With a metal band carrying the moniker POTENTIAL THREAT SF, you can place a safe bet you're coming straight to a hub where the famed Bay Area thrash scene is celebrated. POTENTIAL THREAT SF was originally formed in 1986, in the midst of the San Fran slam uprising. Thus you'll forgive them if they come off like doppelgangers of METALLICA, HEATHEN, DEATH ANGEL, EXODUS, FORBIDDEN and TESTAMENT. Sidebar, it so happens bassist Damien Sisson splits time here and in DEATH ANGEL.
POTENTIAL THREAT SF's latest record, "Civilization Under Threat", has only one thing going against it, and it has nothing to do with an unabashed retro thrash feel, nor the fact Mike Noble coughs up a ton of James Hetfield and even a little Chuck Billy from his wrangled pipes. All of that is mostly welcoming and well-played. As sharp as the execution is on "Civilization Under Threat", the songs are too damned long, clocking at an aggregate six-and-a-half minutes. A couple marathons might've been acceptable, but all the constant extension does for POTENTIAL THREAT SF is to let them bombard their listeners with every riff, slide and blitz pattern that's been churned out of their native turf.
"Civilization Under Threat" sounds like a Bay Area tribute album that doesn't want to quit, albeit what's presented does make for some happy headbanging. Each song is crammed with power grooves, mosh marches and speed metal jerk-outs along with tasty guitar solos from Daniel Sheridan, Mike Noble and guest shredder Mehl Meinhardt. While nothing emitted by POTENTIAL THREAT SF is ever spectacular, there's constant aptitude and overall tightness despite some low-key production.
What's going to stick out like a sore thumb on "Civilization Under Threat" is Mike Noble's uncanny Hetfield duplications. On "Written in Blood", he sells the illusion with such convincingness along with the rest of the band it sounds like a METALLICA track still in the making, albeit it has its foot planted in the right era. "The Threat of Things to Come" likewise carries a METALLICA nuance, though it comes more from a chunkier attack within a framework centered around "Death Magnetic" and even "Blackened". Finally, the quasi-ballad "Behold the End" is sifted from the ashes of "Fade to Black".
On the flipside, "Edge of Sanity", "Destroy and Dominate" and the hammering "Beneath the Surface" hoist as much from late Eighties EXODUS as they do from METALLICA. By now you get the picture. POTENTIAL THREAT SF makes no pretentions about who they are and what they're out to achieve. Damien Sisson is both showcased and drowned, while drummer Kenny Noble lays down some gnarly tempos, even if he hooks his bass drum out of whack in a few spots. Thus "Civilization Under Threat" is nowhere in the league of its contemporaries, but it is a lot of fun if you can overlook its ceaseless platitudes and protracted song intervals.