Review Summary: Fans of 80s thrash better perk up and find this demo because it is what has been missing in your life.
Let's face it, Sadus never amounted to much. In fact, I dare say they declined with each subsequent release as they tried to please critics who complained they were too one-dimensional. The Death to Posers
demo is about as one-dimensional as you can get, and it is absolutely fantastic: Six tracks of blazing-fast thrash metal played with a fierce conviction rarely heard since. This was 1986, the middle-age of American thrash and Sadus were up-and-comers and on their demo they sound young and full of piss and vinegar. Though many of these tunes would be reprised on Illusions / Chemical Exposure
, here they are played with more raw power and a touch of sloppy angst which adds to the appeal.
The real difference between this and the first LP is Darren Travis' vocal performance. Though Travis would always be the standout element of Sadus, on the DTP demo he is truly at his most maniacal. Have you heard the phrase "he bled like a stuck pig"" Well Travis literally sings like one. His shrieks and screeches add a element of crazy that makes Varg's rants on Burzum
sound toned down in comparison. Nowhere is this showcased more than on the demo's centerpiece "Kill Team" where Travis slips in and out of snarls and near-squeaks. It is guaranteed to be unlike anything you've heard. His pained bleating in "Desolator" nearly hurts to listen to. Though Travis would continue his vocals in this fashion, one assumes a few attempts at reproducing this voice night after night on tour led to the toning down on the subsequent albums.
Jon Allen punishes the drum kit with a hurried and pressured haste. It sounds as though he is rushing the rest of the musicians - remaining a fraction of a beat ahead of them at all times. Though this leads to the demo sounding a tad sloppy, it truly adds to its overall manic vibe and in the end, the band would (and will) suffer from a more restrained performance. Steve DiGiorgio rounds out the rhythm section and is probably the only underwhelming element on this recording. While Steve would prove himself ten times over on other albums and with his work with Death and other projects, here he delivers a very straight performance which is mixed low like your average thrash metal bass.
Darren Travis pairs up with Rob Moore for Sadus' twin guitar assault. They wear their Slayer influence on their sleeves throughout the demo, particularly during the high-speed solos (case in point 1:50 into "Fight or Die"). The riffing is firmly planted in early 80s thrash metal and while it is by no means groundbreaking or cutting edge, it is played with that previously mentioned savage conviction that makes this demo so gripping.
In 2003, Hammerheart Records had the wisdom to release this beast and added the two track Certain Death
demo on as a bonus. These two tracks consist of a 5+ minute competent but uneventful instrumental, and a rather restrained version of "Hand of Fate" which would later be vastly improved upon on Illusions
. While I understand adding this demo to the commercial release, the performance of the two late tracks cannot compare to the sheer angst of the preceding 6.
If you have exposure to Sadus but are not familiar with their early work, you owe it to yourself to hear this demo. Any fan of early 80s thrash will marvel at this quartet's speed and ferocity. It is truly a pity they ever bothered to listen to the critics and attempt to change their sound to appeal to a wider audience. This slab is the one of the finest 16 and a half minutes of Slayer-esque madness out there... You better be listening to it now.