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Papsmear - "Music to Kill By" (Digipak)

Papsmear - "Music to Kill By" Digipak cover image

"Music to Kill By" track listing:

1. Requiem
2. Reign Of Terror
3. Die Killing
4. Paptest
5. Strangler
6. Vivisection
7. Daddy's Little Princess
8. Incorrigibly Wicked
9. Paptest (Live)
10. Strangler (Live)
11. Death Row (Live)
12. Die Killing (Live)
13. Thrashicide (Live)
14. Drum Solo (Live)
15. Vivisection (Live)
16. Requiem (Live)
17. Reign Of Terror (Live)
18. Positive Farce (Live)
19. Vivisection (Live)
20. Death Row (Live)
21. Paptest (Live)
22. Strangler (Live)
23. Thrashicide (Live)
24. Incorrigibly Wicked (Live)
25. Daddy's Little Princess (Live)

Reviewed by on July 16, 2009

"For all their nostalgic fun, the demos on 'Music To Kill By' are really by-the-numbers thrash with pretty poor sound quality."

Everyone's got a favorite local band. They're the guys you go see at the corner tavern or the Battle of the Bands when you want to go hang out and have a beer with friends. They're the guys you see when you can't afford to go to the Kiss or Metallica concert that you'd really like to see.

They aren't usually the guys you'd like to see get a CD/DVD combo release years after they break up — unless you're former Century Media and Metal Blade executive Marco Barbieri. Barbieri decided that the first release on his new M-Theory Audio would be "Music To Kill By," a collection of just about every demo and live show available of his hometown favorites, Papsmear.

Papsmear was a Las Vegas thrash band featuring Tony Costanza, who played with Machine Head and Crowbar, and Steve Bray, who'd later play with the Bullet Boys.

For the first couple tracks, "Music To Kill By" is a fun little bit of nostalgia. The disc opens with a fun instrumental, "Requiem," which shows off the band's chops. Then, it's off to that 80's metal staple topic, World War II, for "Reign Of Terror," which can't help but remind one of Slayer's "Angel Of Death."

Then, "Die Killing" takes us to Vietnam — arguably the most song-written war in history. This is another fun thrasher, though Tony Costanza's vocals start wearing a little thin.

Another metal staple, the serial killer, gets a thorough workout in "Strangler," in which the title character is also, among other things, an ax-murderer.

Finally, we have that weird sub-genre of late 1980's and early 1990's, "incest metal," along the lines of Aerosmith's "Janie's Got A Gun," and Motorhead's "Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me," as the band sings of "Daddy's Little Princess," who's violated seven ways to Sunday by her father and becomes a junkie prostitute.

For all their nostalgic fun, the demos on "Music To Kill By" are really by-the-numbers thrash with pretty poor sound quality. The one exception might be "Incorrigibly Wicked," which features the disc's best production, along with a decent solo. After that come 17 live tracks of varying bad quality, and a DVD of several live shows that make Metallica's "Cliff 'Em All" seem like a an IMAX production.

I can understand Barbieri's wish to bring back a local favorite, and it's not like Costanza and Bray didn't go on to bigger things. Still, unless you saw Papsmear back in the day or are some kind of thrash completist, it's probably best to avoid "Music To Kill By."

Highs: Early demos have a certain nostalgic charm, and "Incorrigibly Wicked" is a genuinely good, well-produced song.

Lows: Sound quality is terrible — especially on the live tracks, and the songs are mostly nothing to write home about.

Bottom line: Unless you were a fan of these Vegas thrashers in their 80's heyday, you'll want to avoid this one.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)