Vio-lence - Eternal Nightmare
Brutal Thrash Metal
7 songs (35:23)
Release year: 1988
Reviewed by Aaron
Archive review

Vio-Lence, a brutal uncompromising thrash act from the Bay Area, was always underappreciated during their time. Sure, they had fans, but those fans were cut of the same cloth as Rush fans: IE, extremely fanatical and off-putting to whoever might want to just listen to the band casually. This, along with a vocalist who is pretty much the epitome of ‘acquired taste,’ limited Vio-Lence in the commercial sense. Thankfully, I honestly don’t think even one member of the band cared at all about commercial success, they just wanted to thrash around.

The production is really rather good for an album from this era, it’s strangely distant like that of Blasphemy Made Flesh, but here it works a lot better. Gives it a sort of alien feel, though the cathartic white-knuckle anger found throughout the album certainly provides a welcome duality in sounding all too human to be anything but that. The guitars are, of course, placed front and center, where they should be. The bass is like a human spine; it holds everything together coherently but doesn’t attract much attention. Phil Demmel and Rob Flynn, the same guys who would later cash-grab blatantly on Machine Head’s latest album (Flynn also on the two albums before that, but that’s another story), are here hammering out riffs that are as psychotic as they are lucidly interspersed with healthy 80’s thrash groove, such as on Phobophobia, and demented, screeching solos that are to anything Slayer has ever written as Filet Mignon is to the Friday Meat Special at your local high-school cafeteria. Heck, even Perry Strickland, the drummer, plays in a similar ‘beat-the-crap-out-of-certain-parts-on-your-set-unendingly’ style to Dave Lombardo, but he’s so much better, frankly. More fills, speedier banging, better double-bassing… heck, this band annihilates most of Slayer’s discography with their debut! If people had picked up on this band earlier than the historical revisionists of the mid-to-late 90’s, why, they’d be just as revered as Slayer within the metal scene, if not more so.

Anyway, this album starts off with not so much a bang as a cement block in the face with the powerful and speedy title track, which is basically a series of very catchy riffs and shout-outs combined with tasteful drums that accentuate the riffing, laced with thrash breaks like you lace a delicious stew with some exotic and rich spices, with Sean Killian’s nigh-incomprehensible stream-of-consciousness vocalization that he somehow manages to pull off live excellently. It’s one of the greatest openers in metal history, really, when you get right down to it.

Another favorite track of mine would be the closer, Kill On Command, not only for its subject matter (hit men) or its humorous lyrics, but for being the best infectious riff-fest on an album laden with infectious riff-fests, and for having one of my favorite thrash solos ever.

The one problem with this record is a lack of variation, so the songs tend to blend together and you end up distinguishing one song from another via the shout-outs, and that’s never a good sign. I also took off a few points because it takes a very, very long time to get used to the vocals, regardless of how open-minded you are. Pity, isn’t it? But trust me, once you get used to Sean Killian’s manic punk-style vocals, you’ll wonder how you ever disliked them.

If you’re a thrash fan, buy this. Better yet, buy the re-release, which I’m not sure as to the availability of.

Killing Songs :
Eternal Nightmare, Phobophobia, T.D.S. (Take It As You Will), Bodies on Bodies, Kill on Command
Aaron quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Vio-lence that we have reviewed:
Vio-lence - Oppressing The Masses / Torture Tactics reviewed by Ben and quoted 79 / 100
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