Some ideas sound great in theory. Fewer look good when put to paper. That crucial step of transforming an idea from paper into reality? Well, let’s just say only the best of the bunch should see the harsh light of day. Taking three of metal’s premier wailers and screamers and having them lustily compete with one another for an album’s worth of over-the-top manic hysteria is not such a worthy concept. Aptly named The Three Tremors, this project features Tim “Ripper” Owens (ex-Judas Priest, ex-Iced Earth), Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin (Jag Panzer, Satan’s Host), and Sean (no cool nickname) Peck (Cage, Denner/Sherman). While each is a respectable to solid frontman in his own right1, all are prone to infernal overkill and capable of air raid-y excess when let off the leash. And folks, here the shock collars are off, the dogs are foaming at the mouth and running wild in the streets. In a nutshell this self-titled opus is a clunky collection of painfully generic metal cuts written by Peck and performed by his backing band, Cage, over which our Three Amigos attempt to outscream, outshriek and outmetal one another. No one apparently considered how this behavior might impact the songs themselves. If you can imagine a group of 8-year old girls having their beloved puppies forcibly taken from them over and over again for 50-plus minutes, then you know what awaits. It’s burning metal wreckage with no winners, and few survivors (all of which are deaf). I could end things here, but since these chaps put so much effort into this release, I feel compelled to do the same.
For a vanity project like this to have any chances of succeeding, it needs first-rate songs for the talent to unload on. This truism seems to have gone in the dumpster along with nuance and subtlety. As opening pen through the eardrum “Invaders From the Sky” makes landfall, it’s quickly apparent the album is going to play out like a parody of metal written by people who hate metal. It’s the most awful take on traditional metal I’ve heard in a long time, the vocal placement is a mess as each singer does a line in succession, the lyrics are grade school level, and the songcraft is flat-out embarrassing. There’s not a hook or high point to grab you, just endless high notes as the trio of terror scream and rage against the dying of this godawful blight. And they’re just getting started, folks.
“Bullets for the Damned” sounds like something that was wisely cut from Judas Priest‘s reviled Demolition release, with Ripper in particular overdoing things to the nth degree. It’s bad. “When the Last Scream Fades” offers some faint hope this collaboration can craft a respectable song, as it’s more restrained and the trio of treble don’t step all over each other quite as much. The backing music is also a step up, sounding like an average Cage tune. Hardly an ace song, but it’s at least passable. “Wrath of Asgard” is also semi-decent, with Tyrant taking the lead role and making the best of a bad situation. From there, things fall back into schlock and toxic metal parody with nuggets like “King of the Monsters” and “The Pit Shows No Mercy,” both of which make me want to decamp to the nearest Walmart to chug large quantities of hobo wine from a Pringles™ can.
Most of the songs are simply not good (read as: hot garbage) regardless who mans the mic, and almost all of them run too long. The album is an unmanageable 52-plus minutes without the 6-minute bonus track (which is actually somewhat listenable), and considering the brickwalled production and how dominant the shrieking vocals are, that’s far too much of this stuff to sit through without actually developing three types of tremors. Of the vocal heavyweights, Tyrant fares best here, which is like saying you won a shit throwing contest because you have the least amount on you. He’s easily the most controlled and polished singer of the three and doesn’t limit himself to teeny-booper screeching like Owens and Peck are wont to do. By way of comparison, a fellow AMG writer, upon sampling the promo, thought someone was doing a bad Ripper Owens impression. I had to tell him it was Owens himself doing a bad Owens. He was sad. Such is life in the Tremors tank.
A wise olde uncle once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” With this mantra in mind, it’s hard to believe these three metal maniacs actually sat through the final master and not one of them spoke up to say, “This was fun and I love you guys, but let’s not release it.” I wish someone did, as I’m not even sure 11-year old Steel would have bought into this dumpster fire. Looks like our beef with Ripper will endure for the foreseeable future. Sorry about that.