Canada's longest running thrash bands whose history dates back just as far as any of the more well known thrash bands. For some reason, despite a loyal underground following, Razor never seemed to make it out of the underground. The band broke up briefly in 1992, but founder/guitarist Dave Carlo reformed Razor with an entirely new lineup in 1997 and recorded "Decibels."

Mike "M-Bro" Embro, who performed with Razor from 1983 through 1987 had formerly played together with Mike Carlo, brother of Razor’s Daves & Adams Carlo, along with Brian Khairullah (Deliverance) in a band called Wrathchild in the early of 80's.

Executioner's Song Razor - Executioner's Song (Viper) 1985

1. Take This Torch (3:18)
2. Fast and Loud (4:20)
3. City of Damnation (3:44)
4. Escape the Fire (3:36)
5. March of Death (3:44)
6. Distant Thunder (4:04)
7. Hot Metal (2:21)
8. Gatecrasher (3:00)
9. Deathrace (3:29)
10. Time Bomb (3:45)
11. The End (2:06)

"Executioner's Song" is the first full-lenght studio album from Canuck thrashers Razor. As might be expected from an early thrash metal release of this nature, Razor unleash a barrage of menacing, frantic riffs and drum grooves. Each song beats you over the head relentlessly, never giving up the assault until the album ends. The songs have some obvious influences in the likes of Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Judas Priest, but then again which early thrash bands weren't influenced by these metal monsters?

The album opens with the appropriately titled "Take the Torch", and so begins the marathon of thrash metal. The songs is all about the guitar riffs and the tasteful guitar solos courtesy of Dace Carlo. With the follow-up track being titled "Fast and Loud", the band leaves nothing to the imagination. This song is exactly as the title implies. The production is raw, which in this case adds to the overall appeal of the record. The shredding guitar solos are peppered throughout the record, with "Distant Thunder" and pre-closer "Time Bomb" being highlights of the fiery fret board barrage. On this album vocalist Stace Mclaren has a Motorhead-inspired shout for the most but also unleashes some high screams and squeals to keep things interesting. growls.

What Razor have managed to capture here is raw, aggressive, youthful energy much like Metallica's "Kill 'Em All". Though the musicianship and songwriting will improve with subsequent releases, none of them will capture the same raw energy and unbridled passion like "Executioners Song".

Evil Invaders Razor - Evil Invaders (Attic) 1985

1. "Nowhere Fast" [instrumental] (4:11)
2. "Cross Me Fool" (3:14)
3. "Legacy Of Doom" (3:22)
4. "Evil Invaders" (3:50)
5. "Iron Hammer" (3:38)
6. "Instant Death" (2:57)
7. "Cut Throat" (4:12)
8. "Speed Merchants" (3:44)
9. "Tortured Skull" (5:35)
10. "Thrashdance" (3:21)

"Evil Invaders" is Razor's second full length album after "Executioners Song" and an EP titled "Armed & Dangerous". As with all the other Razor discs I own, Razor are a more than competent thrash band. However, unlike their later discs, "Evil Invaders" seems to have more of a punk ethic and delivery than the more controlled "Violent Restitution." It's hard for me to describe, but the overall feel is primitive, almost like if the Ramones had strapped on some leather and spikes and went thrash metal. This is especially true of the vocals that range from ear piercing screams, to Venom like grunts, to punk shouting. However, there is plenty of solid heavy metal riffing to be found and I doubt that Razor would ever be accused of being anything other than a thrash metal band. The name of the game is play it fast! The tempos do vary a bit from song to song, but mostly they just go from fast to faster. "Evil Invaders" is an underground cult classic, but I much prefer the more refined Razor discs. However, for a full throttle thrash assault, this isn't a bad listen.

Razor - Malicious Intent (Attic) 1986

1. "Tear Me To Pieces" (2:58)
2. "Night Attack" (2:36)
3. "Grindstone" (3:02)
4. "Cage The Ragers" (3:27)
5. "Malicious Intent" (4:34)
6. "Rebel Onslaught" (3:19)
7. "A.O.D." (3:05)
8. "Challenge The Eagles" (3:24)
9. "Stand Before Kings" (2:46)
10. "High Speed Metal" (3:33)
11. "K.M.A." (2:48)
12. "Mosh" (1:38)

How can you not love a metal album that starts off with someone screaming, "Turn it up! Turn it up louder!" Razor have never strayed from what they love, that is full-speed, blistering thrash metal. "Malicious Intent" is exactly that from beginning to end. Speed, aggression and a punk delivery. Unfortunately due to the fact that they are always going full throttle, there is little room for diversity or memorable song writing. The name of the game here is speed for speed sake. The title track starts off with a cool mid-paced riff but unfortunately this only lasts for seconds before the band puts the pedal to the metal again. I personally prefer the band's more musically mature CDs like "Violent Restitution".

Custom Killing Razor - Custom Killing (Fist Fight) 1987

1. Survival of the Fittest (10:55)
2. Shootout (4:54)
3. Forced Annihilation (4:58)
4. Last Rites (10:53)
5. Snake Eyes (3:32)
6. White Noise (5:23)
7. Going Under (4:02)
8. Russian Ballet (0:33)

"Custom Killing" was Razor's fourth full length release. Razor made some noise in the mid-eighties with a string of albums displaying a strong Slayer-esque vibe, however the look and sound of this release doesn't sound like a band who is seasoned in the studio. First of all, the cover art looks like it was drawn by a kid on his school book. As well, the recording/production sounds like it was recorded on a boom box onto a cassette tape. It really has a demo feel, rather than a full length album from a veteran band. However, front cover art and production doesn't make or break a thrash metal band. Some bands have that raw recording an it adds to the charm of the album. Raven's "Rock Until You Drop", Venom's "Welcome to Hell" and Vengeance Rising's "Human Sacrifice" all come to mind. Unfortunately that is not the case here. Razor's production just sounds muddy, as opposed to raw.

In the past Razor were cranking out short, punchy, thrash metal anthems but on "Custom Killing" the band attempts more complex and lengthier song structures. Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing in itself. Metallica successfully did it on "And Justice For All". Venom pulled it off on "At War With Satan". However, for Razor it doesn't work quite as well.

The album starts off with a nearly eleven minute track that should not have started the album off. The first four and a half minutes of the song are instrumental that does little to nothing. The band tries to pack in as many thrash metal riffs as possible, but honestly the song would have been better off without the fluff at the beginning. Personally I think that the equally lengthy "Last Rites" might have been a better choice for album opener. The song opens with some eerie keyboards before doing the thrash metal polka for nearly eleven minutes. This song could have used a bit of refining as well, but I find it to be a more interesting song than "Survival of the Fittest". The song builds up and crescendos, rather than just being an eleven minutes battering ram to the head. There are some shorter songs that are more of what anyone would expect from Razor. Thrashers like "Shootout", the stomping "Forced Annihilation" and "Going Under" are all solid thrash songs that are unfortunately hampered by the poor production. The album ends with a short joke song that is sort of fun.

The idea of a more serious and progressive Razor album isn't necessarily a bad idea, but it's totally wasted on an album that was recorded so poorly. As it stands it's not terrible. I mean, it is thrash metal, so it's not total garbage. I'd much rather listen to this than 99% of the pop music in the world. However, it's just not Razor's best when compared to the plethora of material they have released.

Violent Restitution Razor - Violent Restitution (Steamhammer) 1988

1. "The Marshall Arts" (2:45)
2. "Hypertension" (3:21)
3. "Taste The Floor" (2:07)
4. "Behind Bars" (2:15)
5. "Below The Belt" (2:54)
6. "I'll Only Say It Once" (2:28)
7. "Enforcer" (3:44)
8. "Violent Restitution" (2:33)
9. "Out Of The Game" (2:48)
10. "Edge Of The Razor" (4:15)
11. "Eve Of The Storm" (3:20)
12. "Discipline" (2:55)
13. "Fed Up" (2:31)
14. "Soldier Of Fortune" (2:59)

Full speed! Full throttle! Pure unadulterated thrash metal! Personally I can't get enough of this stuff. Razor is a band with a long history, yet they never gained much in the way of commercial success. However, commercial success does not make a good album. Razor combine the thrash ethics of bands like Testament and early Metallica yet Razor have a slightly more punk ethic to their music. There is plenty of speedy riffs, fast drumming, shredding guitar solos, and the mosh polka ethic to please any fan of this genre, of which I am one. Of course there is also the use of the chainsaw here and there throughout the album. Chainsaws and guitars, is there anything more fun than that? Lyrically Razor is the musical equivalent of a macho, tough guy fight movie, or even a night of WWF Wrestling. Tales of anger and violence was the flavor of the day for most thrash bands in the late 80's and Razor fell right into the mold. However, the lyrics are delivered in such a way that they are no where near as important as the music. After hearing this disc, I'll have to investigate more of this band's catalogue.

Shotgun Justice Razor - Shotgun Justice / Armed & Dangerous (InRock) 1990/1984

Shotgun Justice
1. Miami (3:15)
2. United by Hatred (2:41)
3. Violence Condoned (2:22)
4. Electric Torture (2:48)
5. Meaning of Pain (3:10)
6. Stabbed in the Back (2:16)
7. Shotgun Justice (3:16)
8. Parricide (2:44)
9. American Luck (2:32)
10. Brass Knuckles (3:15)
11. Burning Bridges (2:19)
12. Concussion (2:24)
13. Cranial Stomp (2:31)
14. The Pugilist (3:44)
Armed & Dangerous
15. The End (2:04)
16. Killer Instinct (2:44)
17. Hot Metal (2:19)
18. Armed and Dangerous (5:12)
19. Take This Torch (3:18)
20. Ball and Chain (2:34)
21. Fast and Loud (3:52)

1990 was a year when many thrash bands were on major labels and attempting to gain mainline success, as such many bands slowed things down, added ballads and other more commercially viable influences. On "Shotgun Justice" Canada's Razor were hell-bent on out thrashing everyone else. The sound is primitive, almost like Motorhead on speed with touches of Slayer and early speed metal like Exciter. There are no ballads and no attempts at commercial hooks. It's all about speed, speed and more speed. Heavy as a tank rolling at full speed, all guns-a-blazin'! The album was the introduction of new vocalist Bob Reid. His voice is raw and raspy and fits the heavy feel of the album. He spits out the lyrics like nails from a high-powered nail gun. The problem is that "Shotgun Justice" is sometimes a chore to listen to. The songs are so fast that they tend to blend together with little to distinguish one song from the next. The songs are more about getting pits going at shows than it is about leisurely listening.  

Also includes the band's legendary debut EP "Armed and Dangerous".

Open Hostility Razor - Open Hostility/Escape the Fire (InRock) 1991/1984

Open Hostility
1.    In Protest (3:44)
2.    Sucker For Punishment (4:03)
3.    Bad Vibrations  (3:01)
4.    Road Gunner (3:08)
5.    Cheers (2:35)
6.    Red Money (2:54)
7.    Free Lunch (2:39 )
8.    Iron Legions (2:34)
9.    Mental Torture (3:29)
10.  Psychopath (2:33)
11.  I Disagree  (2:58)
12.  End of the War (3:40)
Escape the Fire
13.    City of Damnation (3:41)
14.    Time Bomb (3:43)
15.    Distant Thunder (4:03)
16.    Gatecrasher (2:57)
17.    Metal Avenger (7:21)   
18.    Heavy Metal Attack (1:48)    
19.    Frost Bite (3:09)    
20.    Death Race (3:24)
21.    Ready for Action (3:23)    
22.    Escape the Fire  (3:28)
23.    March of Death (3:49)

"Open Hostility" was recorded by a band under major stress. The band were without a label, drummer Rob Mills was injured in a car accident during the recording and the band was recording on a shoestring budget. Still, despite all the problems, the band still pulled out a powerful thrash metal offering. Fast, raw, aggressive, thrash metal. This is the stuff that has inspired whole new generations of speed addicts. The production is still raw, but isn’t overly muddy. Fortunately the use of a drum machine hampers the album only slightly. New singer Bob Reid, who replaced original vocalist Stace "Sheepdog" McLaren "Shotgun Justice", is relentless. His raw, throaty approach isn’t that far off from what bands like Kreator and Destruction were doing at the time. As would be expected from Razor, the lyrics are filled with scathing, view of government and society as a whole, but delivered with sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek humor. "Open Hostility" may not be Razor’s best album, but it’s certain up at the top of the list. Thrash on!

This 2010 InRock Records release also features the "Escape the Fire" demo as bonus tracks. These tracks are noisy, Slayer-esqe thrash metal. Being that they are demo tracks, the production level drops considerable from the "Open Hostility" tracks. Actually, it sounds like these tracks might have been taken from a cassette copy as the levels drop occasionally. These tracks were originally recorded in 1984 and feature original vocalist Stace "Sheepdog" McLaren, who has a very punk delivery.

Decibels Razor - Decibels (Hypnotic) 1997

1. "Decibels" (4:24)
2. "Jimi The Fly" (3:43)
3. "Life Sentence" (03:28)
4. "Liar" (4:05)
5. "The Game" (3:41)
6. "Great White Lie" (5:10)
7. "Open Hostility" (3:02)
8. "Nine Dead" (3:34)
9. "Goof Soup" (4:16)
10. "Violence... Gun Control" (7:04)
11. "Instant Death" [unlisted track] (3:23)

This CD was sent to me as a surprise from a friend. Right on! Razor albums seem to be far and few between. Razor are thrash metal. Like fellow Canadian Annihilator, these guys continued chugging out quality heavy metal throughout the 80's and even into the 1990's despite the different changes in musical climate, despite the loss of members. and despite never gaining the recognition they deserve. "Decibel"s is no exception. This is thrash metal with some very slight industrial metal tinges here and there. "Violence... Gun Control" for instance has an industrial metal edge to it. Also, the vocal effects in few songs has that same edge to it. Other than these minor things, "Decibels" is a full-on, thrash metal, assault. Razor's early albums were delivered with a punk delivery but as the band grew, albums like "Violent Restitution" began to become more refined and even add in more melody. "Decibels" continues in this direction as well. The songs here manage to be fast and aggressive and melodic at the same time. One noticeable absence here, is that founding member and guitarist Dave Carlo doesn't let loose on as many shredding guitar solos as I might have expected. Surprisingly however, it's not that noticeable. Actually it wasn't until I started writing a review and began listening for the solos that I noticed the lack of them. So, despite this one minor complaint, I find this to be yet another solid thrash metal CD from Razor and another excellent addition to my collection. (thanks James)

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