New Jersey's Whiplash were classic thrash metal, as their name suggests. Whiplash seemingly has folded and reformed several times over the years with their sound evolving with each new album. With the 1998 reformation, the band returned to the original three-Tony lineup and their original speed metal/thrash sound on 'Thrashback.' Apparently the band is once again disbanded though.

Bassist Tony Bono passed away in 2002 after suffering a heart attack, at the very young age of 38.

Ticket To Mayhem/Power & Pain
Whiplash - Power and Pain/Ticket to Mayhem
(Displeased) 1986/1987

1. "Stage Dive" (3:09)
2. "Red Bomb" (5:17)
3. "Last Man Alive" (3:31)
4. "Message in Blood" (4:04)
5. "War Monger" (3:17)
6. "Power Thrashing Death" (4:13)
7. "Stirring the Cauldron" (4:17)
8. "Spit on Your Grave" (2:48)
9. "Nailed to the Cross" (4:02)
10. "Perpetual Warfare" (1:40)
11. "Walk the Plank" (4:26)
12. "Last Nail in the Coffin" (4:36)
13. "Drowning in Torment" (3:51)
14. "The Burning of Atlanta" (4:55)
15. "Eternal Eyes (Last Nail in the Coffin part 2)" (3:24)
16. "Snake Pit" (3:54)
17. "Spiral of Violence" (5:46)
18. "Respect the Dead" (3:10)
19. "Perpetual Warfare" (1:41)

Fast and furious, many claim this obscure New Jersey based band was one of the best thrash bands to come out of the 80's. I'm not sure I would go that far, as there are some incredible bands that came out of that era, but certainly Whiplash are excellent. Compares to Destruction, early Testament and Voivod. This reissue was released in late 1999 or early 2000. The liner notes contain a promise of a new reunion disc and tour with all the original members. Hmmm, didn't that already happen?

Insult to Injury Whiplash - Insult to Injury (Roadracer/Displeased) 1989

1. "Voice of Sanity" (3:37)
2. "Hiroshima" (3:14)
3. "Insult to Injury" (2:42)
4. "Dementia Thirteen" (3:02)
5. "Essence of Evil" (5:59)
6. "Witness to the Terror" (3:58)
7. "Battle Scars" (4:27)
8. "Rape of the Mind" (2:29)
9. "Ticket to Mayhem" (4:07)
10. "4E.S" (3:17)
11. "Pistolwhipped" (2:44)
12. "Spit On the Grave" [live] (5:20)
13. "Red Bomb" [live] (3:27)
14. "Cyanide Grenade" [live] (4:08)
15. "Warmonger" [live] (3:35)
16. "Stagedive" [live] (2:58)

Finally got the last CD to complete my Whiplash collection, and oh what a CD it is. Enter new vocalist Glenn Hansen whose high pitched smooth vox and power metal like melodies really adds a new dimension to Whiplash. Even the music is tighter, less noisy, and seems to be a bit more technical. I'm not even sure if this should be labeled thrash or speed metal, as the galloping rhythms and melodic vocals tends to have more in common with bands like Powermad, Agent Steel, Laaz Rockit and Realm than with Destruction, Kreator or Slayer. Oddly enough there is a track called "Ticket to Mayhem" on this album, which was the name of the album that proceeded this album. I wonder if this track wasn't written for that album as it is much fast and much thrashier than most of the rest of "Insult to Injury". Regardless, of the band's early material, this is probably my favorite CD. The bonus tracks were all recorded live in New York 10/19/86.

Cult of One Whiplash - Cult Of One (Massacre) 1996

1. "Such is the Will" (6:21)
2. "No One's Idol" (5:24)
3. "No Fear to Tread" (5:13)
4. "1,000 Times" (6:52)
5. "Wheel of Misfortune" (5:23)
6. "Heavenaut" (7:50)
7. "Lost World" [instrumental] (5:26)
8. "Cult of One" (8:28)
9. "Enemy" (4:32)
10. "Apostle of Truth" (6:51)

"Cult of One" was the first reunion cd of Whiplash, although the band added a second guitarist and a vocalist and a different bassist. In the time that Whiplash was apart, Tony Scaglione had went on tour with Slayer, filling in for departing drummer Dave Lombardo. Tony Portaro put some time in with Pro-Pain, and both went on tour with Billy Milano and M.O.D. I can see some influences from all these bands in the new material. So, I suppose with so many new members contributing to the song writing, such a wealth of influences coming into the band and the amount of time spent apart no one should have expected Whiplash to sound the same as they did many years earlier. Problem was, many did and were disappointed. That's their loss. I actually like 'Cult of One' BETTER than much of their older material. Gone is the speed for speed's sake attitude, but it is replaced with a new quality songwriting ethic that is undeniable. I can't help but see a HUGE Black Sabbath influence in the new music. The doomy, mid-paced riffs and crushing guitar tones absolutely annihilate! While the band slowed it down some, they certainly didn't put away their aggression. Also the band's ability to write a heavy song with a hook is undeniable. And for those who were bummed out about the change in style, just skip down a few discs to 'Thrashback' when the band dumped the new players and returned to the original members and their thrash roots.

Sit Stand Kneel Prey Whiplash - Sit Stand Kneel Prey (Massacre) 1997

1. "Climb Out of Hell" (4:15)
2. "Left Unsaid" (4:08)
3. "Hitlist" (3:52)
4. "Cyanide Grenade" (4:12)
5. "Jane Doe" (4:14)
6. "Knock Me Down" (5:25)
7. "Lack of Contrition" (5:55)
8. "Word to the Wise" (4:11)
9. "Strangeface" (5:13)
10. "Catharsis" [instrumental] (1:21)
11. "Sit, Stand, Kneel, Prey" (6:47)

Man, these guys have broadened their sound, and for the better I might add. I love this disc and 'Cult of One.' There are still some vicious thrash assaults on this disc, but they have also realized there is a place for slower tempos, crushing grooves and some melody as well. There are some slightly more modern tones as well that I could live without, but I dig the doomy Black Sabbath vibe throughout. Overall, this one is very similar to 'Cult of One' and just as enjoyable.

Thrashback Whiplash - Thrashback (Massacre) 1998

1. "Temple of Punishment" (3:49)
2. "Stab" (2:42)
3. "This" (4:13)
4. "Killing On Monroe Street" (3:56)
5. "King With The Axe" (5:43)
6. "Strike Me Blind" [instrumental] (2:25)
7. "Memory Serves" (4:24)
8. "Ressurection Chair" (3:10)
9. "House With No Doors" (4:42)
10. "Thrash 'til Death" (2:36)
11. "Nails In Me Deep" (4:07)

After dabbling and experimenting with slower, less brutal forms of heavy metal and disbanding for a few months, a revived Whiplash returns with the original three Tonys (Tony Bono, Tony Portaro and Tony Scaglione). With the return of all the original members comes a return to their thrash metal roots of 'Ticket to Mayhem' and 'Insult to Injury.' From the album opener, through the end of the disc, one thing is for sure, this band has aged well. Whiplash excelled in the late 80's at speed, clean and fluid riffs and their knack for writing stellar material has not diminished one bit. One thing that has changed, however, is Tony Portaro's singing has improved immensely since those early albums. Despite the fact that many fans did not like the experimental albums, I loved them, but I was just as happy to hear a return to their thrash metal roots.

Messages in Blood Whiplash - Messages In Blood (Displeased) 1999

Thunderstruck demo
1. "King With the Axe" (5:27)
2. "Spit on Your Grave" (3:27)
3. "Thrash Til Death" (2:51)
4. "Chained up. Strapped Down" (4:07)
Looking Death in the Face demo
5. "The Burning of Atlanta" (5:17)
6. "Stirrin' the Cauldron" (4:17)
7. "Respect the Dead" (3:08)
8. "Last Man Alive" (3:32)
9. "Spit on Your Grave" (2:53)
Live Showplace, Dover, NJ 8/16/85
10. "Killing on Monroe Street" (3:52)
11. "Eternal Eyes" (7:21)
12. "Respect the Dead" (3:01)
13. "Stirrin' the Cauldron" (4:02)
14. "The Burning of Atlanta" (5:02)
15. "Nailed to the Cross" (4:02)
Live CBGB's, NYC, NY 11/27/85
16. "War Monger" (3:16)
17. "Message in Blood" (4:17)
18. "Nailed to the Cross" (4:04)
19. "Stagedive" (3:03)

There is a trend in the underground metal scene to release these compilations of old demo material and live cuts by bands with cult followings. What's nice about them is that they give a nice overview of the band's past as well as a bit of a history lesson on a scene that was new, fresh and fun. This is certainly true of 'Message in Blood' as it contains the band's first two demos, and some very rare live material. To go along with each demo and live performance there are notes by each of the three Tonys about what was going on at the time. Being that I grew up in the very state these guy came from and at the same time that metal was exploding in the States (around 1985) there is also a touch of nostalgia here. Reading about all the then fledgling bands I was into in high school and the emerging metal and hardcore scenes was a trip down memory lane. Of course the bad part about these compilations is the sound quality is usually not up to today's standards. Remember a time when albums like "Kill Em All," "Rock til You Drop," and "Killing is My Business" came out? No one cared about the crappy recording qualities! It was about an attitude, a unity of outcast metalheads, and a style that crushed your skull. So while the sound quality of this disc leaves a bit to be desired, those who grew up on this stuff will appreciate it despite the flaws. Looked through my high school year book the other day (Class of 1985), under my photo there were two sayings that I think are appropriate here, "Up The Irons" and "Metal Thrashing Mad!" Gotta love it!

Unborn Again Whiplash - Unborn Again (Pulverised Records) 2009

1.   Swallow the Slaughter (5:28)    
2.   Snuff (4:06)    
3.   Firewater (4:57)    
4.   Float Face Down (4:49)    
5.   Fight or Flight (4:01)    
6.   Pitbulls in the Playground (3:50)    
7.   Parade of Two Legs [instrumental] (3:42)    
8.   Hook in Mouth  (4:46)    
9.   I've Got the Fire (2:46)
10. Feeding Frenzy (4:36)

2009 was a good year for thrash. Besides all the new bands popping up, it also saw the release of new material from old guard bands like Artillery, At War, Hirax and Whiplash. "Unborn Again" is the seventh full length release from Whiplash and their first since the unfortunate passing of bassist Tony Bono in 2002. As with many of the old guard of thrash metal, Whiplash offer a lot of variety on "Unborn Again", from the pure thrash metal of "Snuff" and “Float Face Down”, to the speed metal of "Feeding Frenzy" and  "Pitbulls in Playground", to the hook-laden, mid-paced metal of "Hook in Mouth" to the rip-roaring Montrose cover "I’ve Got the Fire".  "Firewater" is a mid-paced hard rock song that has a riff that is reminiscent of B.T.O.'s' "Not Fragile".  "Swallow the Slaughter" is probably my favorite song on the CD, culling and refining their speed metal approach to near perfection. Each song possesses it’s own charm with many having tuneful choruses. Tony Portaro vocals are sung, rather than growled or shouted, though he does add a bit of throaty rawness as well as some high pitched screams.

I can already hear the cries from the current crop of thrash metal die-hards claiming this album to be a sellout because every song isn’t over-the-top speed. However, the best metal bands have always offered variety in their songwriting. It makes for a more interesting listen and avoids the problem of the album becoming one big boring blur. Rather than worry about pure speed, Whiplash have chosen to give each song it’s own personality. Whiplash are no sellouts. There are no down tuned guitars, they are not trying to be some death metal/thrash hyrbrid, nor are they trying to keep up with the current "old is new" crowd of thrash mongers. Whiplash are purebred old school heavy metal. Quite frankly, I like it and that’s all that really matters to me.

Cover artwork was created by well known artist Ed Repka.

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