Whiplash

Ticket to Mayhem

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Just one year after unleashing their bludgeoning debut album, Power & Pain, to the thrash-hungry masses, Passaic, NJ's Whiplash were back with their 1986 follow-up, Ticket to Mayhem, which was everything its title promised. However, the band had experienced a few significant changes in the short interim between both albums, beginning with the tragic sundering of their nifty, three-Tony mojo, when drummer Tony Scaglione defected to Slayer (only for a red-hot minute, as things turned out), thus transforming Whiplash into just another "two Tonys and a Joe" band with the addition of able-bodied replacement, Joe Cangelosi. In all seriousness, though, the more relevant alterations undertaken by the trio -- rounded out by vocalist/guitarist Tony Portaro and bassist Tony Bono -- for this second outing entailed exploring a broader range of lyrical subjects, tempos, and arrangements with some of their new songs, and giving them a somewhat cleaner, more professional production job. But the unquestioned show of maturity heard on the non-thrashing, atmospherics-laced "Last Nail in the Coffin," and the acoustic guitar-introduced "Spiral of Violence" came at a cost; unquestionably detracting from the singular ferocity that had previously helped Whiplash stand out within the American thrash metal scene while failing to match up with the much more accomplished genre experimentation being achieved by Metallica and Anthrax around the same time. Likewise, although nose-to-the-grindstone thrashers like "Walk the Plank," "Drowning in Torment," and "The Burning of Atlanta" easily matched the debut album's energy and aesthetic, their deviation from predictable but reliable extreme metal lyrics (war, death, nihilism, atheism) didn't exactly result in more thought-provoking lyrics. This left only a number of competent all-out moshers like "Eternal Eyes," "Snake Pit," and "Respect the Death" that frankly sounded like rushed jobs or first album leftovers, and added nothing to this LP's prospects, in any case (book-ending the album with pointless battle sound effects hardly helped matters, either). Having said that, Ticket to Mayhem, imperfect as it may have been, still showed that Whiplash possessed both the chops and pedigree to hang in with the second division thrash bands of the era. At least they did, until a long layoff and much unnecessary tinkering with their sound and lineup (even going so far as to add a vocalist) produced 1990's disappointing Insult to Injury LP, which left their remaining fan base none too pleased.