Review Summary: A short, fun early thrash album, with some skilful musicianship. The first half is great, but the second half drags due to quite unmemorable tracks.
Juggernaut was an American technical/progressive thrash metal band who formed in San Antonio, Texas in 1985. During 1986,the year Baptism Under Fire was released, the band played many shows including sold out shows with King Diamond. After originally being approached by Dave Richards of Azra/Iron Works Records with plans of releasing an EP, the quartet instead signed a deal with Metal Blade Records and went on to release two studio albums, Baptism Under Fire (1986) and Trouble Within (1987). Both feature guitarist Eddie Katilius who joined the group two weeks before the recording of 'Baptism Under Fire' was set to begin. Katilius is also the person wearing the WW2-era gas mask on the cover of 'Baptism Under Fire'.
Clocking in at around 34 minutes, the album is a short yet fun listen. Harlem Glenn has an interesting vocal range, he can do a melodic mid range but also had an entertaining sneer, such as towards the end of All Hallows' Eve. He was an avid fan of the New Wave of British heavy metal, and you can hear the influences in the album. The album has some short, fast tracks such as Burn Tonight and Cut Throat which are very well executed, and some longer (by comparison) songs such as Impaler and Rains of Death, which display a more progressive side to the band. The first track, Impaler, begins with a sinister intro warning a group of soldiers about what fate lies ahead, and then proceeds some nice clean guitar tones before ripping into the band's percussive speed metal. There is also a very nice guitar solo in the mid section. The first song is definitely one of the highlights of the album. You'll notice Eddie Katilus' sporadic but fun lead work which often bursts out when you aren't expecting it. Scott Womack is a skilled bassist and he's running circles around the rest of the band during the rhythm sections. He kicks off "Slow Death" with a flurry before the thrash triplets begin their pumping.The 4th song, Rains of Death is another interesting song, this time about biological warfare. I'm guessing that this is what the album cover is about.
After these first few songs, the album sort of blurs together and there aren't many more memorable moments for the album. The production is a very good quality through the album and everything is very clear. To conclude, Baptism Under Fire is a short, fun album though the first half of the album is better and more memorable than the second half. The second half isn't necessarily bad but is just not particularly memorable. The more progressive songs have some interesting lyrics, and the delivery is good and they are the more memorable songs.The musicians are all skilled, particularly the bassist, but the album seems to be lacking something.