Friday, August 27, 2010

Stormtroopers of Death - Speak English or Die

Lemme tell ya something 'bout a porcupine's balls

They're small..... and they don't give a SHIT!

If Stormtroopers of Death has anything metal should have, it's the attitude. It's kind of a punk rock attitude mixed almost 50/50 with the thrash metal ideals of the time (beer + fast + more beer = thrashTASTIC!). And with that fuck-the-world mentality flowing through the veins of an early incarnation of Anthrax, S.O.D. was born. From what I understand, Speak English or Die ranks as one of the first crossover thrash records ever recorded, so it obviously has history on it's side, but unfortunately the tendency to have fun gets in the way of the actual songwriting.

Before I get lambasted for bitching about a band trying to have fun, I'd like to point out that no matter what, the music is always the most important part. If the music is fun, that's great, but if it comes off as little more than a poorly written joke, it gets in the way of the enjoyment of the album. Children of Bodom is a prime offender of this, constantly covering non metal songs purely for laughs, not because they might actually sound good or show influence or anything, purely for shiggles. I really don't care if it was the band's intention to just make a stupidly fun record, because if I were to rate music based on if it sounds like what the band wanted it to sound like, everything would have a perfect score! So musically, this album earns exemplary marks for a few excellent thrashers, but far too much goofing off for it's own good.

Songs like Chromatic Death, Speak English or Die, Kill Yourself, and Sargent D and the S.O.D. are thrash monsters worthy of anybody's ears, and if the entire record was as focused musically as these few, it'd be a near perfect album. Unfortunately, the band takes their humorous lyrical approach a bit too seriously at times and churn out worthless time wasters like Hey Gordy!, What's that Noise?, Diamonds and Rust (Extended Version), and Anti Procrastination Song. I'll admit, I think The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix is funny as hell, but it's a complete waste otherwise. The band can't seem if they are in the studio for some lighthearted fun or thrashing listeners' balls off. Some songs (Milk, Pre Menstrual Princess Blues, Speak English or Die) actually do a really good job of intertwining the goofy lyrics and the intense music. When they get it right, they really get it right. Scott Ian riffs just as well as he did with Anthrax at the time, Charlie Benante is still one of my favorite drummers of all time, Dan Lilker is solid as usual, and Billy Milano has a perfect crossover shout. The main reason the album doesn't score higher is because of the wasteful throwaways that litter an otherwise intense and high energy thrash record.

But, as I previously said, this album does fulfill the purpose it sets out to do, and that is make a record that is not only intense, but also a lot of fun. I know I said I shouldn't base a score of something like that, but in the end, the album is highly enjoyable, which is all that really matters, so I lied, the album earns a B+ on the the whole. The joke songs are indeed annoying and flow breaking, but there are a lot less than I may have made it seem. On the whole, it's a fun album, but don't go in looking for anything thought provoking.


 RATING - 87%

No comments:

Post a Comment