Today marks 30 years to the day that Bay area thrash metal titans Forbidden released their sophomore magnum opus Twisted Into Form in 1990. After the release of their critically acclaimed and fan-favorite debut album Forbidden Evil (1988), the band parted ways (no pun intended……. actually definitely intended!) of original lead guitarist Glen Alvelais, which led to the introduction of Tim Calvert. Not only did Tim Calvert bring in a massive improvement in the lead guitar department, but he brought his own style and flavor of songwriting that is laced throughout Twisted Into Form. Alongside founder/chief songwriter Craig Locicero, they forged a sound in thrash that was melodic, technically proficient for its time, and simply became a guitar duo that pushed boundaries. Just to recap, the lineup for this record is Russ Anderson on vocals, Craig Locicero and Tim Calvert on Guitars, Matt Camacho on Bass, and Paul Bostaph on drums.
What really made Forbidden unique is the riffs, the execution, and the musicianship while all being very heavy, were mixed with Russ’s melodic approach to vocals while also doing the thrashy style of shouting that he’s’s very proficient at. This created a formula for something that you don’t often hear in the context of thrash. Thrash isn’t typically seen as a progressive genre or known for melodic singing or high pitched “Halford-esqe” vocals or even good singing for that matter. Twisted Into Form however, has all of that in spades. Alongside records like Megadeth’s Rust In Peace, Annihilator’s Never, Neverland, and Artillery’s By Inheritance (all released in 1990), these were thrash records that were progressive, dynamic and basically shattered any sort of stigma associated with the genre that may have limited some bands on what they could do. Groups like Forbidden weren’t afraid to stretch the sound of thrash and add in different layers and textures, ultimately bringing in outside influences. This can be best represented with the intro track “Parting Of The Ways” leading into “Infinite,” which, in my opinion, is one of the best thrash openers of all time. For 1990, these songs and riffs were cutting edge.
Not only musically is Twisted Into Form state of the art, but lyrically the maturity in the writing cannot be understated. Take a song like “R.I.P.,” for example. Given the state of the world right now with this global pandemic happening, listening to this song, it’s crazy how much the lyrics hold as much relevance today as they did 30 years ago when they were written. Take the following excerpt for an example:
Who can you believe? It’s never what it seems
Feel the anger
They’re tightening the vice, now who pays the price?
I am saddened by this selfishness and, “Who cares”
Put down your arms and stop this fighting
Save our Mother Earth
Lyrical potency and relevancy can also be displayed in a song like “Tossed Away,” where the lyrics explain the rich and privileged being unsympathetic to ones who are far less fortunate than they are. Where greed controls their lives, ignorance is bliss, and as long as they’re not affected by the tragedies, then they shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions, their lack of empathy, or that they shouldn’t care because it doesn’t directly affect them. Boy, if there’s any song on this album that speaks to the way of the world, this certainly is the one. Musically, it’s an absolute earworm, and in my opinion, displays Russ’s finest vocal performance on this album. It could’ve been a single if it wasn’t already.
When I was growing up in my teens discovering music, and specifically thrash metal, this was one of the few records that immediately went to the top of the heap in terms of impressionability. It immediately spoke to me on a profound level. As a musician and primarily a guitarist, this album is chock full of guitar ear candy that I was heavily inspired by. Throughout the time that I’ve been in a band and written songs, I can’t say enough how much of an impact this record had on me and how approach writing riffs and songs. Not only with guitars, but drums, vocals, bass, and even lyrics. Everything about this record in my eyes is absolutely perfect. It wouldn’t be entirely wrong of me to say if I said that this is easily in my top five albums of all time, and that goes for ALL music, not just metal. For thrash metal, this is easily in my top three of all time. It’s simply hard for me to find fault with this record. Perhaps it could be the sentimental value that is has with me, and the fact that it impacted me very heavily when I was younger, but even after a good number of years after I discovered this album, it still holds up to this day in my mind, and sounds just as potent and revolutionary as it did the day it was released. It also coincidentally was released on my birthday. Coincidence? Well… I’ll let you be the judge of that. However, I simply don’t think so!
Too long; didn’t read version, LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM if you haven’t already, and thank me later. I can only hope that it impacts you as much as it has impacted me, as well as many others. I miss Forbidden with a burning passion, and it’s a shame I never got to see them while they reunited during their stint between 2008 through 2012. All I know is, if they ever decide to do a one-off show, you better believe I will be there. For now, I’ll just listen to this album, as well as Distortion and Omega Wave, to tide me over until then.