Released: 2004, Century Media
It seems that there are more hardcore bands incorporating metal elements into their style. Quite a few have merged their style with modern melodic Swedish death metal and then there are those who have toyed with thrash metal. Stampin’ Ground may have some hardcore left in them, but they have grow to be a modern thrash metal band with just hints of hardcore in their music, mostly with the vocals. The drumming (by an ex-Benediction member) and riffing are derived from classic and modern thrash bands like Slayer, The Haunted, and Machine Head.
This album was my first contact with this English band. When I got the CD I didn’t read the bio to know they had any hardcore background. The album has a great sound and that is no surprise considering it is recorded, mixed, and produced by Andy Sneap. For those who might have heard that the band is hardcore…put it out of your mind. When the riffing for the first song “Don’t Need A Reason To Hate” cut in I was grinning and ready to kill. The riffing is a cross between Slayer and Testament with lots of triplets and an overall slayer thrash feel. As with most albums, the band has wisely chosen their opening track as this is the best on here and grabs you immediately. “Behind the Light”, which is also a stand out track, follows. “Killer of Society” has a few hints of Biohazard but this is buried under slayer-ish thrash rather quickly. The cool titled “Dead From the Neck Up” follows in fine form and is more angry and intense. After that is “The Cage” which is pretty much a weak song that is much too monotonous, riffs drag and repeat in places. With “Bear The Scars” the album gets back on track. Finally we hear a faster tempo on the drums…for the first 30 seconds; they should of kept that speed going damn it! It is returned to, but we need something that doesn’t slow up at all!! “Betrayal Has A Face” resembles a Machine Head song and 3:20 riff with machine gun riffing is killer. “Pain Is Weakness (Leaving The Body)” has a great speedy beginning, again for about 30 seconds before it slows back again. There must have been a dude in the studio telling them “you can only play that fast for no more than 30 seconds before returning to the more groovin’ thrash sounds”. Put the pedal down for the full song guys! Then we’re onto another of the album’s forgettable tracks with “Unmarked Grave”. The album closes with the two tracks “Ashes To Scatter” and “Mantra of a Dying World” (outro)”. “Ashes…” is one of the better tracks with more fast parts and some nice drum work.
I have a few criticisms of this album but they are not too much of an obstruction for my enjoyment. The vocals are done well, but could be mixed up more…something more “singing” orientated for some sections would be welcomed. With the lead guitars, well where the hell are they? Leads are an ABSOLUTE INGREDIENT required to play true thrash metal!!! In fact, a metal band without solos already has a huge strike against them. There could have been some faster songs, fast like “War Ensemble” or “Angel of Death”…the “don’t play fast for more than 30 seconds” rule has to be abandoned.
Bottom line - if you like bands in the vein of The Haunted, Slayer, and Machine Head, and you can handle a small amount of “alien” influence in the thrash, and an absence of leads, you’ll love this album. I know this one will be going into rotation for the next while because the riffing is so damn catchy…crank it!