Melbourne, Australia’s Elm Street started life as Raid before changing their name for their 2011 full-length debut. I missed that one (BARBED WIRE METAL), but am very pleased to make their acquaintance now. KNOCK ‘EM OUT… is their sophomore album, and being on Massacre Records, I just knew that this was going to be pure metal to the core.
Lovingly wrapped in a typically over the top Ken Kelly cover illustrating, KNOCK ‘EM OUT wastes little time in getting down to Elm Street’s musical bread and butter: high-speed, thrash-inspired heavy metal. Right from the start of “Face the Reaper”, right through to album’s end, the guitar work (riffs & solos) is top notch; this is one of those records where the guitarists grab you by the throat and force you to listen to them shred, almost to the detriment of all else. That’s OK though, because the guitar work is outstanding. Nothing against the rhythm section who pound away capably, but Elm Street is clearly a band that is driven by the almighty six-string.
Vocals are a bit more of a mixed bag, with Batres’ Children of Bodom-sounding caw wearing a bit thin as the album wears on. He’s going for an extreme approach, perhaps to keep up with the guitars, but a little more variation would be nice. In fact, when he does bring out his clean voice on the album-closing ballad “Leave It All Behind”, it’s a nice change, despite the song’s overall weakness in the face of the charging tracks that came before it.
I was definitely knocked out by this album, to hear such enthusiasm and talent is always cool and these guys have both in spades. Kiss the canvas, check into Elm Street.
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