Sunday Old School: Razor
In 2008, a highly anticipated documentary entitled, "Get Thrashed" was released on DVD. For those of you who bought it, you may remember a segment in the bonus features where Municipal Waste guitarist, Ryan Waste states that, "If you live in Canada there’s no reason to be pissed off. That band sounds so god damned pissed off." The group in question is one that formed in 1984 in Guelph, Ontario and who goes by the name of Razor. The band was fronted by singer Stace "Sheepdog" McLaren, who was joined in his metal endeavour by guitarist Dave Carlo, Mike Embro on drums and bassist Mike Campagnolo. They worked hard on creating their music, taking inspiration from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement and the blossoming thrash metal scene, eventually resulting in their self-financed and self-produced album, "Escape the Fire," which was released the same year, before they signed with Voice Records for another 1984 release, the "Armed and Dangerous" EP, which was also self-financed and quickly sold out of its 1200 pressings. The EP spread around the metal scene and garnered the band a deal with Canadian label, Attic Records.
Now on a proper label, Razor quickly recorded their official debut full length, "Executioner’s Song," which was comprised mostly of material from and written during "Armed and Dangerous." It was an underground hit and led to the band being considered one of the most extreme in Canada at that time. Although it was only released in April 1985, the band would release a second full length only six months later, in the form of the frankly excellent, "Evil Invaders," which is considered by many today to be a classic album in the thrash metal genre. The record spawned the bands first music video for the title track and helped them gain even more attention when they toured with such big names and cult favourites as Slayer, Venom and Motorhead in Canada and the United States.
Buoyed by the response to "Evil Invaders," Razor returned to the studio to record their next album, "Malicious Intent." However, they were dealt a huge blow when Attic failed to release the album in the United States, damaging the impact they were attempting to make on the popular thrash scene. This almost complete lack of promotion and distribution led the group to request that their contract be ripped up, which Attic agreed to.
Without a label, the band decided to shake things up and self-financed their next album, "Custom Killing," which was then released in the summer of 1987 through Fist Fight Records. It marked another change for the band as it was the final Razor album to include Mike Embro on drums and Mike Campagnolo on bass, who were soon replaced by Rob Mills and Adam Carlo (brother of guitarist, Dave Carlo) respectively. It remains something of a collector’s item, as it was never released on CD.
This new lineup of the band wasted little time in getting to work on new material, which hit the shelves the next year in the form of "Violent Restitution." The chainsaw on the front cover perfectly summed up the guitar tone that Dave Carlo utilised on the record, married to the perhaps career best vocals of McLaren. Despite the positive response of thrash fans, McLaren had by now became disinterested in the band and was let go, with SFH vocalist Bob Reid stepping in as his replacement.
Reid made his Razor debut on their sixth studio album, "Shotgun Justice." Despite the front cover being included on several "worst album covers" lists, the music itself represented Razor at their very best, earning a perfect score from Classic Thrash and endearing itself to all headbangers who heard it. The record also spawned two more music videos, this time for the title track and the song, "American Luck." The videos were unable to bring the group the commercial success they were looking for and touring in support of the album peaked with headlining club shows, supported by fellow Canadian thrashers, Sacrifice.
"Shotgun Justice" would unfortunately mark the last album to feature Mills, who suffered an accident leaving him unable to play. Instead of bringing in a new drummer, Dave Carlo mimicked his style on a drum synthesizer for their next album, "Open Hostility." Although it was perhaps the most aggressive Razor album to date, it was more or less ignored by the media and many metal fans, owing the explosion in popularity of grunge music, something which saw the demise of metal’s popularity and before long, Razor themselves, who folded after the release of "Open Hostility."
In 1996, Reid suggested to Dave Carlo that they bring Razor back from the dead, something Carlo was rather reluctant to do at first. Eventually however, he was talked in to it and with new bassist Jon Armstrong and drummer Rich Oosterbosch in tow, the band recorded a new album, "Decibels" under the Razor name. A tour followed to promote the record, after which the band once again became comatose, at least until Adam Carlo and Rob Mills returned to the fold, after which they performed at Germany’s, Wacken Open Air festival. Since then the band has continued to perform sporadically, mostly at festivals but plans are in place to re-release their old albums, as well recording their first new album since 1997. No date has been set as to when fans can expect to hear new material, but thrashers world wide will be hoping it’s soon, as it’s definitely been far too long since rockers have been treated to new music from one of Canada’s finest metal bands.
Razor - "Evil Invaders"
Razor - "Night Attack"
Razor - "Last Rites"
Razor - "Violent Restitution"
Razor - "American Luck"
Razor - "Sucker For Punishment"
Razor - "Great White Lie"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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