Nashville, Tennessee was never known as a hotbed of metal insanity. In fact, when a thrash band came from the country music capitol of the world in the mid-1980s, their hometown was the most novel thing about them. "The band that turned Nashville into thrashville!" read the magazine ads for INTRUDER, and while they didn't exactly do that, they did acquit themselves well with a few really good second-tier albums."A Higher Form of Killing", originally released in 1989, showcased a style not too far removed from the Bay Area thrash pioneers, involving a good bit of the one-two polka beat, precise downpicking riffs, world-gone-mad lyrics, and histrionic vocals. Singer James Hamilton had a slightly more melodic approach, a high-pitched wail somewhere between Sean Killian and Joey Belladonna. Other than a few well-placed Araya-esque screams, he fortunately stayed away from (though he was certainly capable of) the ear-bleeding dog-whistle that some of his contemporaries inexplicably found appealing (REALM and the Alan Tecchio version of WATCHTOWER come to mind). Opener "The Martyr" is an impressive start, with a blistering main riff and a manic, memorable chorus. "Killing Winds" is another barn-burner, starting off with a tough midsection before launching into another of their slightly off-the-rails, fervently violent thrash parts. INTRUDER never come across as vicious as, say, prime EXODUS, but their slightly melodic bent and sheer conviction keeps them interesting and enjoyable. Even their silly cover of "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" is a good time, not to mention a fairly standard device of thrash albums of the era. And lyrically, these guys were right up there with the so-called thinking man's metal of the day, citing Nobel Prize laureates and avant-garde sci-fi for inspiration. Are INTRUDER more than a well-done footnote to metal history? If we're being brutally honest, then no, not really. Am I happy that this long-deleted gem is finally available again, outside the domain of high-dollar eBay purchases? Hell yes I am. This is the stuff a generation cut its teeth on, swapping cassettes often bought solely on the basis of their covers, picking favorites based on the slightest whims, driving long distances to see infrequent shows at some truly heinous clubs. It's part historical curiosity, part nostalgia, and mostly just the desire to thrash out till your neck snaps, but for a disgracefully-aging subset of the metal scene, reissues like this are manna from metal heaven. They may not have been innovators, but bands like INTRUDER definitely deserved more recognition at the time – it falls to those of us who remember those times, and those who've made the effort to educate themselves since then, to keep the memories and music of that era from falling into obscurity. You've got your orders – seek this reissue out, if you haven't already, and before it vanishes from the racks once again.
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