Review Summary: Ripped straight from the heart of the 1980's, Whiplash's debut album shows a young band practically exploding with energy and rage.
After the explosion of thrash metal in the early 1980's, bands were seemingly popping up out of nowhere. The west coast was seen as the birthplace and capital of the movement due to the formation of early bands such as Metallica, Slayer and Exodus in and around California. Shortly after the underground success of Kill 'Em All and Show No Mercy, it seemed as if the genre was drowning in an endless sea of thrash acts. The East coast was no exception. Led by fledgling metal act Anthrax, bands such as Overkill, Nuclear Assault, and Whiplash entered the fray.
Formed in New Jersey in 1984, Whiplash were never 'by any means' a successful act. The band's most popular album was their very first record, and they remained an underground act for their entire career. The band's debut effort entitled “Power and Pain” was released in the fall of 1985. The album itself showed a young but impressively talented band that had a knack for thrashing hard, and doing it with a take no prisoners attitude. The album is a ferocious combination of heavy, thunderous and fast material that never falls below a mid to high tempo. There is literally no break here, no moment to catch your breath, once this album starts thrashing, it doesn't stop until the end of the closing track.
Power and Pain boasts some really killer riffs that hold your attention without overuse, and the album has plenty of hectic sounding solos spread throughout. The drum work is also top notch and relatively creative, with several tracks sporting some inventive fills and patterns. However, not all is well here. At times the album can sound jumbled together, as if lacking any distinct direction. Some riffs, albeit good riffs, run together in rather awkward ways. The production is also somewhat shoddy, (as with many thrash albums of this time) and this poor production can soften the albums blow. If you're like me though, this old production gives the album a dirty and raw feel that only adds to the heaviness. The vocals compliment the band's heavy style, as they sound pretty guttural and pissed off. The only problem to be found with the vocals would be the distinct lack of variation and tone. In other words, the vocalist sounds the same throughout the entirety of the album, only utilizing brutal screams and shouts.
By the end of the record, I got the impression that this album was far too short. It clocks in at a mere 34 minutes, and leaves you wanting more. For this reason, the album has a relatively high replay value. This is an album that is not for the faint of heart. Power and Pain never relents, and never stops thrashing. Progressive snobs beware: this is thrash in its most primal and brutal form. Check this out if you like your metal fast and aggressive.