After years of scratching and clawing their way out of the unsigned rank and file, Milan, Italy's Extrema finally got their chance to record a full-length album in 1993, and the resulting Tension at the Seams still stands as their arguable career highlight. Problem is, both its songs and production already sounded like relics from another era -- one where thrash metal reigned supreme, the grunge revolution had never happened, and the intermittent, short-lived funk-metal craze, was still in full effect. Chronological concerns aside, though, Extrema really knew their way around this particular playing field, as evidenced by solid tracks like "Join Hands," "Child O' Boogaow," and "Road Pirates," which capably meshed the thinking-man's thrash style of Anthrax or Death Angel with those bass-driven funk elements championed by Mordred and Mind Funk. In fact, it wasn't until they tried to pull a wholesale Infectious Grooves imitation on "Lawyers, Inc." that Extrema bit off more than they could chew. And, while we're sifting through the negatives, the best that can be said about second-half filler like the melodically challenged "Modern Times" and "Life" is that they resembled post-peak Flotsam & Jetsam (no, not a compliment). Yet, the more harmonically textured and relatively funk-free "Displaced" showed what the band could do in a more traditional power thrash mode; and their respectfully straight-faced, virtually note-for-note metallic cover of the Police's "Truth Hits Everybody" was simply a stroke of genius, proving that Extrema's influences ranged wider than the usual suspects. Too bad those influences mostly overpowered the band's chances of establishing their own identity, and were recycled a few years beyond their sell-by dates, or else Extrema might have carved themselves a better place in the annals of world-wide thrash.
Tension at the Seams Review
by Eduardo Rivadavia