Even back during its mid-to-late 80s heyday, I was never a huge thrash fan. I mean, I had all of the classic Big 4 albums, but I was pretty picky beyond that – I may have liked the occasional song (“Hello From the Gutter,” “Into the Pit,” “No Place for Disgrace”), but very rarely did I stumble upon an album I’d want to listen to from front-to-back. My opinion of the genre hasn’t changed all that much over the years, either. I’ve come to appreciate how fun thrash can be in a live setting, but I pretty much never throw on a thrash album just because I’m in the mood for some thrash. Hell, I don’t really even like black/thrash all that much.
I mention all of this for one main reason – so that our loyal Vault Hunters will realize how truly significant what I’m about to say next actually is:
Hazzerd’s Misleading Evil totally fucking rips tits.
This young Canadian quartet—none of whom were even alive when I was not much caring about thrash in the late 80s—have done the damn near impossible: they’ve recorded a thrash album that I actually want to listen to more than once. What’s their secret? I think it comes down to a few things, actually. First, they blend their influences in such a way that their music both feels familiar and sounds fresh. They’re serious with their lyrics—there are no pizza-and-beer party anthems here, thank you very much—but not so serious that the album ends up being a downer. Instead, it sounds a bit more like what would have happened if Among the Living had the lyrics from Rust in Peace or Countdown to Extinction instead of songs inspired by comic books and Stephen King.
It also doesn’t hurt that these kids can play their asses off. Lead guitarist Toryin “Junior” Schadlich unleashes one tasty solo after the next, wowing with both his technical ability and his melodic sense – they’re not flash for flash’s sake. He and second guitarist Brendan “Wheats” Malycky know their way around a riff or few as well. Just check out the dexterous little progression that kicks closer “Road to Nowhere” into high gear. More than that, it really speaks to all of Hazzerd’s abilities as musicians that the true standout on Misleading Evil is its nearly 8-minute long instrumental title track. Much like Metallica’s classic “The Call of Ktulu,” it feels more like a cinematic journey than a simple song.
The bottom line here is that even if you’re a cynical fucker like me, there’s plenty to like about Hazzerd’s Misleading Evil, and could not have been a better choice for one of the first releases from our friend Rachel Calkins’s new label Rapid Fire Records. I’m certainly going to be rocking this tape for a good long while, and I can’t wait to hear what the young Calgary natives do next.