Trauma – “As The World Dies” (Rivet Records)
Although famed for being the band that Cliff Burton played in prior to Metallica, Trauma were a band in their own right even if their potential didn’t garner them anywhere near the degree of commercial success. Dormant for close to 3 decades, the cult status of the band soon had the true metal legions clamouring for a comeback and in 2015, Trauma obliged with a release in “Rapture And Wrath”. Complete with founder vocalist Don Hillier and longtime drummer Kris Gustofson, the album along with live appearances proved the band still had what it took resulting in a resurgence of interest for yet more Trauma! Since then Hillier and Gustofson have built a fearsome band around them including Testament bassist Greg Christian, Danzig guitarist Joe Fraulob and fellow axemaster Steve Robello from Bay Area supergroup Dublin Death Patrol. Together, they have put together this incredible release that brings back the glory days of authentic Bay Area Thrash when legends like Metallica, Exodus and Testament were born! Despite the veteran presence, the sheer power on the 10 charged tracks here is awesome, with the heaviness and speed easily rivalling any younger band, not to mention the stupendous performances from Hilliers still powerful highs to Gustofson’s steaming drum work and precision beats, as well as the shredding dual axe work. That said, what is the most exciting aspect of “As The World Dies” is the sheer quality of the songs, all with deep hooks, power melodies and bold catchiness in abundance to get any headbanger sweaty and reaching for that air guitar! From the frantic chopping beat on ‘From Here To Hell’ the intensity just builds through Hillier’s highs (and echoing harmonies) as those razor guitars throw out catchy riffs time and again while wailing all over the place to a singalong chorus before a slow heavy mid section sees Christian’s bass hammering in – wow, totally stoked man! Shifting up the gears on ‘Gun To You Head’, the quality of the hooks really shows amid the hammering furore as the twin guitars of Fraulob and Robello really show their measure lobbing out dexterous but ever so cool molten metal solos – true to their legacy of once being one of Mike Varney’s technically shredding bands on Shrapnel Records. Showing their more emotional side on the thrash ballad ‘Entropy’, Hillier’s voice once again shines through his soulfulness although nothing should be taken from the overall vibe of deep passion while ‘Cool Aid’ shows a funky rap aspect into the heavy thrash that really impressed me from its sheer catchiness while not compromising any heaviness, proving that in the seasoned hands of this incredible outfit, old school thrash has lost none of its sheen but moreover, could be set for a comeback. Whatever the case, Trauma have returned with a vengeance!!!