ABATTOIR is a speed/thrash metal band from California, USA formed in the early 1980's (1982). Abattoir means something like "butchered" in French. Early incarnations of the band had John Cyriis (vocals) and Juan Garcia (guitar), both of which went on to form Agent Steel. This incarnation of the band recorded the song "Screams From the Grace" on Metal Massacre IV. Juan also recorded on the band's debut Vicious Attack but all credit was removed by Combat Records before the album went to press. Soon after the release of their debut Steve Gaines was replaced by Mike Towers (ex- Heretic). The Only Safe Place" turned out to be the last album of the band a little after the release of this album Mel Sanchez got together with his formed bandmate Juan Garcia, who left Agent Steel in 1987, to form Evildead, at which point James Murphy (Death/Testament/Obituary) joined before the band split a year later.

Vicious Attack Abattoir - Vicious Attack (Combat Records/Century Media) 1985

1. "Screams From The Grave" (3:24)
2. "Vicious Attack" (2:54)
3. "The Enemy" (3:12)
4. "Ace Of Spades" (2:41)
5. "The Living And The Dead" (3:42)
6. "Stronger Than Evil" (3:02)
7. "Don't Walk Alone" (3:18)
8. "Game Of Death" (5:02)

Originally recorded as a demo, Combat Records loved the raw, vicious sound so much they released it like it was, at least that is what the story it. It's either that or they didn't have the money or time to re-record the songs. Despite Mark Caro and Danny Olivero being listed as guitarists, it was actually Agent Steel's Juan Garcia who recorded this album. Once again, this is what the story is, although the liner notes to the original Combat release don't reflect this story. However,the 1998 Century Media re-release does tell the story in the short bio that is included. Musically "Vicious Attack" is raw thrash metal, roughly recorded and delivered with an almost punk like attack, while the execution is quite tight. It is fitting that the band does a cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" as this release certainly has a heavy Motorhead influence. The riffs, however, are pure thrash, while the slightly more melodic vocals with variations between high screams and raspier grunts help the band to bridge a gap between speed metal and thrash. The songwriting is all pretty solid. If these songs had been recorded slightly better, without losing the edge they would have even been better. Certainly one of the forgotten gems of the first wave of thrash metal to come out of California.

The Only Safe Place Abattoir - The Only Safe Place (Century Media/Combat) 1986

1. "Intro: Beyond The Altar" (1:28)
2. "Bring On The Damned" (4:12)
3. "The Only Safe Place" (5:06)
4. "Nothing Sacred" (5:20)
5. "Hammer Of The Gods" (4:27)
6. "Back To Hell" (3:10)
7. "Temptations Of The Flesh" (5:28)
8. "Under My Skin" (3:56)
9. "S.B.D. (Feel The Fire)" (3:28)
10. "Night Of The Knife" (5:26)

Abattoir's sophmore album is considered an undergroud thrash classic. Originally released on Combat in the heyday of thrash metal, it was finally re-released in 1999 on Century Media after they purchased rights to the entire Combat catalogue. Abattoir bridge a gap between speed metal and thrash metal. The vocal style is of the standard thrash/speed metal fare, with variations between higher screams and raspier thrash vocals. Personally I prefer the variety and the aggression here to the more cookie-monster-on-crack approach. One other thing Abattoir have going for them that has helped them retain their underground cult status is that they knew how to right a catchy refrain and were not afraid to mix in some melodic moments into their heavy metal. According to the liner notes included in the reissue, some the band members were unhappy with the "commercial feel" of this album and felt the band should go in a more "speed-core" direction. This turmoil about musical direction within the band caused the band to split up not long after the album was released. While I would agree that there is some melody within the songs, I am not sure I would ever classify this album as "commercial", but regardless the music contained herein does not disappoint. The only real downfall to this CD is cliché dark lyrical approach.

Related collections:
Agent Steel | Heretic

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