One of first major Thrash bands of the 80s, one of the Big Four (inc Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica), and one of the few from the East Coast (NYC). Formed by guitarist Scott Ian and Dan Liker in 1981, and over the years have seen a number of line-up changes, hit singles and even a dabble in rap/metal crossover. The band have recorded with 3 lead vocalists, most notable Joey Belladonna and John Bush.
The band’s 1984 debut, Fistful Of Metal, featuring vocalist Neil Turbin, was a solid if rough’n’ready affair. This album, Spreading The Disease, was their 1985 2nd album and also cemented the now classic line-up of vocalist Joey Belladonna, guitarists Scott Ian and Dan Spitz, bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante (Benante the only recording constant member alongside Scot Ian). The album was originally released on Megaforce / Island. Major label indeed. Expanded to 2 full CDs (Benante a noted archivist), this 30th anniversary edition highlights one of the finest thrash albums ever made.
Disc 1, the original album, kicks off with ‘A.I.R.’, a high energy uptempo metal number with Belladona’s vocals bright and fresh (a pleasant contrast for the thrash scene in general), the hard guitar riffs driving throughout. Lone Justice is bass driven from the intro and catchy, and a Metallica-esque guitar solo. ‘Madhouse’ is an absolute classic with an appropriate horror feel, and ‘Armed And Dangerous’ (almost delicate guitar) are as good as traditional thrash get.
The whole album is genre defining and is, in its own right, an essential metal album. From the high tempo riffing and shredding, pounding rhythms and Belladona’s perfect vocals (he was to thrash what David Byron was to hard rock).
Not only is the sound on this album fantastic, but there’s a 2nd disc. A Joey Belladonna demo of ‘Medusa’, several 1987 live tracks from Sun Plaza, Tokyo (now this is a good live show) and a number of 1984 rhythm tracks.
While this album would always live in the shadow of its commercially more successful and polished successor ‘Among The Living’, this is just wonderful on every level. Metal Thrashing Mad indeed. 9/10