Wednesday, October 26, 2016

remembering Znöwhite, part 3

In 1986 there was a live EP called Live Suicide, but it wasn’t until 1988 that the band had its full-length album ready for the world: Act of God.
Before talking about the music on the album Act of God, I want to mention some things about the album. On Metal Archives there are some eight reviews of the album and the total average score is a 93. That’s not bad at all, right? Apparently, the album has some very vocal defenders.
Seamus O’Reilly (@EATB on Twitter), who is the host of the radio Washington state’s 20-year-old-and-still-going-strong Friday night metal music show Excuse All the Blood, says that this album is one of his top five thrash albums of all time. As I have mentioned, this album has some very dedicated defenders.
The album and the band are underrated, as many people have pointed out. That has led some people to speculate as to why the band did not make it bigger. Some have said that the band needed a better name; others have said that the album’s cover artwork must have been made bad on purpose, otherwise they ask, who would choose to have such a cover for their debut album in the 1980s when bands often had really cool artwork to catch people’s attention. Others have underlined that the band was from the city of Chicago, which despite being a big U.S. metropolis simply has not left much of mark on the history of metal, not in the same way that California, New York and Florida have. The metal music media have never honed in on Chicago as a hot spot for metal and this means that this particular band had this factor working against it.
Anyway, let’s get to the music itself. Some important changes have taken place. First of all, the production on this album is much heavier than before. Thrash bands generally did not have such a ton-of-bricks guitar tone heaviness. There is also a heavy bottom end to the recording; the drums and the bass create an album anchored very well by the rhythm section and the result is a muscular album sound. The speed metal has morphed into a power-packed crunch thrash. The guitarist Greg Fulton got himself a mighty guitar sound. In addition, Nicole Lee brings her best work to the table. Sounding stronger and more professional than ever, she has a voice that is spot-on perfect for the music. Both the music and the vocals have grown into rightful contenders.
The album is almost 49 minutes long and this has caused some people say that it is a bit too long because it’s a punishing guitar tone crunching for a long time. Essentially, what those people are saying is that they can’t handle this much heaviness for that long. There is nothing wrong with the music, it’s just that it’s a bit too much for them. Of course, that’s a very subjective issue and the previously mentioned defender of the album, Seamus O’Reilly, would probably like to have a word with anyone that complains that the album is too much of a good thing. Others would prefer for the last song to be omitted because it’s not a fast thrash track; it’s a more a midtempo crunching track and sounds a bit too different. I am not convinced about the idea that the last song should be omitted.
My own personal view is that the album, given that it lacks nothing in terms of strength, power and heaviness, it could have used some more melody in the form of the guitar solos. My impression is that more solos and longer solos make a strong album as close as possible to perfect (Man, I’m probably going to hear from Seamus for uttering such blasphemy about one of his top five thrash albums of all time!). Actually, the guitar solo on the last song is one of my favorite moments on the album. This is definitely a guitar solo that matches the song, which by the way, it is not as slow as some people say and not only that: after the guitar solo, the pace picks up big time and thrashes to the finish in fine, fine fashion.
Listen, friends, I do have some bad news. After the album the singer Nicole Lee left the band and the band tried other singers, but it just did not work out. The band had run out of road. It was the end.
Well, not the total, final, complete end. There is something more: after Znowhite, some changes took place and a new incarnation emerged with a new singer and it was called Cyclone Temple.
I will tell you a bit more about Cyclone Temple at a later time. Ok, gamblers, it’s time to roll the dice and go get you some thrash in the form of the album Act of God.
Znowhite - Disease Bigotry
by MMB

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