C O L U M N S

Rusted Metal

Ruthless - Discipline of Steel

By: Mojo
Published: Thursday, July 1, 2004
Ruthless are exactly what they say they are, choosing the perfect band monicker to describe their "fight fire with fire" sound, a prevailing onslaught of sonic destruction and mayhem that crushed the metal masses and proved that American thrash was the only way of life. Unfortunately, nobody was listening.

Ruthless were an aggressive, power-thrash band from California, formed in 1983 by vocalist Sami D. and guitarist Kenny McGee. After playing up and down the west coast, headlining their own shows, and opening for larger acts like Leatherwolf and Slayer, Ruthless finally got the break they needed.

In 1984, the band released their first recording, a five song EP called "Metal Without Mercy". The EP did very well for the band, especially in Europe where it sold out of its original pressing. "Metal Without Mercy" was a raw look at the backstreets of classic thrash sounds, with plenty of influence from other bands like Anthrax (Fistful Of Metal), Jag Panzer (Ample Destruction), Metallica (Kill 'Em All), and early Exciter (Long Live The Loud).

After seeing a small bit of success with the EP, Ruthless hit the studio to record the ultimate 80s power-thrash album, an aggressive assault entitled "Discipline of Steel" in 1985. With their first full-length record, the group displayed a veteran approach on the now classic sounds of the early 80s, showing that the EP was influenced by bigger American bands, but now, with their own album, Ruthless could steal the show, pick up the reigns, and run with the devil.

Scorchers like "Know No Evil" and "Raiders Of The Night" thrashed out of control and over the top, with crunchy, quick riffage ala Jag Panzer and Agent Steel, with vocalist Sami D. sounding very unique, not quite committing to complete falsetto vocals like so many other bands at that time, instead delivering a rough and tumble approach, almost sounding like Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P) or even Eric Adams (Manowar) at times, but stopping every now and then to scream out those highs ala Halford. "Ancient Warrior" showcased pure Sabbath worship, while "Run For Your Life" razzled and dazzled in pure New Wave fashion, as good as Grim Reaper or Savage, rounding out a talented crew that could play all the metal genres, doom, thrash, new wave, power, hard rock, etc., but still kept it fresh and modern.

Like so many great bands during this time period, Ruthless just never came into contact with the right folks. After a promising EP and a spectacular debut album, the group never made any more material. I honestly feel that Ruthless could have been on par with Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, or Metallica in pure sonic fury, mastering all the right controls and frequencies, but never meeting and greeting the right suit and tie guy. Its a real shame we never got to hear anymore, but they left us two metal gems to treasure and worship.

I guess that's the true "discipline of steel".


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