Transgressive – Extreme Transgression Review

System of a Down’s Mezmerize was the first metal album I ever purchased. As a result, the concept of metal music as a vehicle for leftist politics was normalized for me from the very beginning. Granted, at twelve years old I didn’t really get it, my confusion owing to the political ignorance of my youth. But that record (especially “B.Y.O.B.”), for all its lyrical abstraction and oddball elegance, still managed to make its discontent of Bush-era American culture crystal clear to my adolescent mind. I relay this story to emphasize my longstanding comfort with politically provocative music, so that it might actually mean something when I say that I find Extreme Transgression inherently uncomfortable. And it’s all the better for it; Transgressive’s debut LP pulls absolutely no punches, ensuring that its overtly melodic brand of thrash metal is supremely impactful, while also being utterly addictive.

Transgressive strikes me as a novel melding of post-Endorama Kreator and Judicator (tragically disbanded in 2020; R.I.P.). The latter influence comes as no surprise, as both guitarist/vocalist Alicia Cordisco and guitarist Joshua Payne are Judicator alums. Cordisco has an extremely distinct style of writing lead guitar melodies, which translate over to Transgressive in a work of black magic. Her leads, formerly anthemic and playful, are here effortlessly recontextualized as tense and bittersweet, giving Extreme Transgression a distinctly emotive melodic stamp. The lyrics impact with the force of an orbital cannon and are deathly allergic to metaphor and subtlety, but the trick to Transgressive’s approachability is that, despite the lyrics, the music is relatively reserved. What could have been an outright spectacle of unbridled rage is balanced by a relatively reserved tempo, paving the way for accessible, catchy thrash riffs that will stay in your head for days.

Not all of Extreme Transgression is so straightforward, however, with multiple tracks exuding notable melodic death metal influence. “Bury Me in Rainbow Flags” is the lead example, with its quickfire drumming and adventurous leads making it a highlight of the record. The surprisingly technical “Assimilation of Civilization” surprises as well, its bouncy central riff being my favorite Transgressive riff thus far, supported further by quirky verse tremolo runs that would be entirely at home in Xoth’s catalog. Transgressive’s more traditional cuts are universally solid, especially the electric title track and the deliciously dark “Feet to the Fire,” but by the end of its forty-one minutes, some of them begin to blur together a bit for me. Tracks like “Built on Genocide” and “Unheard Voices” feel somewhat like funhouse mirror reflections of each other’s galloping personas, and could benefit from a few defining features to help them stand out from each other, and the album as a whole.

Even when repetition infrequently threatens to set in, I remain constantly riveted with Extreme Transgression thanks to Brett Windnagle’s impeccable production. Dynamic and polished while still maintaining a rebellious edge, this is absolutely one of the better-sounding independent releases I’ve heard, programmed drums and all (which Windnagle himself also handled). This means that Leona Hayward’s (Northern Crown, Skelator) bass performances are allowed to be a vital part of the mix, anchoring the proceedings with significant weight. Special mention must be made of Cordisco’s vocals as well, her signature snarl bearing a Warbringer-esque anarchic edge, with certain lyric deliveries being absolutely delightful (see: the palpable venom spewed in the delivery of “You’re a traitorous wretch!” in “Landlord Liquifier”).

I’ve already spoken of Transgressive’s careful balance of tactical songwriting paired with caustically blunt lyrical delivery, but for all of its anger, I feel that the end message of Extreme Transgression is an optimistic one. The title track lays this plain, calling for class cooperation against oppressors who seek to pit members of the working caste against one another for superficial or outright artificial reasons. It may be imperfect, but I find Extreme Transgression to be so fucking smart in the way it balances all of these ideas in service of a fun-ass thrash record, one that is frequently surprising and resonant on multiple levels. If all of that still isn’t enough to sell you on it, please consider once more that this album contains a song called “Landlord Liquifier.”

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: transgressivethrash.bandcamp.com1
Releases Worldwide: March 3rd, 2023

Show 1 footnote

  1. All proceeds from album/merch sales of this record will be donated to Trans Lifeline.
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