On Top recently signed with Horror Pain Gore Death Records, and with one quick spin, they answered my prayers. While bands like Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste really answered the call for the more serious, rebellious Thrash Metal sound, though on wildly different spectrums of the style, but neither of these bands really bring the energy or fun atmosphere of acts like Anthrax, a staple band in the Metal universe. While On Top isn’t necessarily a Thrash band, more of a Crossover Heavy Metal, Hard Rock sort of amalgamation, though I’d say there is some Crossover Thrash Metal to be found in the group’s performances, it definitely answers the call for some fun Metal material that elitists shrug off as garbage, citing “If it’s not serious, it’s not Metal!” for their actions. Given how I’ve taken to this labels releases in the past, I never expected this kind of release from them, but I did figure the material would be a little more light hearted given the artwork, as well as the band’s name. I had some spare time to kill, so what the hell? Let’s throw this puppy in and hit play!
I admit I blew past “Top Heavy” since it’s just an introduction track, and I personally couldn’t have cared about it at the time. “Into the Night” came off as a nice mixture of upbeat Power Metal in vein of early Primal Fear or bands like it, but with more of an Anthrax approach that, while still somewhat serious, the band is just clearly having fun playing the material and in no way trying to be dark and sinister. Catchy material fills the entire track and immediately slapped a smile across my face. I found myself headbanging along easily, cranking the volume without a moment’s notice and loving every second of the song. “Sleepless” takes things into a bit of a Crossover direction with a bit of a Punk attitude, which works with the harsher harmonized vocals. The two-stepping really pulled me into the song with some catchy riffs that any edgier Southern Rock band of today or yesterday would wet themselves over. Again, I was having fun, and given how few bands there are like this today thanks to the mentality of “If it’s fun, it ain’t metal!” it was a welcome change of the norm that I ate right up.
“Sick and Tired” carried the Crossover Thrash sound well with a dirtier lyrical approach of Punk rebellion invoked by relationship problems. I was pleased to see some of the heavier bass focus throughout the track, and the dualing lead vocal approach was well executed for the chorus to build up the energetic angst and tension. The guitar solo was sweet, and the bass fit the bill nicely when it hit so that the song didn’t automatically drop out and feel empty during them. All of this left me a bit unprepared for “Another Night of Sleaze,” which is as dirty as the title makes it feel. The slower track had more of a serious tone that seemed to want to capitalize off a kind of Glam Rock sound that is usually centered around sex, but with a heavier Punk meets Thrash edge to the simpler riffs. Sometimes the song actually left me wanting to find an old copy of any release by Fight Paris since that’s about the same vibe I got when it picked up, as well as the vocals. Sadly, I wasn’t too impressed with this one, and that’s unfortunately where I had to leave my experience off with this one.
On Top so far has definitely peaked my curiosity and surpassed expectations. If you read a lot of my reviews, you’ll know that I don’t really find a lot of releases through Horror Pain Gore Death Records to actually be that good. The surprising thing is that this one is so out of character for the Horror Pain Gore Death Records that I had to check it out, and of course this is the one that I can safely say sounds great so far. “Another Night of Sleaze” left me a little uneasy with what else is to come on the album though. I know they can’t all sound like “Into the Night” through “Sick and Tired” but I enjoyed what variety was there, and they just sounded a lot stronger to me. Am I anxious to hear the rest? Yes, and I’ll more than likely throw the album on a disc and blast it in my car for a while. This may not be the most exciting album from what I’ve heard, but I did enjoy what time I spent with it, and of course looking on-line I see many sites and writers I consider that fall into the “elitist” kind of category are tearing it apart. Gee, what a surprise… As far as I’m concerned, it’s not bad so far, and I’m anxious to hear the other six songs.
Article based on digital review material provided by Horror Pain Gore Death Records.