EARLY MAN DO RE-THRASH RIGHT WITH BEWARE THE CIRCLING FIN EP
I don’t know what all the people who weren’t around for Thrash’s first run in the Eighties think about the sudden resurgence of the style but I’ve had mixed feelings about it. I really missed traditional Thrash throughout the Nineties and…Oughts (is that what we’re supposed to call them?). Sure, Thrash never really died and there have always been elements of classic Thrash in many of the acts that play Metal today regardless of the sub-or-microgenre with which they are associated; but having come of age in the early to mid Eighties and having been there for the dominant rise of this kind of music I never wanted it to diminish in popularity. Yet it did and there were new styles to take its place. The old acts that established the framework have kept going only to prove, for the most part, that Thrash Metal is a game best utilized through youth. And maybe my mixed feelings regarding all these young acts revolves around the fact that I’m not getting any younger either. It’s neither fresh or exciting to me nor does it further the Metal cause so much as derivatively reflect the glory years. Even so, I’ll be the first to stand up and trumpet that charging “lack of originality” against an act is disingenuous considering that every band carries its influences with them regardless of whether they make it obvious or not. If you think a band is “original” that just means you’re ignorant of their influences. As such I always feel conflicted when faced with a “new” Thrash Metal act.
I really dig Early Man, though. More than most any other neo-Thrash band out there they’ve managed to capture the essence of ’80s Metal for me, personally. From their Monitor Records Fuck You If You’re Talking To Me EP to their Matador Records Closing In album – both from 2005 – there’s been a raw, low budget feel to the music that carries through to their current output even though they now have the backing of The End Records. Their upcoming Beware the Circling Fin EP (out October 14th) was produced by Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Dwarves, High On Fire) and it retains a basement authenticity which makes the effort that much more endearing.
Starting out with a burst of caustic classicism a-la Slayer’s Show No Mercy, what truly stands out is the shredding guitar work. What most of the new Thrash acts lack is the infectiously deliberate riffing that made songs like “Whiplash,” “Wake Up Dead,” “A.I.R.,” “Evil Has No Boundaries,” “Bonded By Blood,” “Rotten To The Core” “Blind Faith,” and “Over The Wall” so memorable. Early Man have captured this through recognizing that you can build the track up with galloping speed, but bringing it back down for a memorably infectious mid-tempo riff is what keeps people coming back for more. That’s just the sort of thing that thrusts fists into the air and gets heads banging against the stage.
Credited as a three-piece, the guitar players, and in particular the riffing, are what stand out most; the drums are adequate though somewhat clumsy at times. Mike Conte is credited as playing guitars, performing vocals and playing bass. I don’t know how that’s possible in a live setting but there’s little bass to be heard on any of these four tracks. Conte’s voice is reminiscent of Denis “Snake” Bélanger of Voivod though he can occasionally wail in a Halfordesque manner. The title track possesses everything a Thrash maven could want; solid riffing, melodic interplay, Lombardo-style ride cymbal, soprano wails, galloping rhythms, a shrieking solo and morbid lyrics humorously reflecting a pointed brand of social commentary.
Running just under a quarter of an hour, Beware The Circling Fin will have any self-respecting Thrash fan salivating for more. I’ll be all over their full-length once it’s released. If you’ve been less than impressed with what any of the young Thrash acts have had to offer thus far I feel confident in recommending Early Man for your consideration. They’re certainly poised to take a rather large bite out of the nostalgia circuit currently radiating throughout the Metal community. They remind me of the local acts I used to see at basement parties back in ’85 that I always thought would get signed and become as big as my heroes in that time period but for the fact that, with my (now) much more experienced and well-reasoned intellect, I realize that just means they may wind up selling a respectable enough amount of records to justify their existence. And these days, given the current market, you really can’t ask for much more.