Sadus - Out For Blood - Mascot / The End Records 2006
Running Time: 55:44
In any tome chronicling the rise of speed/thrash that took place in the mid-'80s, one need not look too far beneath the surface to come across Sadus. Ascended since their birth above second tier (but worthy) acts such as Attacker and Forbidden, Sadus always had the goods and pedigree to craft metal that was not only blistering in its technicality, but catchy as fuck. More theory-driven than Testament, but not sailing off into Watchtower wankery, Sadus was metal you could sink your teeth into. The nineties alternative movement saw bands like Suffocation lumbering off into hibernation, yet still Sadus kept plugging away through the landmark Swallowed In Black, and Vision Of Misery. A brief stoppage of new music came between '92 and '97 with DiGiorgio lending his bass talents to Death's classic Individual Thought Patterns, then branching off into the instrumental jazz fusion of Dark Hall. Sadus never "broke up" in the traditional sense, though, so don't view Out For Blood as a comeback album. Well, how then?
The high-pitched screech of vocalist/guitarist Darren Travis is a welcome sound in this age of guttural grind and watered down death. On opener "In The Name Of...", DiGiorgio's blinding speed clearly none the worse for wear, and even taking a more upfront space in the song now and again. A wavering synth and martial rhythm add a bit of Fear Factory to the mix, but the Sousa-influenced delivery of Travis and Jon Allen's off-kilter fills keep things firmly entrenched on the Metal (capital "M", if you please) side of the battlefield. DiGiorgio's fretless fluidity in the beginning section of "Smackdown" bears a striking semblance to the sometimes subtle fingerings of Jaco Pastorius before locking into the spine-cracking groove of this paean to the "take no shit" attitude present in Sadus from the start. The title track wastes no time launching itself into the stratosphere, a downbeat chorus forecefully wedded to the album's most standard thrash attack thus far. Here, also, is where the new addition of background vocals is most noticeable, DiGiorgio's marble-gargling lower register providing a nice counterweight to the shrieking highs of Travis. "Lost It All" lumbers along, being one of the few songs on Out For Blood that sticks pretty much with the same midpaced gait throughout. I'm not sure the speed demons will get into this number, but based on its position near the album's center, it provides a nice breather before the balls-out-and-swinging "Sick" returns to the rampaging thrashfest from earlier on in the disc. The hammering beast that is "Down" steamrolls its way over the unsuspecting, reminding us once again that all that early Swedish death had to be inspired by something, and that that something was just as much Bay Area thrash as anything else. "Freedom" explores the resignation to a better end and the triumph of will involved in both dying and living respectfully, and works as somewhat of a tribute to DiGiorgio's friend and former bandmate, Chuck. The whiplash-inducing "Freak" is the shortest song on the album, depositing the listener at the gateway to the Fritz Leiber-inspired epic "Cursed". Out For Blood ends with "Crazy", the guest howls of Chuck Billy working in tandem with Travis to evoke the sense of a man (and mind) split in two.
To all those '80s bands reforming due to the lure of the quick buck or the onset of a midlife crisis, Sadus has your number. Even after a nearly nine year drought in recorded output, Sadus remains as vicious, as vengeful, and as vital as ever.