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Death-R-Us

Battalion of Saints

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Album Review

Fast, quick, and brutal — that was the Battalion of Saints way, perhaps all the more necessary considering the band's fairly conservative surroundings in San Diego. Collecting the original Fighting Boys EP and Second Coming album from the early '80s, plus a number of other random tracks from compilations and singles, Death-R-Us kicks out the early American hardcore jams darn well. While never on the level of Minor Threat or the like, the Saints did the business in a series of short, sharp shocks. The production isn't as thin as some contemporaneous releases out there — a definite plus for those looking for more oomph in their music — but the reason for listening is singer George Anthony. He's got a knack for good choruses and has a fairly clear voice. Rather than simple braying, he actually makes an effort to forcefully sing, at least from time to time. The bandmembers, meanwhile, mostly just serve up your basic catchy bash and crash, but are sharp enough to throw in some quick soloing or weird harmonics on guitar to make things interested. In a smart tip of the hat to not entirely unexpected roots, a competent rip through Motorhead's definitive hit "Ace of Spades" pops up towards the end. Anthony's vocals can't match Lemmy's unique growl, but it's good fun nonetheless. As a bonus, two wholly new songs by the mid-'90s lineup (with the additional "A.D." as a distinguishing difference) appear at the start; given that practically everyone aside from Anthony had died, he recruited various veterans from such bands as U.K. Subs for a touring lineup. Anthony's voice still leads the gang-shout choruses with just enough attitude to stand out from the crowd — occasional voice-shredding on the verses aside — while the three new guys discharge their duties fine enough.

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Death-R-Us, Battalion of Saints
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