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.
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.
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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.