Joel Grind // The Yellowgoat Sessions
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — When goats attack!
Label: Hells’s Headbangers Records
Websites: joelgrind.com | joelgrind.bandcamp.com
Release Dates: Out worldwide on 05.28.2013
Whoa! Steel Druhm did not expect this thing to kick anywhere near as much ass as it does. In fact, this is an insidious ass-kicking machine, free from the lab and turned loose on mankind with naught but ill intent. The author of this wanton hiney massacre is one Joel Grind, the force behind the old school, retro thrash band Toxic Holocaust. Between albums he apparently felt the burning need to craft this hugely lethal collection of thrash anthems under this eponymous project name. While I’m quite a fan of the Toxic Holocaust discography, I was still blown away by the quality and power of this throwback to the days of thrash infancy. The Yellowgoat Sessions is filled with dirty, low-tech, mega-primitive, Neanderthal thrash that sounds as if it was meant to be on the original Bathory album. In fact, the production sounds identical to that album, right down to the twangy, trebly guitar sound (go spin the song “War” off that album to get an idea what I mean). The music can also be compared to the weird Motorhead-worshipping stuff that modern-day Darkthrone has been spewing out, but this is way more pissed off, full of venom (literally and figuratively) and steeped in nutsackitude. It’s punky, crude, sloppy, choppy and about as metal as metal gets. In fact, every time you spin this, Croatia suffers a precious metal shortage. If you haven’t gotten in the skull tank yet, you never ever will.
Most of Yellowgoat is up-tempo thrash from the days of yore and songs like “Hell’s Master of Hell” (notify the Department of Redundancy Department), “Vengeance Spell” and “Cross Damnation” will leave you tarred, feathered and doing the chicken dance at the wedding of Bathory and Slayer. The riffs are simple, but awesomely hooky and the unrelenting aggression is both endearing and hilariously overdone. Joel’s committment to over-the-top, old school speed and slobbering vocals brings to mind the long forgotten, but brilliant Utter Hell album by Inferno, which would be a perfect companion piece to this (as would a case of really cheap beer). Just listen to the hyperactive riffing and out-of-control vibe on “Grave Encounters” and you will be sold. Even when things shift suddenly to pure Hellhammer worship during “The Eternal One,” the plodding, monolithic riffs are a pleasure to experience and hit like a ton.
This collection of eight songs work best as a whole and none of them is weak or dull. It isn’t easy to make thrash this much fun or hooky, but Joel Grind managed it somehow. Most of the tracks run only two or three minutes, so they never overstay their welcome and the whole thing lasts a scant twenty-five minutes including intro and outro. That feels like the perfect length too, since anything longer might begin to trigger thrash fatigue.
Joel plays all the instruments and in the process, shows a real ear for riffs and song writing, especially on runaway trains like “Grave Encounters” (which has a slight hint of old Exciter) and “Vengeance Spell.” His vocals are a one-trick-pony distorted rasp not too far removed from Quorthon (R.I.P.) and while it has no subtlety or nuance, it surely works and definitely fits. The drumming is simplistic, but it keeps pace and keeps things on the attack.
Sure, there’s enough re-thrash out there to choke Cthulhu, but this is different because it goes SO FAR back to the roots of the genre. Instead of trying to sound like Exodus or Sodom, Joel takes the weird, proto-black metal sound of Bathory and blends in just the right amount of Razor and Motorhead to reach the truly rarefied air of old school shitbomb destruction. It sounds hostile as hell, but more importantly, refreshing and 100% authentic.
If you miss the primordial days of black and thrash metal, The Yellowgoat Sessions has a huge can of whoop ass waiting just for you. I can’t think of any recent thrash album that made me want to go on an interstate rampage as much as this does. As old farmer McDonald used to say, “get on that goat and ride it to Hell and back!” What a weird guy he was….