied alongside the aggressive riffing of the other tracks. Other tracks show downright enigmatic sound, such as Intermenstrual, D.S.B.
, with wailing harmonics and arpeggios used. The album closes with a live cover of Chrome
's Third From The Sun
, which works effectively and doesn't feel too jarring, perhaps due to the band's post-punk influences.
Despite the strengths of the album, there are clear weaknesses. The production is pretty good for the most part, but the drum sound is rather unsatisfying, comparable to the sound found on Exodus
's Impact Is Imminent
, with a snare sound that mismatches the overall tone of the other instruments while also sounding quite choppy, all in a package that's too high in the mix. There's also a lot of opportunities for more technical riffs that would have worked in limited quantities, as the overall riffing style can become quite tiresome, despite being quite catchy initially. Overall, this is a minor classic of the thrash metal scene, with entertaining songwriting and riffs, while also demonstrating a capacity for groove and experimentation.
For Dear Life
Beg To Differ