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Strikemaster - "Vicious Nightmare" (CD)

Strikemaster - "Vicious Nightmare" CD cover image

"Vicious Nightmare" track listing:

1. Vicious Nightmare
2. Black Violence
3. Total Disposal
4. Inflexible Steel
5. Metal Fastkill
6. Rabid Abstraction
7. Prophetic Chemical Death
8. The Way to Nha Trang
9. Violent Reivindication
10. SBU
11. Final

Reviewed by on January 26, 2012

"Strikemaster need to distinguish themselves much more, since 'Vicious Nightmare' is highly forgettable."

"Vicious Nightmare" is actually a reissue of the second album Strikemaster put out in 2009 on the Brazilian record label Marquee that is seeing new light on MetalHit Records. I had heard all sorts of commentaries extolling the virtues of this sophomore release from these Mexican thrashers, saying how old-school and solid an album it is. Their first album "Up for the Massacre" had some decent melodies to it, so I expected more of the same on this one.

After giving it a spin, I have to concur that Strikemaster has more of an 80's thrash sound this time around, but not in an appealing way. "Vicious Nightmare" is basic old-school thrash that all too often fails to convey any personality in the music. After the eponymous quick title intro, "Black Violence" comes right off an assembly line of basic fast riffs supplemented with bass lines. As one of the longer tracks, you expect it to change up a bit and go somewhere, but it falls flat. "Total Disposal" at least fleshes the song out with more interesting lead flourishes, but vocalist Col. Kmu kills it. He sings fast, but it sounds more like he's engaged in a one-sided shouting match with someone.

The vocals detract from some decent moments here and there on "Vicious Nightmare." Take the song "The Way to Nha Trang," a fast thrashing Indochinan war parable. Here, Strikemaster tries throwing in some platoon elements, such as the intro drums and a military bugle about a minute later. It comes off sounding bizarre, since it was just inserted between the height of all the thrashing. The backing vocals and the choruses get a bit cliche in this song as well. The drumming in "Inflexible Steel" starts off nicely, but seems to stumble into a faster rhythm and spends most of the duration catching up. In "Rapid Abstraction," the vocalist does better in the slower interludes, but sounds strained when he tries to spew it all out at machine gun pace. It might have been better if he sang in his native Spanish in terms of his lyrics flowing.

The other songs on "Vicious Nightmare" have that interchangeability factor to them. You could switch one title with another and not even be aware of it, unless you are fast forwarding to try to find a better track. That's how formulaic this album is. Sure it's old-school, but songs like "Metal Fastkill" sound just like bland 80's thrash similar to bands such as EXE or Anvil Bitch - ones that went down the obscurity trail. Choruses such as, "Iron steel attack...guided missiles," get downright corny. A track such as "Prophetic Chemical Death" would have been interesting if it had some dimension to it, rather than the same riffing scales and flourishes of leads that just make it predictable. As it turns out, the last song "Final" is the most interesting and it was a short outro. Strikemaster utilizes distorted guitars to assimilate bomb blasts in that one.

If Strikemaster is going to reissue an album, make it one that's essential for people to hear. "Vicious Nightmare" is far too generic to be remembered. If this were the 80's and there were only a dozen bands out there, you might be able to get away with this. Nowadays, you have to step it up a bit and be your best. Strikemaster need to distinguish themselves much more, since "Vicious Nightmare" is highly forgettable.

Highs: Occasional good moments of 80's thrash

Lows: Songs are way too generic and forgettable

Bottom line: Too many similar songs and cliches to render a second spin out of "Vicious Nightmare."

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)