Released: 2008, Earache Records
The so-called Thrash Revival that began storming the world circa 2004 is a part of the larger twenty year nostalgia cycle, where cultures revive and take interest in pop culture from roughly twenty years ago. All the VH1 specials and shows like Metal Mania, to movies like Dark Night, the new Rambo, Rocky, and Die Hard are all a part of this. Enter Gama Bomb, from the land of Shamrocks and Guinness boldly carrying the torch of pure 80’s Thrash. Yes, Gama Bomb is an Irish band and a testament to the influence and reach of this current thrash renaissance that the world is finally given an Irish metal bound of such ability not seen since Therapy?. Gama Bomb formed in 2002 and began honing their chops touring Ireland and the UK while releasing demos and building a core following. They released their first full length album in 2007 to favorable reviews and were promptly snatched by the giant death metal/grindcore label Earache for 2008’s CITIZEN BRAIN.
CITIZEN BRAIN is album from a band that wears its influences proudly on its sleeve. What you get is a refreshingly welcome album cover of comic book/graphic novel characters terrorizing a bunch of business suits in some unknown location, instead of demons from hell. Open the album liner and you see a picture of Space Invaders and Final Fight. Yes, these guys are serious about their love for the 80s. The first track, “Zombie Blood Nightmare” is a precursor to the rest of the album, which is a passion for the living dead, amphetamine tempos, short song lengths, razor sharp riffing and vintage 80’s thrash. “Evil Voices” follows with a blistering opening riff, some insane laughs that immediately reminded me of “Mad House” by Anthrax, and a perfectly executed Tom Araya scream before Domo Dixon’s fiery lead break. Track four, “Time Crime”, is a vintage Exodus chug that is so lovingly crafted, you just gotta crack a wide beer-chugging grin as vocalist Philly Byrne channels Paul Baloff with the opening lyric “Napoleon Blownapart, 1610”. Hell, they even do SOD on “OCP”, a forty-second song about Robocop’s villain, Dick Jones. The guys have a sense of humor too, as evidenced by “Zombi Brew”, an energetic thrasher about the newly risen dead heading for the local pub for a brew before they eat some brains. Make no mistake, despite the silliness this is a highly technical brand of thrash, with absolutely pulverizing production values from Scott Atkins. There is plenty of double-bass drumming and the album never lets up. Exodus is the primary influence here from the vocals to the riffs, but you can hear Testament, Nuclear Assault, Anthrax, and Vio-lence in these songs as well. Some might take issue with the lack of variety in the tempo of the songs, and the extremely derivative nature of much of the music, but it feels more like a tribute than a rip-off. Either way, these are relatively minor complaints.
CITIZEN BRAIN is a definite return to a style of thrash that was prototyped in the 80’s but with some modern influences and the benefits of excellent production technology. Every one of these guys smokes on their instrument. Gama Bomb has meticulously and enthusiastically recreated the classic 80’s thrash sound with such reverence, that any issues with the lack of originality are easily dismissed. The only bands doing thrash like this are the ones who created it in the first place. This makes CITIZEN BRAIN even more impressive, since they did not come from the original movement, and any self-respecting thrash fan that wants to hear that familiar 80’s sound again should find this a worthy listen.
NOTE: There is a version that includes a bonus 30-minute DVD with clips of the band recording in the studio and some live clips as well.
Choice Tracks: Zombie Blood Nightmare, Evil Voices, Time Crime