I first heard of Sadus back in late 2006 with their second album “Swallowed in Black,” and while I would come to love the band's early material, they were pretty odd to listen to at the time since I only wanted thrash and death metal with lower-pitched vocals. Fast forward to late 2007 when I got my hands on this. “Chemical Exposure” quickly engrossed me in its virtually unrivaled brutality and sheer technicality. Despite the rise of many of these “brutal death metal” bands since the late 90's (such as Disavowed and Deeds of Flesh), they can't hold a candle to albums like this in terms of sheer aggression and insanity.
Sadus's style can be summed up as technical thrash metal with plenty of death metal overtones and a good heap of over-the-top aggression. Other than the first few seconds of “Certain Death” and the closing track “Chemical Exposure,” there really isn't much breathing room for the listener if they want little moments to “take a breather” between the storms of thrash riffs and visceral percussion. I like my thrash metal this way because I want full-on aggression that's also dynamic (if that makes any sense).
The musicians on this album are top-notch. These guys really know how to use their vocal chords and instruments not just in how technical they can get, but also with writing memorable, ruthless songs that force you to bang your head.
Darren Travis is at the top of his game on this album. He handled the vocals and guitars on this album, and he did a superb job with both. He delivers a lot of blood-chilling death shrieks that I think even might make Mille Petrozza from Kreator a little nervous, and I think Darren's best vocals have to be I the song “And Then You Die,” which even scare me a little. His guitar work is superb, as he can deliver a ton of lethal riffs and solos. Since the liner notes don't tell who does what guitar solos in the song, I can't give you any specifics on Darren's guitar solos. However, I'll say that they all sound awesome.
Bob Moore is the second axeman on this album, and like Darren, Bob delivers a ton of excellent riffs and solos. Aside from the sheer technical skill, Bob also has a strong sense of dynamics in the riffs that he creates. In some songs like “Sadus Attack” and “Hands of Fate,” Bob mixes up the tempos of riffs as to give the songs more distinct structures all while maintaining all the thrashing aggression you'd expect from a band like this. Among the best guitar solos are in “And Then You Die” and “Hands of Fate,” since they're the perfect balance of flashy and being just the right length.
Steve DiGiorgio goes beyond being just your average metal bassist, since he's lauded as one of the best heavy metal bassists in the extreme music scene. He delivers a ton of great basslines that add heaviness and depth to the music, and even stand out among the mayhem of the guitars, vocals, and drums. One of Steve's best moments on this album is his bass solo in the song “Torture.” After you hear this album, it'll be no mystery to you as to why he was a frequent collaborator with Chuck Schuldiner for Death and Control Denied.
Jon Allen is a really solid drummer. He has a ton of technical beats and fills that are also loaded with aggression. I think some of Jon's best moments are in the middle section of “Hands of Fate” and the last quarter of “Twisted Face.”
There's great songs aplenty on “Chemical Exposure.” My favorites on here have to be “Certain Death,” “Torture,” “And Then You Die,” Hands of Fate,” “Twisted Face,” and “Fight or Die.” “Certain Death” opens up with an ominous intro before quickly going into a maelstrom of twisted thrash with infectious, headbanging riffs, complemented with an excellent guitar solo at 2:40. “Torture” is a relatively short track (only 2:24 minutes long), but doesn't waste any time assaulting you with thrash riffs that change from being fast and not-as-fast, capped off with an excellent guitar solo near the end a lot of crazy vocals. “And Then You Die” has some of the catchiest opening riffs, before going into a frenzy of savage riffs and some of the best vocals on the album, not to mention even more excellent guitar solos. “Hands of Fate” starts off a little slower than usual, but gains momentum into being possibly the most developed song on the album, all while still maintaining the manic thrashing aggression. This song has some excellent thrash beats by Jon, and the solo near the middle is like a homage to the style of solos done by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman of Slayer fame. I can keep going about the songs, but I think I made my point.
For an independent release, the production on this album is superb. There's naturally a gritty and harsh aesthetic to the sound quality, but at the same time, everything comes in clearly, even the bass. I'm really glad that when this album was recorded and mixed, that the bass was higher up than usual since I think this helps give this excellent album a distinct flavor in the thrash metal arena.
This is a gem in the underground metal scene. If you're craving a short but to the point thrash metal album that's technical and flavored with death, you should buy a copy ASAP.
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