GURD
"Your Drug of Choice"

(LC)

01. Your Drug of Choice
02. Seven Stars
03. Once For All
04. Colony Collapse Disorder
05. Beneath the Sea
06. Madness Reigns
07. Nothing to Lose
08. Sceptic
09. Refused
10. Stuck in a Box
11. Let Me Die In Dignity
12. We Stand Up Today
13. Cold Gin

RATING: 8/10

Here we have the (eighth? ninth? do we count that remix album?) full-length effort of muscled down, grown up thrash metal from these Swiss scene veterans (anyone remember POLTERGEIST, besides me and whoever empties the dumpsters at Century Media?). GURD may have zero profile here in the States, but clearly, someone's digging their heavy, brooding assault.

It's not hard to see why — while there's nothing flashy or gimmicky about GURD's metal, it's well-written, energetic, catchy and compelling. Check out "Seven Stars", where a slow, glowering beginning creates a sinister atmosphere before giving way to a breakneck old-time thrash attack, complete with guest vocal from DESTRUCTION frontman Schmier and plenty of panned-left-then-right ripping solos. "Your Drug of Choice" isn't just retro rehash, though – check out the damn-near-doom-metal "Madness Reigns" for a grim slog through lead-heavy riffs and funereal tempos. And "Colony Collapse Disorder" makes use of an accessible midtempo beat and some nice open chords to create an almost progressive sound, without losing the crunch or heaviness of the rest of the album.

In fact, even the occasional whiff of tough-guy PANTERA posturing or metalcore cliché is quickly assimilated and easily overlooked, given the overall quality of the songwriting. This is a record that doesn't bow to any current trends, or pander to the militant denim-and-backpatch crowd, but instead delivers heartfelt, unapologetic heavy metal crafted with care and delivered with passion. Really, in a just world, GURD would be mentioned in the same breath as modern-day, post-renaissance MACHINE HEAD, as standard-bearers for metal that can be intelligent and punch-to-the-gut visceral.

Bonus points for the ridiculous, heavily-accented, good-time romp through KISS's "Cold Gin", just the right capper after a second half that tends to get maybe just a little too weighty and hookless. Overall, though, "Your Drug of Choice" is a crusher, a pissed-off, iron-fisted testament to the evolution and maturation of extreme metal, with attitude and fortitude intact. Now will someone please promote this damn band?

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