Bay Area thrashers Vio-Lence might have only been around for eight years but what a magnificent near-decade it was. From their classic hyper-aggressive debut Eternal Nightmare (MCA Records) to the controversial lyrics of ‘Torture Tactics’ and a deliciously questionable vegetable soup and vinegar “vomit bag” plastic record sleeve, the band also launched the career of a certain Robb Flynn who went on to form 1990s game-changers Machine Head, eventually to be followed by guitarist Phil Demmel. With three studio albums under their belts, the band went their separate ways in 1993, only becoming a full-time going concern again in 2019.
With a life-saving liver transplant giving vocalist Sean Killian a new lease of life, it was time for Vio-Lence to return. Or at least three fifths of them anyway. With Demmel rejoining alongside drummer Perry Strickland, the original members turned to former Overkill guitarist Bobby Gustafson and ex-Fear Factory four stringer Christian Olde Wolbers to relaunch the band with Let The World Burn (Metal Blade) their first new release in almost thirty years.
Driven by pinch squeals and ferociously fast riffing, ‘Flesh from Bone’ is out of the starting blocks like a rocket, the opener punctuated by Killian’s unmistakable, if occasionally divisive, vocal delivery which even begins to sound like Slayer frontman Tom Araya in places. More razor sharp aggression lies in wait with ‘Screaming Always’, a weighty cut which adopts a slightly more laid back approach in its groove -fuelled middle section. Somewhat reminiscent of ‘Nanking’ by fellow Bay Area legends Exodus, ‘Upon Their Cross’ comes armed with bags of low end pitch diving and whammy action while the short sharp three and a half minute blast of ‘Gato Negro’ is a rapid and brutal excursion into neck pain. The title track closes out the record with a riff so fast that even the most accomplished of air guitarists are sure to suffer sore wrists afterwards.
So there you have it. After almost three decades away, Vio-Lence has returned like 1988 was only last week. A stunning five-track EP with the promise of another short-form release to come in the future, Let The World Burn might only be a temporary high but it’s been more than worth the wait.
8 / 10