RAZOR – “Cycle of Contempt”

by Thor

After a decade of fits and starts, Canadian thrash/speed metal pioneers RAZOR reemerge with “Cycle of Contempt,” the band’s first full length album in 25 years.

RAZOR is often referred to as one of the Canadian “Big Four” (alongside ANVIL, ANNIHILATOR, and VOIVOD) as they’ve been playing some iteration or another of thrash metal since the genre’s inception.(I think I’d put EXCITER in the list instead of ANVIL—Dr. M) I’d always seen their name in various ‘zines throughout the years and had been looking forward to getting my hands on this album. However, since these guys have always remained on the periphery of my awareness, my summation of “Cycle of Contempt” is without a nostalgia-induced grading curve or legacy points. Lucky you!

On “Cycle of Contempt,” RAZOR plays straight up thrash metal without any of the subgenre qualifiers so common today. It’s not blackened thrash, it’s not crossover thrash, and it’s not death thrash. Really, their approach couldn’t get any simpler. The vast majority of their material here features fast, tremolo-picked riffs, and Bob Reid’s gruff vocals in the vein of PRONG’s Tommy Victor, all over a bed of drums pounding out the classic hyper-polka thrash beat, aka the Lombardo. It’s solid.

My issue is that it’s not until track six (of twelve), “First Rate Hate,” that we’re finally given a different tempo/texture. The first five songs, while certainly well-executed thrash metal, are indistinguishable from one another. The final six tracks of the album are mostly more of the same, but with a few more passages that shake up the formula. And unfortunately, that’s not enough for me to not feel overwhelmed by the monotony of it all.

In short, it’s boring.

Where is the occasional half time heaviness? The straight time, 4/4 circle pit parts? There’s nothing here to provide a counterpoint. Fast ceases to be fast when it’s never juxtaposed against slow. This near total lack of tempo dynamics combined with empty, cartoonish lyrics makes RAZOR’s “Cycle of Contempt” a bit of a disappointment.