Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Look Up.....

1985 was a transitional year for SoCal thrashcore. Suicidal Tendencies had really taken over the scene after their eponymous 1983 debut and had started their own label (Suicidal Records, 'natch) to which they attracted a bunch of local acts, many associated with ST lead singer Mike Muir. The label's first release was the appropriately named Welcome To Venice compilation LP featuring local acts Suicidal, No Mercy, Excel, Beowülf and Los Cycos. In the same way N.W.A. would champion Compton a few years later - Venice, CA was the ST stomping ground and would stay the headquarters for the LA thrash movement until it was eaten alive by grunge in the early 90's. The comp is notable simply that it contains probably the weakest early material by all of the bands on it (save for Suicidal who I think shot their wad with the first album and never recovered) - as well as the fact that nearly every band sounds exactly the same. Now this could be because Muir was the singer for two of them or the fact that they were trading band members like fucking dominoes or it could just be coincidence. Suicidal's solo entry "Look Up..... (The Boys Are Back)" showcases the near-final transition of a once amazing hardcore band into the pretty tame thrash outfit they would become on '87's flaccid Join The Army. Beowülf do their Motörhead thing satisfactorily, No Mercy belt out a couple tracks with original singer Kevin Guercio (Muir would take the vocal reigns for the band's 1987 full-length debut) - their song "War Machine" would eventually be retooled into "Crazy But Proud" on the Widespread LP. Los Cycos were basically the original ST lineup with a new rhythm guitarist and No Mercy's drummer. Their song "It's Not Easy" probably sounds familiar because ST re-recorded it for their Feel Like Shit... joke of a record years later. It is such a sad song when regarding the talent behind it - really shows what Amery Smith brought to ST's old sound... But I digress, wrapping up the album are a solid three tracks by 'Genocide fave Excel. Not their best stuff by far but still great - I dig the instrumental "Enforcer" the most. In short, Welcome To Venice is a perfect snapshot of a long gone era; 30 minutes of an amazingly specific crossover thrash sound that went as fast as it came.

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