Sadus - Illusions (Chemical Exposure) (Displeased Records) 1988
1. "Certain Death"
Super fast, super charged American thrash metal. "Illusions" was the first full length album from Sadus and featured some lean and mean American metal. Darren Travis vocals are harsh and disturbing. That may sound like a bad thing, but his voice works perfectly with the abrasive music the band was cranking out. Unlike many other California thrash bands in '88, Sadus were not adding in more melody or attempting to add a commercial appeal. Rather, this album was all about speed, attitude, and aggression. The songs are mostly short blasts, making the entire "Illusions" album barely half an hour long, not unlike Slayer's "Reign in Blood". At times the band was even bordering death metal in their sound with some blast beats, insane riffs, death metal drum patterns and those insane shrieking vocals. I'd almost compare it to early Death or Possessed but far tighter and leaning more on the thrash side of things.
"Illusions" or "Chemical Exposure" was one of the most sought after Sadus releases for years. It was originally released independently by the band on vinyl in 1988 under the name "Illusions". It was later issued again by the band on tape with a different cover and title, "Chemical Exposure". In 1991 the album was again released on vinyl, cassette, and CD under the "Chemical Exposure" name. Despite this, all these runs were short and the album was still hard to come by in the late 90's and into 2000. In 2007 Displeased Records re-released this album. The Displeased Records version not only includes "Illusions/Chemical Exposure", with both covers, it also features the band's early demos including the "D.T.P. demo" and "Certain Death demo". Unlike many demos included as bonus tracks on re-released albums, the production on these tracks doesn't leave me wanting to hit the skip button. Rather, the entire CD is a good, solid listen. The 16-page booklet includes all the lyrics, photos and liner notes by bassist Steve Di Giorgio.
1. "Black" (5:24)
"Swallowed in Black" is biting, raw, technical, full-throttle thrash metal with early death metal leanings. Sadus fall somewhere between Slayer and early Death. Some of the songs included on the band' sophomore release are ultra fast. Every time I listen to "Swallowed in Black", or any Sadus for that matter, what makes them stick out from the thrash metal hordes is the vocals of Darren Travis and the insane bass performance of Steve DiGiorgio. The bass guitar is one instrument that is often buried in the mix on many thrash albums. That is certainly not the case here. Each and every note that DiGiorgio plays is heard clearly. The rest of the band is equally impressive. The music on "Swallowed in Black" isn't sloppy whatsoever, unlike some other bands whose music is played with such a manic fury. Rather, this band is tight. Fast double bass, insane guitar solos, etc. A few tracks do have a slight death metal influence, although I don't think that Sadus ever quite cross over into death metal territory. Songs like "False Incarrnation" contain some riffs that remind me of early Carcass or even Death.
Remastered and re-released in August 2007 on Displeased Records with liner notes from Steve Di Gorgio, discography and lyrics. Includes the "Wake of Severity" demo as bonus tracks. (Thanks Olaf)
Holy Cow Batman! This CD freakin' rules! Seriously, this is one of the best thrash CDs to come out in the musically depressed 1990's. (Why
did it take me nearly a decade to discover it?) If the testosterone injected, full throttle thrash metal writing doesn't do it for you, then perhaps the outstanding bass playing will. While not overbearing in the mix, Steve DiGiorgio (Autopsy, Death, Testament, Iced
Earth, Control Denied, among others) is heard loud and clear. His clean, fretless bass just stands out in my mind as I listen to this disc over and over again. That is not to say the rest of the band isn't proficient as well. This band has it all; thundering, fast drums, insane guitar riffs and manic guitar solos. Musically I can only compare "A Vision of Misery" to Death's "Individual Thought Patterns." Even vocally I hear some of that Chuck Schulinder sound in vocalist/guitarist Darren Travis. If your a fan of technical, heavy thrash metal, do yourself a favor and hunt down this CD. I picked up my original Roadrunner Records copy on eBay for $4 well before thrash became a sudden trend in the mid 2000's. It's worth much, much more!
Sadus - Elements of Anger (Mascot) 1997
It seems universally accepted among metal fans that "Elements" and "A Vision of Misery" are not as good as the band's earlier material. However, I go against the grain quite a bit here. I personally feel that Sadus got better and better over time. Despite the CD title, "Elements of Anger" offers more than just pure, angry, aggression. The band was experimenting a bit with their sound, while at the same time staying true to their thrash and death metal roots. As would be expected, DiGiorgio's basswork is a standout in this album, as with all Sadus albums. Combined with Travis' abrasive vocal and crunchy guitar tones, I just can't understand what's not to like here. It seems to me that the major difference from "Elements" and "Swallowed in Black" or "Illisions" is that the band is not concentrating on song writing, as opposed to all out speed. The songs are heavy, yet diverse enough from song to song at to not get boring. There are some mellower moments mixed throughout, but there are no ballads to be found. The melodic moments are used to created emotion with a particular song, giving the overall disc a slightly progressive feel. For a good example check out the nearly epic length song "Safety in Numbers" or in the opening moments of "Mask". Actually, at times Sadus remind me of Voivod, with their sci-fi fascinations and technical, odd riffing. The production is outstanding as well, mixed by well know metal-guru Scott Burns.
1. "Certain Death" (4:14)
German collection of seventeen tracks from San Francisco's Sadus. Tracks 1-6 are from "Illusions", 7-11 are from "Swallowed in black" and 12-17 are from "A Vision of Misery". "Chronicles of Chaos" is chock full of meaty, hyper-fast, super-aggressive thrash metal. This is mostly a disc for collector's or for those who are looking to check out Sadus for the first time. It is a good overview of the band up through "A Vision of Misery".
Sadus - Out for Blood (Mascot Records) 2006
1. "In The Name Of..."
Well, I managed to score this one a few months after it's release, although a friend gave me a CDR copy until I could obtain an actual CD copy. I gave it a ton of spins on CDR, put it away so as not to tire of it, and am now back on a kick of listening to "Out for Blood" again. Over that time I was able to read several reviews. They seem to either praise Sadus as releasing the best album of their career, or slam them for putting out the worst album of their career. There seems to be no middle ground. I tend to side with those that love the album. Many of the naysayers are labeling this CD as "nu-metal" or "mallcore." Those descriptions alone discount their opinions for me. "Out For Blood" is far from being mallcore or nu. Rather, what Sadus have attempted to do here is experiment a bit by mixing in some more modern riffing alongside their more classic thrash sound. Sure there are some songs like "No More" and "Down" that have that stop/start riffing that a lot of modern bands use, but so what! The music is pummelling, the bass playing is fantastic, and the vocals are shrill and thrashy. I personally can't get enough of it. "No More" even has some synth effects that gives the song a slight industrial vibe. However, I don't think these sort of experimentations ruin the overall brutal vibe of the record, but add to it. For the most part, the songs are mid-paced, although there are some faster parts dispersed throughout. There is even some Middle Eastern flavors in "Cursed", thanks in part to the sitar played by bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Testament, Iced Earth). Actually DiGiorgio's influence and playing can be heard throughout the album. He is to Sadus what DD Verni is to Overkill. He helps define their sound. Testament vocalist Chuck Billy makes a guest appearance on the album's closing track "Crazy". Simply put, this song rules! It has a infectious chorus and is extremely heavy. "Out For Blood" may not be Sadus' best album, as some are claiming, but it's far from a bad album. Say what you will, but it's getting plenty of spin time in my CD player and will most likely make my Top 20 of the year.
A special edition of this CD includes three bonus tracks including "Black March" a re-recorded Sadus track from "The Red Demo" (1994), as well as two covers; Invaders (Iron Maiden) & Merciless Death (Dark Angel).