44MAG – Outlaw Psychosis – CD

Outlaw Psychosis
Don Anelli

This second album from the Williamsport thrashers delivers a wide range of influences that don’t necessarily result in a cohesive mixture of good thrash even if there are some good parts thrown into the mix. The main focus of the music side is the decided shift away from traditional thrashing patterns in favour of more hard rock vibe full of simple drumming patterns, static riffing and commercialized vocals that don’t offer any sort of vile spirit or bite that’s usually associated with the thrash world. It’s not really all that interesting at times, despite the occasional dip into faster realms when it calls for this type of energy, like both ‘Heroes of the New Aeon’ and ‘Hands of Misery’. But there’s not a lot of emphasis on playing with more traditional thrash rhythms or patterns here as it showcases a cocky swagger like in ‘D.U.I.’ and ‘Rock Smoker’ into the tracks. Several tracks, most notably ’50 Miles’, delves into the sludge realms with sprawling bass-led tempos, simple rhythms and a southern-rock tinge to the guitar tone that really compliments the hard rock material well, but really tends to hamper the intent of going for the jugular as it favours more simplified sequences that are nowhere-near as pounding, as devastating or dynamic as most thrash tends to get where it lays on the rather frantic devastation. There’s still some thrash involved here with the faster rhythms, raucous energy and charging riff-work at times but the sprawling, doom-like paces really saps a lot of the energy found in those thrash rhythms.
Overall, this is a pretty eclectic mix of influences but the problem is that it’s not a good one. Normally, thrash is tight, dense and energetic with dynamic riffing and dexterous drumming propelling a song along, and in spurts it gives off the tight crunch but more-often-than-not the rather bland hard rock really conflicts with this type of music. The commercialized, simplistic patterns are kept as the primary focus here and are a wholly different set of rhythms that off-set the type of influences to be gained from the thrash metal base of this as the lower tempos, swaggering riff patterns and energetic-but-simplistic melodies really make for a hard rock album mixed with minor amounts of thrash. This lowered form of the music tends to cause the songs to be so sluggish and lacking in energy that it’s so deprived of active tracks it’s varied influences and widespread canvas of work is not enough to save it. This is not at all helped by the fact that the music is obviously not recorded with a big budget and the tone of the guitars is the biggest offender here with an irritating, up-front tone that really doesn’t do the music a lot of good. There’s just a pretty painful tone with the hard rock and sludge influences providing a harder edge to the music that differs greatly from the pleasing tones that thrash usually have. With the types of swagger and sprawling paces that flow, it can get pretty irritating quite quickly.
While kudos must be given to the band for having a large amount of influences and the courage to paint such a varied canvas with such works, the sad fact that the influences chosen don’t really mesh well together by the inherent differences in their tone and approach, end up colliding pretty heavily and making this a generally disappointing effort. Though it does have some solid points about it at times, the overwhelming amount of flaws here do keep this one from being all that rewarding and only really recommended for hardcore fans of the style.