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Razor - Shotgun Justice


by Matt Hensch

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"Shotgun Justice" is yet another notch in the belt of these wild and boisterous Canucks who, as time progressed, merged from the road of speed metal onto the thrash highway. Razor had lost longtime vocalist Sheepdog just a year after releasing the annihilating "Violent Restitution" and replaced him with Bob Reid, making his first of three appearances as spokesman for the Canadian Institute of Breaking Your Goddamn Face. Exchanging singers is often a hair-trigger process that has more than once caused excellent groups to implode or to fizzle out, but "Shotgun Justice" wasn't a bullet to Razor's dome. Reid himself is a personification of the bellicosity smoking out of the band's assault like steam from a kettle left on the stove for way too long; it helps Razor isn't in the business of pussyfooting around, either.

Reid's tone is more raspy and aggressive than Sheepdog's, and having this kind of vocalist running parallel to the structure of thrash serves to amplify the tenacity. He is certainly more limited in tone and ability, but the harsh manner is really all the album needs to sound like a killer. Although I find his performance on "Open Hostility" his best, Reid's shouting sounds like he's been verbalizing Razor's resentment since the group's inception; few appear this natural in new surroundings. The lack of variety and raw skill which had been Sheepdog's modus operandi (especially on "Violent Restitution") is equalized by the unrelenting unfriendliness pouring from his throat, and I can't find a reason to throw him under the bus for the stuff he shows here.

Razor is still Razor, though that shouldn't come as breaking news. "Shotgun Justice" runs on what was left over from the seismic slaughter of "Violent Restitution"; Razor has no need for reaching into the bag of tricks and pulling out needless musical gimmicks. The riffs are almost always scorching to the rhythm of wild percussion hammering underneath the thrash-based sequences and solos, but Razor's knack to make each song seem fresh had not yet expired. "Electric Torture" and "United by Hatred" show the group using riffs bands like Exodus have been trying to figure out as though they were calculus problems. "Shotgun Justice" also excels in the mid-tempo department, especially "Brass Knuckles" and its crunching, face-breaking riff which makes every note feel like a fist to the jaw. Rosie O' Donnell isn't this heavy.

"Miami" and "The Pugilist," the longest ones here, boast more compositional parts and more room for Razor-styled whippings; they are my favorites, for sure. I think the tracks are better-rounded than those found on "Open Hostility," which is where my nostalgia goggles come into play. Whereas that record's tracks showed variances in quality, "Shotgun Justice" runs smoothly on a stable plateau. Short bursts of vehemence like "Cranial Stomp" or "Stabbed in the Back" eyeball the record's longer tracks without blinking. The production captures the grit that most thrash beyond the golden age painfully skips over, and the collective sound issuing from the slicing guitars and smashing drums is pure ferocious noise. Perhaps not the best Razor album, but it does the trick. It's violent, it's Razor, it's "Shotgun Justice."

Razor - Shotgun Justice
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