Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rumble Militia - They Give You the Blessing (1990)

Since punk and hardcore music were integral influences upon the thrash genre, it's only natural that some of their practitioners would make the transition once thrash was dominating the extreme rock spectrum and punk was in somewhat of a relapse. Germany's Rumble Militia were one of the crossover acts that attempted to balance both of the mediums, but as of 1990 and They Give You the Blessing, they were clearly favoring the metallic elements in their music. Not to say this album completely abandons the more obvious punk/crossover of their 1987 debut Fuck Off Commercial, but it's an honest stab at thrash metal which ends up rather drab.

First, you've got to expect a lot of politically motivated, politically correct lyrics from a band like this, and they suck pretty hard here, dabbling in safety mode as they confront war, drugs and racism with as much depth as a bad after school PSA targeted at 12 year olds. You've even got the "No Nazis" anthem, which is repetitive and frankly pathetic. Another stumbling block the album faces is the vocals of Staffi, which are so bland as to be almost conversational. I like the reverb used on them, it's pretty common for German thrash of the time, but the guy just has the most friendly voice imaginable, and it's laughable when he attempts to force aggression. That aside, the band does belt out some decent, if common place riffs to compensate for the weakness of the front man, and tracks like "The Return of the Commercial Bastards", "The Earth is Turning Red" and "Genocide" are not half bad.

Unfortunately, when they experiment outside the pure thrash strain, the album grows weaker. "Is This the Reason?" is a total shit ballad with horrendous melodic vocals, forgettable acoustic guitars and hideous fucking lyrics about being culturally castigated. "No Promises to No-One" is almost pure melodic punk, with a style similar to Bad Religion, and it sticks out a little sorely against the more aggressive tracks that comprise most of the album. As Rumble Militia's first foray into thrash, They Give You the Blessing could have been a lot worse. For some reason, I remember actually liking this album, but I can only assume I was confusing it with something else. It isn't until the much angrier Stop Violence and Madness that the band would really 'get it', and transform into precisely they were aiming at here. Skip this album and head straight to that.

Verdict: Indifference [5.5/10]

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