Of all the metal genres that made up the soundtrack for my misspent teen years, it’s speed and early thrash that speak most to my “rebellious stage.” Acts like Razor, Exciter, Whiplash had that crucial blend of rough, raw rowdiness that made you want to throw cinderblocks through store windows and overturn burning cars. This dynamic greatly appealed to the youthful knuckle-dragging version of Steel1 and I played their albums so often, so loudly that my poor mother seriously considered putting me into the Russian foster care system. Warsenal is a throwback speed trio hailing from Canada, and much like their countrymen Razor, they want to bring the iron hammer down on you with merciless aggression and bestial wengeance. Their sophomore outing is speed for speed sake, with everything carefully curated to sound like it was belched out between the years 1983 – 1986. Since most of the end product sounds like Razor recorded an album with Destruction after a 5-day bender and a few sketchy jazz lessons, I support their mission statement and I support Feast Your Eyes.2
This is a wild, unhinged, hyper-kinetic good time with more riffs packed into its 36-plus minutes than you can digest in a month. It has that classic speed metal insanity sound down, and most of the material feels as if it’s on the very edge of controlled mayhem, and the slightest misstep would send the whole enchilada through the guardrails and off the cliff toward a fiery conflagration.3 Opener “Forever Lost” opens sounding like a weird neo-folk tune before the switch flips hard and the speed assault ensues. The sound and style is vintage Razor, but with Schmier from Destruction at the mic, which is something I didn’t know I needed in my life, but always did. There is no way to spin this song and not want to join the nearest riot, the energy is just too intense. The main riff if perfectly classic and this is speed as speed is meant to be done – infectious, blood pressure elevating fun for all. “I Am the Blade” keeps the good times flying high, upping the speed while introducing a weird sort of free-form jazz swing to the berserkering, thereby making the blistering pace all the more unstable and unpredictable. Some of the riffs feel like they belong on Destruction‘s Release From Agony, and the oddball jazz diversions makes the whole package hit you like a iron-plated smackerel.
There’s one scorcher after another, with entertaining dividends paid by “Lords of Rifftown” and “Insatiable Hunger,” both brimming with crazy leads and chaotic change ups, with the latter sounding more like classic Destruction than Destruction has in decades. The title track is also a serious nod to those German speed-mongers, and closer “Crystal Whip” takes the classic speed metal sound and throws in a fleet of riffs that seem like they were meant for Megadeth‘s debut along with chaotic time signatures that Voivod would lustily approve of. The only sour patch comes on “Burning Ships” which goes too crazy with the jazz fusion and becomes too herky-jerky, like several songs stitched together by a first year med student with a horse tranquilizer habit. There’s a good song in there, but it gets lost in the Voivoidian lunacy the band overindulges in.
What’s most fascinating about Feast Your Eyes is how all over the damn place the guitar-work is. It’s so busy and scattershot, it sounds like there are 3 guitarists all going ape shit in different directions. In reality it’s just one man: Mat, the guitarist/vocalist, and he is a busy chap. I’m not sure how the band could pull these songs off live, but I’d love to see them try. There are so many funky, freaky, speedy riffs adorning this platter, it’s a small wonder the band didn’t have to pay some kind of riff luxury tax. It’s outstanding stuff. There’s a prominent bass presence as well courtesy of Jeffrey Millaire, and his little bass solos provide fun accents to the high speed insanity. Drummer Vincent is asked to hit everything he can find as fast and loud as possible and he does so impressively, becoming a whirling metal dervish for the bulk of the album’s runtime. This is a tight, turbulent trio of truculence and they sound like they’re having the time of their lives blasting these tunes out. That’s the sign of a fun album.
Feast Your Eyes is a rip-roaring, take no prisoners dose of speed metal, and I can’t spin it without laughing and jumping around like an idiot man-child. That should be all the average speed/thrash aficionado needs to hear. Get this and play it loudly until you too end up just another statistic in the ledgers of the Russian child rearing complex. Welcome to Rifftown. Population: You.
- And it still appeals to wise, elder statesmen Steel, though with my trick knee I shouldn’t be overturning anything besides a magnum of hobo wine. ↩
- Not so much that cover art though. ↩
- This brings to mind the famous quote from Mario Andretti: If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough. ↩