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Classics: Razor - Violent Restitution


by Matt Hensch

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It's always nice to come back to the golden age of thrash: the riffs were ravenous, the sound qualities were meaty, and the bands weren't mere caricatures of the subgenre's giants. Razor, the Canadian thrash juggernaut whose riffs and intensity are as swell as it gets, has really never flopped. One could turn around and toss a bouquet into the arms of any of the group's records and feel pretty confident a bridesmaid will have a shotgun wedding right around the corner, but "Violent Restitution" is something special. I'm not sure it's valid to call it Razor's best work when most of their other albums are neck-and-neck in terms of quality, though it makes the case to be the perfect representation of what it means to be Razor.

Detailing this phenomenon is somewhat tricky. It helps that Razor doesn't pretend to be interested in flirting with other heavy metal subgenres or compromising the thrash metal seeds, which are in full bloom here. Sheepdog, in what would be his last effort as vocalist for Razor, is wonderfully placed against the constant storm of fast picking and pounding drums. His wails and aggressive tone are noticeably lighter than Bob Reid's, though there exists a brand of warmth in how he executes his street-fighting yelps. I've always assumed his style would better fit a crossover group, but the shades within his tone, execution, and aggressive tenor pay justice to his efforts. "Violent Restitution" shows his performance running wild on the chaos of Razor's maniacal waves.

It is important to point out there are seldom rough differences between Razor albums; pinpointing what makes "Violent Restitution" so enticing boils down to the nuances, as usual. Expecting a storm of blazing riffs isn't breaking news, but finding another Razor release with such corkscrewing sequences twisting in and out of a sound quality that is raw as red meat is quite debatable. "Violent Restitution" has what is one of the finest song collections among Razor's catalog. Blazing beatings like "Taste the Floor" and more mid-paced, rocking tracks such as "Out of the Game" are different but clearly of the same breed, though "Enforcer" remains my favorite. One thing to admire is how unbelievably vicious the whole thing sounds. The skin-peeling speed of the riffs notched up to the constant snare abuse and Sheepdog's vocals brew up quite the storm for "Violent Restitution" to strut its stuff.

Razor manages to sound like Razor; there are seldom surprises. But for a group whose identity had reached fruition early on, "Violent Restitution" brings together a ferocious arsenal of thrash. Razor's knack for tracks running for just a few minutes is in full bloom and spitting out what are among the heaviest and fastest Razor tunes around. The sound quality-more often a do-or-die factor for thrash albums than not-is awesome; totally meaty and raw but with an instrumental balance that conveys the carnage wonderfully. What we're left isn't per se the best Razor album, but one that definitely makes the case to be among the top of the class. Just another mandatory Razor record that will rip one's spine out via the pooper and refuse to apologize for the mess.

Classics: Razor - Violent Restitution
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