Various Artists

Raging Death
Sadus / Betrayel / Lethal Presence / Xecutioner / R.A.V.A.G.E.

International Country of Origin: International

Raging Death
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Type: Split
Release Date: 1987
Label: Godly Records
Genre: Death, Thrash
1. Xecutioner - Find The Arise
2. Lethal Presence - Strangled Death
3. Betrayel - D.D.P (Destruction, Death & Pain)
4. R.A.V.A.G.E. - Brain Damage
5. Sadus - Kill Team
6. Betrayel - Another Sacrifice
7. Xecutioner - Like The Dead
8. Sadus - Twisted Face
9. Lethal Presence - Unholy Alliance
10. R.A.V.A.G.E. - On They Slay

Review by Carl on April 28, 2024.

I was surprised to see that this one had no reviews, to be honest. It is after all a pretty important release in the evolution between thrash and death metal, as well as introducing the world to the embryonal versions of Atheist in the form of R.A.V.A.G.E. and Obituary in the guise of Xecutioner.

And speaking of Xecutioner, they are the first band we get to hear. As one would expect, you can already hear the band Obituary bubbling underneath the music on offer here. Especially John Tardy's vocals already have that vomitous edge we all know and love to them, be it a tad less guttural, but you can hear it is him. And speaking of things that sound familiar, the early Slayer meets Celtic Frost riffing is another thing that would resurface in the sound of Obituary, together with the thudding percussion and frenzied lead guitar work. Alternating speed with slowly crushing heaviness, "Find the Arise" is my favorite here, but the more primal approach of "Like the Dead" goes in almost as good!

Next on the slab is Canada's Lethal Presence, a name I'm familiar with because of the involvement of Bobby Sadzak of Slaughter/Strappado fame. They deal in a more thrash metal sound with some hardcore inluence added. The metallic riffing is straight from the Dark Angel/Slayer school of playing, with the gruff vocals holding the middle between early Dark Angel vocalist Don Doty and hardcore vocalists such as Ron Martinez (Final Conflict) or Sothira (Crucifix). The track "Strangled Death" is a varied song, alternating thrashing velocity with more (somewhat melodic) midtempo parts, which does not capture my interest to the fullest, but the other offering "Unholy Alliance" does, unleashing their inner Dark Angel to the fullest. Primarily fast and furious, with shredding lead guitar thrown in and a vicious vocal delivery, this one scratches that fierce thrash metal itch all the more.

Next up: Betrayel, a name I know nothing about, and listening to what they deliver here, rightfully so. Coming across as a half-baked German speed metal band, this isn't all that, I'm afraid. Listening to their cut "D.D.P.", this doesn't do much for me. The vocals have me thinking of a constipated Zetro from Exodus having a bad cold. The music itself sounds pretty 'meh' as well, imagine early Kreator left out in the sun for too long. It's uptempo, yet not stupid fast, resulting in a track just plodding along. Things improve somewhat on "Another Sacrifice", which has the same ingredients to work with, but has a honking dose of hardcore punk energy injected, which does become them a little bit. Both tracks have great lead guitar work, but apart from that, Betrayel fail to ring my bell here.

R.A.V.A.G.E. then, and they dish out some punishment alright! The potent thrash/death metal sounds fucking heavy, and the growling vocals add a truly menacing touch to proceedings here. You can feel the aggression writhing underneath, waiting to explode. Both tracks make good use of crushing midtempo parts with excellent riffing, alternating with faster outbursts and great solo's throughout. The raw sound leaves the percussion to be somewhat pushed back by the guitars, but at the same time establishes a feeling of barely concealed savagery in the music. The indestructable "On They Slay" would be re-recorded for Atheist's "Piece of Time", sounding slicker, more uptempo and precise, and rightfully so, because this track is a beast of a headbanger through and through!

To close it out, Sadus come to show us why they are one of the greatest (and in my opinion underrated!) US thrash/death metal bands in history. Here we have an act that at the time made Slayer sound like The Carpenters, and speeding through their fast thrashing assault on the senses, they do not hesitate to drive that point home. The searing riffs fly forth propelled by a percussive performance executed by an octopus on meth, so it seems. On top of that we get the screeching vocals of Darren Travis, completing this picture of high speed thrashing frenzy. Because of the demo quality of the production, it's a bit of a shame that the bass work by the legendary Steve Digiorgio gets snowed under somewhat by the demented metal mania on offer, something that got corrected on their albums.

For as far as I know, all of the tracks all come from demo's, and because of that the production and mixing on all of the cuts are pretty rough around the edges, although there are no exceptionally bad recordings to be found here. It all has a very underground feel to it, and this album is a pretty important document of how early US death metal came to be.

To all you thrash and old school death metal afficionado's out there, check this out for a solid blast of true 80's underground nostalgia.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10