Paul Speckman was one of the figures that shaped Death Metal as we know it now. For some reason, he dropped from the radar screen in the early 1990s, and little has been heard of him since. However, he left a solid, if not always impressive, body of work. While Master is his best-remembered legacy, Abomination seems to have been consigned to the bargain bin of history. It shouldn't have been.
You see, Abomination pisses all over Master from a great height. Master was messy but influential proto-Death Metal, never quite finding one identity to stick to. Abomination was solid sub-death thrash, too heavy for the average Metallica fan, too serious for the average Anthrax fan, and too intellectual for the average Megadeth fan.
Abomination dealt great slabs of songs, as noisy as a shipyard building a battleship. The three-piece band generated this huge sound with a minimum of fuss. It is probably the lack of fuss that counted against the band in the long run. Aside from opener "Blood From Oil", the rest of the album is unremarkable, in the sense that you know you've just received a damn good dose of thrash, it's just that you can't remember any of it. It's like going to a football match where your team scores in the first minute, then plays out for a 1-0 win- it's the result you wanted, but getting there was not as exciting as it could have been.
"Blood For Oil" though, is the kind of stomping, relentless opener bands like Nuclear Assault and Sodom managed less often than they would have liked. Taking snippets of Gulf War news bulletins, Speckman questioned the motives and results of the short-lived desert war, asking if oil is really worth the human toll, on both sides, of armed conflict. Sounds kind of topical, doesn't it.
Elsewhere, it seems Paul Speckman wasn't too keen on the country he lives in. "Oppression" asks if there really is freedom in American society. "Pull The Plug" is not a cover of the Death song, but rather a diatribe aimed at drunk drivers. "Industrial Sickness" examines the damage industry causes to people and environment. Yep, America is sick, and little seems to have changed since 1991.
While not an album to impress a non-believer as to how good thrash can be, there's still plenty on offer here - no frills music played with conviction, and thought provoking, politically motivated lyrics. A nice history piece.
Patrick Stott - 04/10/2002
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