Maybe it's because I don't listen to a lot of it in my off hours - that time when I want only the sweet, sweet voice of Karen Carpenter to sooth me over AM radio - but I'm constantly surprised by the depth and quality of the Phoenix metal scene. In the seven months I've been doing You Asked For It I've yet to have a bad local metal record come across my desk (sadly, the same cannot be said for the pathetic local punk scene) and this week won't change that.
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Phoenix thrash metal band Hemoptysis isn't the second coming of Slayer yet, but for a band that's only been together since 2007 their EP, Who Needs A Shepherd?, is solid. The band's tempo is a throwback to the mid-80's Golden Era of thrash, though with Masaki Murashita's guttural death growl instead of singing.
Shepherd starts off with "Shadow of Death," built around a catchy chord progression and thunder storm-in-a-tin-shack drums that give way to a sludgy refrain. The title track starts off with a damned spoken word voiceover -- it seems I have to scold bands about misusing this stupid trick about once a month in this space -- but when things start going, about a minute in, they go well. The anthemic guitar solo about two minutes in has all the drama of a Queensryche solo, with a crunchy bass accompaniment.
The opening riffs to "And the World Dies" sounds a lot like lower-key version of the opening riff of Billy Idol's "White Wedding" to me but, unfortunately, the rest of the song is not quite as catchy as Idol's. It's a little too slow for my taste and never quite seems to gel. Likewise, "All For You" is a little boring, the same repetitive riff taking up most of the song's four minutes, with seemingly only a few seconds break between each each round. The closer, "A Traitor" is a return to form, punishing drums and a hard-charging riff along with some of the most aggressive vocals on the record.
It's probably not gonna get any non-metal fans seeking out vintage Anthrax albums, but Hemoptysis' EP Who Needs A Shepard? is another quality offering from a Phoenix metal band. I look forward to hearing what they do on their first full-length.