The eternal underdogs of thrash and speed metal and one of the most unlucky bands on earth – that’s what Razor are. They are often cited as part of Canada’s “big five” of thrash/speed in the company of Annihilator, Sacrifice, Exciter and Anvil, but they are only rivalled by Sacrifice in the lack of luck department. Cycle Of Contempt is one of the most delayed and long awaited albums in metal ever – there’s been 25 years since Razor’s last proper full length Decibels. The talks about a new Razor studio album have been going on since the start of the new millennium and somehow it never happened… until now. The ninth album by these Canadian legends has been recorded by two original members Dave Carlo (guitars) and Mike Campagnolo (bass), together with vocalist Bob Reid, who’s been in the band since 1989 and newest member Rider Johnson on drums since 2014. Band leader Dave Carlo has been dealing with health problems in the family in the recent years, with the sad news revealed today of his beloved wife Rose’s passing. He has not only taken care of her but also battled some health issues himself since as far back as the early nineties and at the same time NEVER abandoning the desire to create another Razor album. What a warrior!
Cycle Of Contempt is being released on September 23rd through Relapse Records, so, the most logical question is obviously if it lives up to all the expectation. The very first song in the album and also first single Flames Of Hatred eradicates all doubts as it storms with the frenetic tempo and anger we all know and love. Dave’s riffs are absolutely brutal and also really catchy with song after song being an aggressive punch to the face. Bob’s vocals are as pissed off as in Shotgun Justice with some more nuances and skills added to his singing style, even more enhancing the effect of the typically anti-social lyrics. Off My Meds, A Bitter Pill, Crossed, First Rate Hate, Setup….. one speed metal grenade after another with no rest for the eardrums. Dave’s solos in songs like All Fist Fighting, the title track or Darkness Falls are among the best in his career – well thought-over and carefully composed, adding to the overall feeling of an album that took its time being created, but for a reason. The production and mix are the best in Razor’s 39-year career and the album just shines because of that. I cannot insist that the songs are better than the ones in Violent Restitution or Shotgun Justice, but they are not inferior and when you add that advantage in production already mentioned – you easily have a modern thrash classic. The drums sound a bit mechanic and “plastic” in some places, but I think this was deliberate in a way and reflects Dave’s vision of how a Razor album should sound. Their classic albums from the Eighties always suffered ether from a muffled sound or some kind of other detriments to either the mix or the mastering. Now everything falls into place.
What makes Razor unique among so many thrash and speed bands is the style of riffing – very “cold”, sharp fast-picking, which creates simple, but really effective song structures – just listen to the first 30 seconds of Off My Meds and try to keep your head steady – impossible. The music of Razor is just made for constant headbanging and insane moshpits. The band’s influence over contemporaries like Municipal Waste or Evil Invaders is obvious and still no other band sounds like them. This is what true genre leaders are. I am simply amazed at the fact that it is possible to release your career best album after 39 years and after a quarter of a century pause after your latest official recording. Hats off to Dave Carlo and the boys for doing just that and a big thank you for rewarding us with such a classic speed metal hammer despite all the difficulties and personal tragedy life has served them.
Check out our interview with Dave Carlo HERE
You can pre-order Cycle Of Contempt from HERE