Review Summary: An eclectic and surprising path for these Canadian geezers.
There's change, and then there's change
, and then there's Razor, a Canadian thrash band right in the middle, who looked at the state of their albums being cranked out in the 1980's and said "you know what we don't have enough of? Progressive rock" (In this case, progressive thrash, but f*ck logic). Which is a statement that, back then, might of proved to be ridiculous for a band whos enterprise thrives on massively amusing lyrics and fast-paced thrash riffs: in advance, it would of been a sh*tty decision, had it not been done right. And yet, Custom Killing
sure as hell did it, even with a lack of grace or restraint. As an album that never really needed to exist in the first place, it acquits itself very well, approaching a relatively eclectic subject tolerably well.
For one thing, Custom Killing is certainly a long endeavor, for Razor: at forty-six minutes, it is certainly longer than any album they've made. Killing braves a good deal of its time to two particular segments, both of which are fairly glorious works of technique for a thrash band: the eleven minute tracks, opener Survival of the Fittest
and Last Rites
, and then placing those adjacent with a handful of three to five minute thrash songs to back them up: very much like a progressive rock album. In that vein, Custom Killing is assembled perfectly, spacing out the best moments even when they begin early. Survival of the Fittest
is an ideal opener, that begins building up for a discrete chunk of five minutes with very gloomy riffage and bold bass lines by Mike Campagnolo, before it picks up motion and becomes more of a standard Razor fare, excluding the lyrics, which are vaguely futuristic and mysterious: "Victims of technology, trapped in future plans / Acting without asking, won't meet our demands / Stuck walking the straight line, opinions overthrown: deep inside we feel it, chills us to the bone". Last Rites
is just as fine, too, using a devilishly precise and handsome keyboard intro with guitars and bass before it builds into a track, with Sheepdog giving his finest vocal performance on the album, highlighting all the bombast and swagger the delicious eleven minutes contains:
The thunder slows to a fade
My cold eyes staring to the edge of the silver
Lightning strikes the blade
The tension's in the air tonight
The night sky tempts the dare
I can feel the distant fight
You're nearing from out there
The silence of my second sight
And that's enough to give it a recommendation: but that's not quite enough to answer the question: is the rest of the album good? Yes and no. The songs that are mixed between these two epic pieces range from tepid to alright to really fine, but the ones that are tepid and alright hurt the album in an unusually aggressive way. Shootout
is perhaps the most amusing of the six 'smaller' tracks, featuring a very big, bouncy riff and very macho lyrics that show off just how f*cking muscular the dude is, ("Is your pistol loaded? ain't no room for buts / Strangers eye to eye, hope you've got the guts
") and also featuring a very nice guitar solo near the end. Snake Eyes
is a monstrously dumbass track that features a wholly pointless intro of, like Howard Wolowitz talking in an Indian voice, at least it would be if Howard wasn't such a gay retard and that's why he wouldn't be featured on this. Forced Annihilation
and White Noise
are both relatively fine speeders, the former featuring a damningly familiar, stomping 'da-da-dumdum
' thrash riff and drumming (by Mike Embro, who does a great job here) and the latter having a very slick bass riff under an odd time signature for a thrash song, and a fine guitar solo in the middle: it lures your attention but doesn't quite steal it. There is also the massively pointless Russian Ballet
, a monstrously f*ckin' stupid ditty that ends before it's even supposed to be registered as a comic song, but it helps that it's placed next to Forced Annihilation
, a very standard rendition of Razor, which is imperiously a compliment.
Even if it features phonemes like "the sweeties", "showbiz", and "Jolly Roger".
So on the whole, Custom Killing is a very revitalized sound, one that most people didn't ask for and certainly didn't expect. There are several good moments of thrash and pure progressive rock, in particular the two staggeringly great, 11-minute whoppers and the occasional, disarming smaller track that adds as a seasoning to those whoppers. It has flaws, certainly, but they're minor or easily ignored enough that Custom Killing is still a genuinely good album, as creative and thrashin' as ever, if not a bit more than the LPs before it.