Released: 2003, Independent
Does the world need another death/thrash band? When that band features ex-Overkill axeman Bobby Gustafson, the resounding answer is YES! As a longtime fan of OverKill, I was anxious to hear this EP. After playing this several times, I can tell you that Response Negative are set to mash skulls worldwide. The band sounds impressive from the thundering drumming of James McCourt, the riffage of Bobby Gustafson and Mark Dykstra, the bass assault of Andrew Goodyer, to Nick Barlow’s abrasive (yet palatable) death metal vocals.
Response Negative’s 5-song EP was recorded at Studio 13 by Jeremy Staska (Poison The Well, Marilyn Manson, Malevolent Creation, Divine Empire, etc.) and is mastered by the legendary Mike Fuller (Iced Earth, Crimson Glory, Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura, Judas Priest, Death, Deicide, and a bunch of non-metal artists like Rod Stewart, The Bee Gees, Eric Clapton, etc!). With experienced people like that behind the band, you know the sound won’t suck! As a fan of 80’s thrash metal, and of OverKill, I am most stoked over the return of Bobby Gustafason. When Bobby left OverKill in 1990, I was disappointed. Although he surfaced in a few bands in the mid 90's (most notably Skrew) he soon went off the radar. In the summer of 2003 I heard from Response Negative's drummer, who told me about the band and that Bobby had joined. I of course jumped at the opportunity to catch up on what he'd been doing and had lengthy conversation with Bobby that can be read at http://www.metal-rules.com/interviews/BobbyG.htm
After the interview I stayed in contact with Bobby and was given one of the advance copies of their new 5-song demo to preview. So let’s get on to the music!
I had heard the pre-Bobby material that Response Negative had on their website and while it was ok, it didn't grab me. So I was a bit anxious to hear if Bobby could turn this around and infuse the band's sound with some of his own style. I can tell you that he's pulled it off. The EP kicks off with "All Out War" has some nods to Boobby's former band, OverKill with some of the riffing. The coolest part of this one is the machine gun riffage that is fitting on a song of this title. This is a mid-paced head-thrasher that also features some nice drumming that locks in very tightly with the riffs. The solo in this one sounds like Bobby's classic ripping leads. "Silent Son" has a major nod to the Kreator song "Terrible Certainity" which is not a bad thing at all since that is one of my many favorite Kreator songs! Even the crazy solo on this one reminded me of an old Kreator-styled solo. This one is not all Kreator worship though, there are some great thrashy riffs and at 2:15 there is a breakdown that totally oozes OverKill. Bobby hasn't missed a beat! "Etched in Sickness" starts out with a very catchy riff before moving into a part that reminded me of Testament LEGACY-era material. Around 1:45 is a clean guitar part that breaks things down nicely before things pick back up again. "Carnivorus Lust" starts out with some hints of punk but don't worry. The solo on this one was the best on the CD. The CD closer, “Faithless” starts out with some great death thrash riffing. There are some doubled vocals in this one like Deicide does (low growl / high scream).
These 5 songs leave me wanting more. Recommended for fans of old OverKill and anyone looking for a fresh death-thrash metal band.