Have you ever had one of those moments in life where you bought an album and didn't think too much of it the first few listens, then give it another spin 3-4 years later and realize it was TOTALLY AWESOME? This is what I went through with Siege's only album “Drop Dead.”
For those of you who aren't in the know about Siege, they were a legendary hardcore punk band from Weymouth, Massachusetts for the fact that their meager amount of recordings have been so influential in the formation of the grindcore genre. A fine example would be Birmingham grindcore legends Napalm Death. Napalm Death loved Siege, as they named one of their songs “Siege of Power” and covered the song “Walls” during one of their John Peel sessions. While Siege has been highly influential to the formation of grindcore, there's been plenty of other bands that have been playing similar styles of music such as Mob 47 and Asocial at either the same time Siege played or even before Siege started playing. Anyway, enough about their influence, as influence doesn't determine the quality of the music (please note that my rating is based solely on the quality of the music itself). With that said, is the music any good. OH YES!!
The production of this album is perfect. All the instruments and vocals come in clearly, but at the same time, there's a harsh aesthetic to the sound quality, which is totally fitting for the type of music being played here. If the sound quality was polished, it wouldn't have much of the bite it's famed for.
The style of music Siege plays is like a mixture of hardcore punk and thrash metal, with good emphasis on short song structures and rough vocals. Short song lengths and fast rhythms (thanks to drummer Rob Williams, who does a great job behind the kit) are very common on this album, as the average song is equal or less than a minute long. The only “oddball” track here is the closing track, “Grim Reaper,” which is a sluggish, doom-laden 7 minute track.
The songs here are hardcore punk/proto-grindcore mastery. Aside from playing at such high speeds, the musicians at work know how to put in interesting nuances in the songs to make them distinctive and refreshing. For example, in the song “Armageddon,” the band blasts through half the song in their own way of extreme music, then bassist Hank McNamee delivers a short, intense bass solo when everyone else stops, then the band resumes to regular business. In the song “Sad But True,” guitarist Kurt Habelt dishes out some good guitar solos in the midst of all the grinding madness. Speaking of which, it's pretty refreshing to hear a grindcore record with guitar solos in the songs because while I don't mind them not being in the songs, the solos provide an interesting change during the song's run. This also helps some songs stick out more from others. Last but not least, Kevin Mahoney's rough vocals breathe such gritty life into the songs. Mahoney's vocals are best categorized as lower-pitched and rough, but he can give out some higher-pitched screams to enhance the intensity of the songs. In the closing track “Grim Reaper,” Mahoney plays a sax on some parts, and this enhances the bizarre, dark feeling of the song. This song also has some disturbing guitar solos, sax solos, and some pitch-shifted vocals to make the song even more creepy than it already is. With the experimental qualities in this track, I wonder if it influenced Napalm Death during their experimental phases in the 90's and recently with their newest album “Utilitarian.”
Standout tracks: “Drop Dead,” “Life of Hate,” “Armageddon,” “Walls,” “Sad But True,” and “Grim Reaper” (though they're all quite good).
This album is a little hard to find now, since it's out of print, but if you want some blistering hardcore punk that's also grindcore, then this is an album you should get your paws on.