July 7, 2024

Now that’s an interesting line-up. The term supergroup is often overexposed, but when you have members of Adrenaline Mob, Exodus, Overkill and Vio-Lence on board, with the inimitable voice of John Bush towering over all, it’s more than justified. Category 7 is the brainchild of guitarist Mike Orlando, who teamed up with Phil Demmel and Overkill drummer Jason Bittner to create some songs that are riff-driven classic metal before everything else, but heavily influenced by thrash. Orlando’s idea from the start was to craft songs that have hooks and strong vocal melodies and that’s where John Bush enters the picture to add a whole new layer of stadium-friendly, in-your-face choruses and his usual stellar singing style.

In Stitches showcases the bulldozing power of the band’s thrash-bred rhythm section, with a “nervous” tempo and an interesting arrangement, while the second song Land I Used To Love proves exactly why Bush was the best choice for a frontman. The chorus inevitably exorcises prime Armored Saint, although as if they’ve had a baby with late-era Testament. There isn’t a single weaker song here, Exhausted and Runaway Truck smashing everything in their path with absolutely stellar guitar playing from Orlando and Demmel, who also don’t forget to throw in a blistering solo once in a while. A fine example comes with White Flags & Bayonets, which drops an avalanche of guitars on our head while still sounding as catchy as possible. Mousetrap is even heavier and Waver At The Breaking Point is probably the most progressive and challenging in structure out of the bunch. The latter is a song which makes repeated spins of the album rewarding, revealing new exciting nuances with each new listen.

Then we come to the album’s absolute highlight for me, which is Through Pink Eyes. The song obliterates with staccato tempos, stop-start vocal verses and an over-the-top chorus and melodies once again. It’s like thrash made to be appreciated by people who’ve never listened to thrash before. It’s somehow hard to describe an album like this – you have to hear it to make up your mind, but believe me – this is stellar metal, made by some of the best players and performers in the genre. Etter Stormen is an eight-minute instrumental which flexes the bands’ muscles once again, even if we know quite well by now how good these guys are. The chemistry between Orlando, Bittner and Gibson is off the scale and it’s obvious how great of a time these guys have had in the studio.

Category 7 is more than exciting and I am very happy that they say it’s not a one-hit project but a full-fledged band with big plans for the future. The band’s name is more than suitable for the type of music they have created and this debut is sure to enter lots of best-of-the-year lists. If we don’t put stylistic boundaries or labels and just aim to listen to good music, then this is the band for you.

9/10  


Category 7 in Facebook

Category 7 will be out on July 26th via Metal Blade Records and you can pre-order it HERE