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Power and Pain

Power and Pain ©1985 Roadracer
1. Stage Dive
2. Red Bomb
3. Last Man Alive
4. Message in Blood
5. War Monger
6. Power Thrashing Death
7. Stirring the Cauldron
8. Spit on Your Grave
9. Nailed to the Cross

Whiplash scored a minor cult classic with their 1985 debut, Power and Pain. Despite rough production and shortcomings in the vocal delivery, this album contains nothing but high speed, full throttle thrash metal from three guys named Tony. That's right. This New Jersey band featured nothing but guys named Tony on the debut. Nothing is more Jersey than that, right? (Actually, how the hell would I know...I grew up in the West and prefer to resort to blanket generalizations of places I've only visited a few times.)

Although Whiplash would be more refined on later releases, Power and Pain's appeal is the utter enthusiasm this band showed with their take on thrash. The other aspect that has always been appealing about Whiplash is their fluid rhythm section, which consisted of bassist Tony Bono and drummer Tony Scaglione in those days. (I wasn't kidding about the name Tony.) Bono's basslines had the ability to just flow like a river, giving the band a slightly different edge that their contemporaries lacked. For a perfect example of this, check out "Power Thrashing Death", which shows off the musical capabilities of the trio as well as Bono's racing undertones.

Despite their proximity to New York, they didn't fall prey to the hardcore mosh riff'n'stomp tendencies. The only real drawback to this album is that guitarist Tony Portaro's vocals are the lacerated throat shredding variety that didn't necessarily add to the music as much as a more accomplished singer might have. Perhaps the vocalists who did audition were named Steve or George or some other unworthy first name. However, considering Portaro sounds like Tony Bennett compared to the death metal grunters that would arrive in the scene in the coming years, it's pretty easy to get accustomed to the singing on Power and Pain.

Thrash enthusiasts surely already have this album in their collections. Rest assured that although Whiplash wasn't quite the best of the best, they still were good enough to command attention, even today. Be on the lookout for a CD pairing of this album with Ticket to Mayhem to get all your 80s Whiplash needs in one handy place.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2010

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Ticket To Mayhem

Whiplash - Ticket To Mayhem ©1987 Roadracer
1. Perpetual Warfare
2. Walk The Plank
3. Last Nail In The Coffin
4. Drowning In Torment
5. The Burning Of Atlanta
6. Eternal Eyes (Last Nail In The Coffin, Part II)
7. Snake Pit
8. Spiral Of Violence
9. Respect The Dead
10. Perpetual Warfare

Ticket to Mayhem may very well be one of thrash metal's truly forgotten gems. Whiplash's first album, Power and Pain, was quite sloppy and rushed, at least to my ears. However, by their second go-around, Whiplash had tidied up business and unleashed a furious onslaught of aggression, speed and crunchy thrash goodness. Despite the band's career long second (or maybe even third) tier status, Ticket to Mayhem is an incredible release that should be coveted by all fans of thrash.

The album begins and ends with the sounds of aircrafts, perhaps dueling it out over a battlefield. Hence the name "Perpetual Warfare". The songs between the intro and outro reflect a blitzkrieg mentality. Although there are slower paced songs, the majority of this album rushes at you like a battallion of really speedy tanks. Tanks on mechanical amphetamines, which probably consists of nitro fuel of some sort. The trio, down to two Tonys after the departure of drummer Tony Scaglione, provides a thoroughly heavy sound with a very solid production for the era. Guitarist Tony Portaro's vocals, while not exactly American Idol material, are high rasps that work quite well within the music's context. Bassist Tony Bono, unlike many thrash contemporaries, is actually quite audible within the mix, adding a powerful undercurrent. And if nothing else, Ticket to Mayhem features the band's absolute best song: "The Burning of Atlanta", where all their elements come together for one of the better thrash songs you'll ever hear.

Although hopelessly out of print (although it's turned up in a couple limited reissues and a pairing with the band's debut), Ticket to Mayhem is nonetheless entirely worth seeking out. It is one of those unheralded releases from the 80s that probably deserved more attention than it actually got. But you know what they say, it's never too late to uncover a gem.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2003

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Insult To Injury

Whiplash - Insult To Injury ©1989 Roadracer
1. Voice Of Sanity
2. Hiroshima
3. Insult To Injury
4. Dementia Thirteen
5. Essence Of Evil
6. Witness To The Terror
7. Battle Scars
8. Rape Of The Mind
9. Ticket To Mayhem
10. 4E.S.
11. Pistolwhipped

By the time Whiplash rolled out their third full length album, the band had picked up a fulltime vocalist to allow guitarist Tony Portaro to concentrate just on his instrument. The resulting release, Insult to Injury, is actually one of the best things Whiplash has done, regardless of the transition to a smoother, more palatable vocalist. The music is still fairly reminiscient to Ticket to Mayhem, albeit a bit less manic and kinetically charged. Tasty thrash riffs are in high abundance here as well as a better sense of melody. New vocalist Glenn Hansen has a bit more of a high pitched wail, though not intolerably high, like many his thrash brethen from the era. Where this album succeeds is, of course, in the songwriting. Nearly every song here is highly memorable, with "Rape of the Mind", "Hiroshima" and the insanely speedy "Pistolwhipped" being some of the highlights. The band is more than competent, with bassist Tony Bono (who later ended up in Into Another, a band of an entirely different breed) providing some very subtle, but nifty playing throughout.

Insult to Injury is certainly one of the more overlooked good albums from the heyday of thrash and one of the best from 1989. Any enthusiast should probably put this down on the list of new treasures to find.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2000

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Cult of One

Whiplash - Cult of One ©1996 Massacre
1. Such is the Will
2. No One's Idol
3. No Fear to Tread
4. 1000 Times
5. Wheel of Misfortune
6. Heavenaut
7. Lost World
8. Cult of One
9. Enemy
10. Apostle of Truth

After a long hiatus, Whiplash re-emerged in the mid 90s with a new lineup (featuring original drummer Tony Scaglione) and an entirely different sound than the no holds barred thrash metal of the 80s. Whiplash, as with many 80s stalwarts who found themselves without a subgenre in the grunge and alternative music era, adopted a groove oriented melodic metal style that can be traced to perhaps Pantera's Cowboys From Hell. However, before anyone forms an instant bias based on that, it should be stated the Pantera comparisons are generally thin. Whiplash's efforts at a melodic metal style are surprisingly decent.

Cult of One, much like 1990's excellent Insult to Injury, features a lead vocalist who was never heard from again. As with his predecessor Glenn Hansen, vocalist Rob Gonzo delivers a "one and done" effort on this album. On the positive side of things, he has a pretty decent singing voice, one that is able to sell the melodies fairly well. There's a bit of the "I'm still a tough metal guy" edge to reassure fans that these melodies aren't the type that would be shared with the Cinderella and Danger Danger crowd. In theory, this is the sort of melodic metal that long haired guys with many tattooes would enjoy listening to in order to explore their sensitive sides and still crush Miller Lite cans on their foreheads. Cult of One features a lot of the chunky guitar playing that become commonplace in the 90s, but also sneaks in some pretty leads and solos when no one is looking. The one drawback is that some of the songs have a tendency to go on a bit long. The album could potentially have more impact if it were ten to fifteen minutes shorter.

While it's tough to annoint Cult of One as a top album of 1996, it is a credible entry in this particular style. Other bands, such as Souls at Zero, went this direction with minimal results, but Whiplash pulls it off. Assuming you're not a dogmatic type who feels bands should stick to the style recorded on their very first demo tape, you may also find Cult of One a fairly enjoyable left turn for Whiplash.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2009

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Whiplash - Thrashback ©1998 Massacre Records
1. Temple Of Punishment
2. Stab
3. This
4. Killing On Monroe Street
5. King With The Axe
6. Strike Me Blind
7. Memory Serves
8. Ressurection Chair
9. House With No Doors
10. Thrash 'til Death
11. Nails In Me Deep

I'm sure you know how that in the past couple years there has been a wave of younger kids trying to imitate 80s thrash. And I'm sure you're aware that ninety-seven percent of the time these efforts fail miserably to even remotely approach the feel and excitement of that long gone era. The thing is that you actually need the musicians from that era to recapture the feeling. So enter Whiplash back into the picture. If you remember your history, Whiplash was a New York thrash band that had some attention given to them with some high powered, outrageously octaned albums such as Ticket to Mayhem and my personal favorite Insult to Injury. Lo and behold, the original trio of the three Tonys (Bono, Portaro and Scaglione) are back in prime form to remind us what thrash was all about.

From the first moments of "Temple of Punishment", you know that Whiplash has both aged well and still know how to retain the exciting vibe of their 80s work without being derivative. This band excelled back then at speedy, fluid riffing and their knack has not diminished one iota. Fortunately, Portaro's singing has improved immensely over the past decade as well. He know sounds a bit like Helloween's Andi Deris in tone (though not having that same range, which is just as well). Bono, who spent time in Into Another during the 90s, and Scaglione work very well together, creating a solid rhythm section. The songs range from old school throttle attacks like the instrumental "Strike Me Blind" to a more mid-paced stomper like "King With the Axe". The album never lets down at any point. If you ever liked Whiplash at any point in your life, do yourself a favor and find a copy of this. And for you younger kids who wonder why us old guys sneer at retro-thrash projects, Thrashback is an apt lesson in why.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1999

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