Review Summary: Malicious Intent – Adjective; Motivated by wrongful or mischievous purposes.
The above expression is almost universally associated with negative connotations; when it comes to music the same can be said for the term formulaic. Canadian speed metal masters Razor return in 1986 with another consistent if not formulaic release for the band. As stated, there is nothing wrong with sticking to your guns, especially when they are .50 caliber thrash cannons loaded with enough riffs to take out the population of a small city. On their 4th release (or 5th if one includes the self-released Escape the Fire) the band is firing on all cylinders here; and Malicious Intent is another stellar release in one of metal’s most consistent discographies.
The album starts out with a few words of encouragement from Stace ‘Sheepdog’ McLaren before the sonic assault absolutely rips out your spinal cord and plays it like a xylophone. The demonic howls and near horror movie level shrieks he produces? Unworldly; if this were produced in 2014 I would call shenanigans on his vocal abilities. ‘Sheepdog’ sounds like a slightly drunk Chuck Billy had oral sex with Paul Baloff and somehow spawned a slightly accented child. As much as Dave Carlo absolutely shreds all over this release, McLaren’s vocals make the early work from Razor a mandatory listening experience. 30 seconds into this album and the listener knows exactly what they are in for.
Lead Guitarist (and primary songwriter) Carlo is un-relenting with the break-neck riffage that sets pace on this release. Joining him are Mike Campagnolo on bass (when you can hear it) and Mike Embro on the drums. The bass is everything you have come to love from mid-eighties thrash and speed metal; basically non-existent. Which could be an absolute shame, as a little bottom end may have given this album the boost it needed to shine a little bit more. That being said between Carlo’s guitar, Embro blasting away on the kit and McLarens banshee howls, the bass is a little (read : almost completely) lost here. One of the few tracks that it does stand out is on ‘High Speed Metal’. It is a three and a half minute shred-fest that features more bass than the rest of the album and a near death metal delivery from McLaren.
One thing that really drives an album for me are the drummers (and producers) ability to make sure what I am listening to sounds like it was made by an actual human. An issue with many modern releases is the over-production of the drum kit. Campagnolo from Razor has no such issue here. His manic, high-speed playing sounds like he is physically assaulting the drum kit. Every second here has a beautiful human quality to it, and his playing fits perfectly; blemishes and all. The production from Waxworks studio is flawless in its simplicity and works perfectly with the band’s sound and attitude. Slightly low-brow and childish, it comes across over almost 30 years later that the band had fun making this record.
It does not exist without flaws, as minute as they are. The production can be too flat at times, which leaves the single guitar from Carlo sounding rather thin. Couple that with lack of any low end presence and sometimes minimal drum fills and you have some sore sports that stick out like a… well a sore thumb. Lyrically, we are not talking about content here, and as good as this is one can listen to any of the three albums that came before it and hear basically the same thing. As I stated earlier consistency can be a blessing and a curse to some fans. That being said though, this band being consistent is something I will listen to all damn day. So grab your friends and a few beers, crank this *** and bang some skulls like it was 1986 all over again!