Vio-Lence

Oppressing the Masses

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Massively influenced by Bay Area Thrash legends Exodus, by 1988 Vio-Lence had already released Eternal Nightmare; a promising debut which featured the pile driving "Serial Killer" and "Kill on Command." But when the band's label Mechanic went bust shortly thereafter, the act would join the ranks of Jon Zazula's Megaforce for the release of their sophomore follow-up, Oppressing the Masses in 1990. Ferocious, intricate, and yet, stubbornly a-tonal at times, the album (produced by Alex Perialas-- the man responsible for such thrash classics as Anthrax's Spreading the Disease and Testament's The Legacy) was a somewhat over-ambitious bid to join the big time thrash leagues, but would be let down once again by singer Sean Killian's irritating buzzing bee vocals. Their crunchy, chuga-chuga guitar attack notwithstanding, tracks like seven minute opener "I Profit" and the excellent, rhythmically charged "Officer Nice" are hindered by their sometimes less than-song-oriented approach and an overwhelming debt to scene leaders Exodus. The same can be said for "World in a World" (possibly the album's strongest track), but some of the remaining material, "Mentally Afflicted," "Liquid Courage" (which deals with domestic abuse as seen through the eyes of an alcoholic) and album closer, "Oppressing the Masses" are all solid if somewhat cookie-cutter in their arrangements.

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