Released: 2006, Old School Metal Records
If you’re an 80’s metal fan I’m sure the name, Steve Gaines rings a few bells. Steve was the vocalist on Abattoir’s debut album, VICIOUS ATTACK, which is a classic speed metal album to say the least. Though his name has popped up here and there throughout the years since that album, Steve’s recording output has been minimal to say the least. 2004 saw Steve put together a solo release, naming it Anger as Art, though when the album was released it got very little reception and basically no press. 2006 sees Old School Metal Records re-releasing album under the Anger As Art banner (Steve apparently able to put together a full band) with a few bonus live tracks.
Now, picking up the album one sees a full band, but on this release all of the studio performances are by Steve Gaines. A full band wasn’t in the picture in 2004, during the recording of this material. Now what I immediately expected from this album is old school speed metal, though I was actually expecting a very raw and low quality recording, seeing as Steve did this album by himself. Though I was surprised to find that I got some old school speed/thrash with a very clear and, actually, very good, sound that is not overproduced or over digitized whatsoever.
The album opens up with what is quite honestly the worst track on the album, enough so that I actually find it rather troublesome to even listen to. “Attitude Adjustment” is just a fast punk song with some simple melody thrown overtop and the stupid little break with lone bass is almost sad. Admittedly though, Steve’s voice hasn’t sounded better. The album really gets going with “I Create Your God”. The song starts with some soft acoustic guitars but punches in with the thrash riffing I was expecting from “Attitude Adjustment”, it actually creates a very nice surprise because after the opening track I was nearly ready to throw the album out of the stereo and into the garbage. The song also utilizes more of Steve’s range; from rough, aggressive vocals, to screams to something with a little more melody the vocals really work around the riffs. “Wide Awake” shows no sign of letting up and brought a big sigh of relief from myself as there was no more experimenting to be found, pure speed/thrash metal from top to bottom.
The title track, “Anger As Art” starts off with dual melodic riffing, following the drums, before hitting that 1-2 thrash beat, with riffs to follow. Steve’s warm mid-range is all over this track and he works well to create diversity in the chorus when he busts out some screams. The clean/jamming section in the middle section is a bit jolting, thrown right into the middle of a thrash track but it works extremely well, Steve’s vocals giving it a slightly epic metal feeling. The bonus live tracks tacked onto the end of the album, while pretty raw, are entirely listenable, though why one would want to listen to most of the songs that they just listened to 20 minutes ago, again, only slightly different is beyond me but for those that are interested, they are here, and they aren’t bad either.
Anger as Art’s style, if the listener, and reader, hasn’t figured it out by now, will be hit over the head with it time and again throughout the album. It’s simple, straightforward, thrash metal. There isn’t an emphasis on hundreds of riffs; it’s an emphasis on a small handful of riffs THAT WORK and work well with vocals that fit as both a rhythmic accompaniment and melodic component. If you’ve missed Steve Gaines, he’s back, and he’s back with a band that could do some serious damage in the future.