Review Summary: Perhaps the best album after Discharge's hardcore punk-led earlier years.
1993 was not the ideal year for a band to be playing thrash metal. Nor was it a year for bands as previously well renowned in the hardcore punk circuit as Discharge to be even attempting a re-imagining of their core sound. Thus, after the unsurprisingly mediocre Grave new World
, and its comeback-style successor Massacre Divine
, Discharge decided to take things into heavier, louder territory, even if it meant that the band's chaotic, hate-filled brand of hardcore punk would be for the most part ignored.
With their fifth album, the questionably titled Shootin' Up the World
, Discharge do indeed sound like a band looking to the future as opposed to the remains of the past. Gone was the glam metal-inspired sound of the late 80s, and replacing that was a heavier, more malevolent sound which had more than a few things in common with the more extreme end of the metal spectrum. Shootin'...
is considerably shorter than you would imagine a straightforward metal album to be at 31 measly minutes, and in this respect the Discharge spirit of 1981 hadn't yet been lost. Yet opening song “Manson Child” almost makes up a quarter of the running time, and unfortunately it goes on to prove as one of the more monotonous cuts from the album. It takes no less than ninety seconds to really get going, and once it does, the slow-burning heaviness isn't quite enough to make you nod your head violently. Instead, it is too slow and could easily have been much shorter had the band sped up twice as much instrumentally.
Thankfully the remaining songs, bar the rather pointless outro “Reprise”, offer much more in terms of eccentric musicianship and forward-thinking songwriting. For instance, the more thrash metal-oriented tracks like the title track and “Exiled in Hell” have a very audible and accessible sound, and at this point it's hard not to realize just why Discharge have been a big influence on metal's more extreme subgenres. The more punk-inspired tracks like “Leaders Deceivers” and the strangely titled “Never come to Care” also offer quite a lot in terms of adequate heaviness and speed, and in this respect it would seem like the band had never grown out of the early 80s.
However, there is one glaring flaw throughout the whole of the album. Trying to attempt a completely different vocal approach to the one that you have been used to for the last six or seven years isn't the most well-advised thing to do, yet it didn't seem to affect Cal's (AKA Kelvin Morris) decision turn his foul-mouthed ferocious bark into an almost high-pitched, yelping scream. Of course, it never seems to work, and especially with music of this sort. This is why Discharge were perhaps better off staying in their comfort zone, because had this been the case, the vocal delivery would have been spot on. This is also the reason why it's not the songs themselves that suffer, but the vocal performance on its own. Songs like “Lost in You” and “Psycho Active” (Check out Cal's repetitive screaming of 'Psycho Active Baby!' and see if you can't get tired of it after one listen) suffer enough as a result, but it's really when Cal attempts a more serious vocal tone, almost akin to that of Persistence of Time
-era Anthrax. Consequently songs like “Real live snuff” fail to keep the momentum of stronger songs up, and it's left to the very decent “Exiled in Hell” to regain some of Discharge's core advantages.
Nevertheless, Shootin' up the World
remains one of Discharge's best albums after their first era. The heaviness, noise and menacing intensity haven't been eschewed at all, and on their fifth album, the band still come across as very confident and promising. It's just a shame that after this album, Discharge would slowly deteriorate both creatively and musically. If you loved Discharge's earliest years, then this album will be hard to get into. If however, you are a fan of straightforward, no-nonsense heavy metal, then you may find it a very decent listen. For that reason alone, it remains an above average release in the band's history.