When Keith Chatham recorded Condemned?’s first album after signing with a very young Nuclear Blast Records in 1985, he might have thought their next piece would be distributed on the same label – and he was right. But no one would have guessed that the follow up to Humanoid Or Biomechanoid? would be released more than 20 years later.
After a brief stint in Australia (forming Death Sentence and Vicious Circle) and playing in various bands across the bustling Bay Area Thrash scene (Attitude, Something Scaley, Two Bit Thief), Chatham, along with his former band-mate,s finally reformed and, as a result, here it finally is – the album many a thrash-freak has been waiting for.
If something is supressed for too long, there’s a good chance that the eventual repurcussions of freedom will be harnessed in a way that can be visual, symbolic and sometimes extreme, reigniting an old spirit that once embodied a value now archaic, or simply marking the beginning of a new era. You only have to look as far as Egypt.
Luckily we’re dealing with a much more jovial matter, but that doesn’t mean the same rules don’t apply here – Condemned 2 Death being an album that has come out of the blocks flying, after a well-overdue delay, an entity waiting to unleash it’s straight-laced, pulsating aggression.
What is refreshing about Condemned? is that, even from the beginning they rebuffed a pure thrash sound and favoured the fusion of punk elements which they still stick with today. Yes, they might be continuing an unfortunate tradition of simplistic lyrics in thrash-based music but, nevertheless, it isn’t bad enough to spoil Condemned 2 Death for the best part.
There’s some oldies from previous projects on disc two, and 14 new songs which give a good variety of hardcore and thrash structures alongside big but jagged street vocal choruses, with Emotional Blurr being a more-than-notable example. Most songs don’t last more than three-minutes, with Crutch clocking in at a mere 38 seconds. It might border on the kind of random humour you’d expect from a grindcore act (with the similarities in song length too), but is an unmistakeable instant burst of energised thrash, doused in a renegade punk atmosphere.
There are moments that – regardless of how intense this record may be – are flat, with Crucified exactly that, Save Thy Brother letting out an uninspiring string of chords and D-Day obviously just strung together with lack of thought and boring repetition.
Still, overall, Condemned 2 Death has succeeded in crowning a remarkable return. Fast, ferocious and finally flailing in fervent strides, this has all the makings of a record that marks future potential for Condemned?, with raw enthusiasm being the prominent driving force behind an engine that still needs some oiling. They’ve made their intentions known.