Canada’s Razor is one of the many bands that peaked in the 80s, had a rough 90s, and just kind of disappeared, only to crawl from the pits of hell and attempt a comeback to kick you in the nuts like in the heydays. Achieving cult status with an amazing 7-album run in just under 7 years (1985-1991), the thrash/speed giants lost some steam in their 1997 output ‘Decibels’ and then went completely under the radar until releasing two singles this year and announcing a comeback album after 25 years. Old-school enthusiasts like me and those who were lucky enough to have experienced them in the flesh during the ’80s got very excited with the news and now the product is here, Razor’s 9th full-length record ‘Cycle of Contempt’.
It’s already a good thing that they managed to maintain a core lineup intact with founding member Dave Carlo (guitars), Mike Campagnolo (bass), and Bob Reid (vocals), but recruiting Rider Johnson (drums) back in 2014 was a breath of fresh air in the kitchen work as he provides young and raw energy, good qualities for such a brutal style of playing. The characteristic, yet always required thrashy blast beats and up-tempo make all members benefit from this newly acquired energy, and the overall sound in the album feels classic and modern at the same time.
There’s actually not much to be said from the music and songwriting themselves other than they do Razor justice and will give you good reason to search this criminally underrated band’s back catalog. One would think that after 25 years without releasing any new material would kill Razor’s chances of remaining a brutal, visceral act but it’s just not the case, the Executioner seemingly cannot die. Tracks like “Off My Meds”, “First Rate Hate” and “Darkness Falls” are full-on thrash gems akin to the late 80’s/early 90’s style of playing, being unrelentless in speed, bloodthirsty riff-wise, and chaotic in nature, while “Jabroni” and the title track, for instance, surface the more corrugated nature of thrash metal with a few tempo breaks and less direct riffs.
Not one second of this record is lost on musical shenanigans, obnoxious experimentalism, or useless pompousness; this is a 43-minute thrash metal onslaught with zero room for rest. The energy is kept maximized at all times and from opener “Flames of Hatred” to the aggressive closer in “King Sh*t” your speakers will be obliterated with face-melting guitar work, incredibly powerful bass and drum lines, and harsh, anarchic vocals.
Another good surprise here is that the Canadians opted for a modern take on production instead of the analogic, old-school variety used by many underground acts, and the volume balance is extremely good. Nevertheless, it does offer an 80’s vibe throughout its course and so old geezers like me and newcomers alike will be able to find enjoyment in the overall sound, especially in the mixing and mastering departments.
Razor always had a unique sound somewhere between all-out speed and traditional metal. They weren’t polished and they definitely weren’t subtle, and that’s why they sound almost as good in 2022 as they did back in the day. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is on par with their absolute best works like ‘Executioner’s Song’, ‘Evil Invaders’ or ‘Violent Restitution’, but this album blends seamlessly with their discography and is set to be one of the best comeback histories of 2022. ‘Cycle of Contempt’ is a lesson to all those plastic thrash metal bands that play bland and grey music and the middle finger in the face of mainstream metal. It’s fast, it’s aggressive and it’s a statement of why the old ways of metal are almost always better. Highly recommended.