October 31 - No Survivors - Thrash Corner Records 2004 Reviewed by: Agent of Steel
|Track Listing01. Powerhouse|
02. Rivet Rat
03. Commit To Sin
04. No Survivors
05. What Waits Beyond
06. Back Alley Murders
07. Wrecking Crew (OVERKILL cover)
Has it really been 4 years since “Meet Thy Maker” was released? October 31 has definitely had its’ ups and downs since their last full-length Heavy Metal album. With the second departure of rhythm guitarist Kevin Lewis, replaced by Scott Waldrop (Twisted Tower Dire) who made a small stint with Tony Taylor (also TTD) taking vocal duties over from King Fowley, still remaining a key member but giving up the vocal/front man position for a more melodic singer to concentrate on bashing the drum kit. Despite releasing a killer 7” single of a revamped “Salem’s Curse” backed with Judas Priest’s classic “Electric Eye”, that version of O31 just wasn’t meant to be. Again, changes needed to be made as Fowley recruited Dave Castillo (formally of Hatred/VA) who filled in briefly for the Wacken Festival with Fowley’s old school Death Metal attack Deceased and has now secured a permanent position in both bands. Jason Tedder (K-Octave) is the newest addition to O31 and without a doubt the best rhythm player O31 has ever had, hopefully putting a stop to the revolving door that is the rhythm guitar position. With all that confusion and headache behind them, the worst was yet to come as Fowley fell ill from not one but two near death blood clots and a stroke.
Thankfully, it’ll take more than that to stop the motor mouth madman of Heavy Metal and the demo sessions of the new O31 commenced with the release of original track “Powerhouse”, “Missing in Action” (Q5), and “Wrecking Crew” (Overkill). After deciding long ago to drop themselves from Metal Blade Records and be released independently from Fowley’s own Battlezone Records, the final decision was to go with Puerto Rico’s Thrash Corner Records for the long overdue “No Survivors” album. So yeah, I guess it has been 4 years and further proves that a lot can happen in all that lost time. Fear not, “No Survivors” was worth the wait!
“No Survivors” starts out with “Powerhouse”, a song that had been receiving much praise as old Metal fans starved for new October 31. The LP version, tamer than the demo that circulated for months is still effective as a speedy, sing along opening track. Castillo’s double bass drumming adds an element that’s never been heard on any O31 recording as “Powerhouse” is the fastest song since “The Warlock”. “Rivet Rat” brings you back to the classic O31 sound but yet again shows more thrash-like elements with some of the heaviest riffing yet. “Commit to Sin” begins with a riff torn straight from any classic Saxon album shortly leading you to believe this is one of the best O31 tracks yet. With an extremely catchy chorus and interesting bass fills from Jim Hunter (While Heaven Wept/Twisted Tower Dire) around the 2:20 mark followed by my favorite guitar lick on the album reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s “Drifter”. The title track is yet another speed/thrasher, consisting of d-beat drumming, muted 16th notes and fast down picking that could have very well been off “Bonded by Blood”. “What Waits Beyond” is another winner in the catchy chorus department and I can’t help but think of classic Armored Saint after Fowley lets loose a raspy snarl mere seconds into the song. The sampled spoken part adds depth to an already stellar track. Up until this point “No Survivors” is a flawless record as “Back Alley Murders” begins with more d-beat drumming leading you to expect yet another excellent thrasher from Fowley and company. While being far from a filler track, “Back Alley Murders” just doesn’t quite cut it compared to the rest of the album and only brings things down a notch, definitely the most forgettable track on “No Survivors”. Of course, no October 31 album is complete without a classic Heavy Metal cover song. “Wrecking Crew” couldn’t have been a more fitting choice for this album. Everything that was and is great about the original has been done justice, taking a classic, injecting it with steroids as Brian “Hellstorm” Williams adds his own lead part in the intro riff followed by Fowley’s shrieks, holding a striking resemblance to Stacey “Sheepdog” McLaren (Razor). “Misfortune” closes out this
long-awaited release and the thrashing stops here. Borrowing the verse riffs heavily from “The Eagle Has Landed” (Saxon) “Misfortune” is doom and gloom in the vein of “The Legend of the Haunted Sea” and “When Darkness Covers the Sun”. Mood setting slow riffing begins as the epic track storms further with lung shattering screams from Fowley, an acoustic piece in the middle, ending more up tempo with zany lead work from Williams, fading out with a nice touch, a child’s voice to leave more than a lasting impression.
“No Survivors” is an aggressive take no prisoners comeback album from October 31. With layered rhythm tracks (six if I remember correctly) and the majority of the album consisting of 100 mph anthems backed with gang vocals (unheard of from O31 up until this point although sometimes too much for its own good). The production is their heaviest to date. To think I only have the advanced un-mastered copy. King Fowley’s vocals are some of his best yet, you’d never believe he’s now operating on one lung. Giving up alcohol has its benefits when you’re screaming for one of the best current US Heavy Metal bands. Hellstorm’s super shredding and dive bomb guitar leads are nothing short of spectacular as always. Shitting all over the disappointing, yet still pleasing at times, “Meet Thy Maker” album, “No Survivors” will see an official release sooner than later. Look and listen for the return of October 31 in a grimy club near you!
--Agent of Steel 12.07.04