One of the great injustices of extreme music history is that SADUS are known primarily as a secretarial pool for bigger bands. Drummer Jon Allen does time in TESTAMENT and DRAGONLORD, while bassist Steve DiGiorgio has seemingly jammed with everyone heavier than the MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR (partial resume: DEATH, ICED EARTH, TESTAMENT, SEBASTIAN BACH, FUNERAL). The two of them, alongside guitarist/vocalist Darren Travis, have kept the SADUS name alive for twenty years, though, rising from the tape-trading pre-internet underground, spending time on Roadrunner, and now putting out albums and touring sporadically when the three of them can get in the same room together.
Six long years after the somewhat lackluster "Elements of Anger", SADUS returns and delivers a ferocious, ripping beast of a record, the best thing they've put out since the obscenely underrated "Swallowed In Black" in 1991! Travis is snarling in the sort of rabid, trebly throat-shred that everyone else seemed to forget how to do after 1993, and the riffs are flying fast and furious. DiGiorgio, of course, walks all over the whole damn thing, and is one of the only bass players who could be this over-the-top and make the album better as a result. His fretless insanity adds to the manic, unsettled, frenzied vibe of the record, and he frequently adds a dose of melody or dissonance at just the right time, Travis and Allen giving him plenty of room to shred. (And check out the spooky atmosphere and sitar wizardry (!) in his introduction to the epic "Cursed"!)
Faster numbers like "In the Name Of…" and the simple pit anthem "Sick" are interspersed with slower, less over-the-top exercises like the seething groove of "No More" (which, inexplicably, features some weird and unexpected computer noises, but still manages to work like a charm). There's a few moments of midtempo tough-guy riffing (see "Down" and the verse of "Smackdown") that provide a catchier respite from the faster, more technical stuff – perhaps a little jarring to those looking for the band's relentless hyperspeed of old, but a wise dynamic choice in the context of the whole album.
Other highlights include the slinky, wandering Eastern groove of "Freedom", a song dedicated to Chuck Schuldiner, and album closer "Crazy", which sports a ferocious bout of guest vocals from TESTAMENT's Chuck Billy. Songs here are long, meandering, full of awesome parts and memorable frills, marred only occasionally by some goofy and slapdash lyrics. This is one of those rarities, a thrash album with enough technical frippery to dazzle prog-heads, while simultaneously ripping off faces and igniting lethal mosh pits through sheer frustrated, pent-up ferocity. Of course, this is no surprise, since SADUS helped invent this very hybrid back when most of today's metal crop were rocking out to Raffi tapes!
SADUS are gonna be a hard sell in 2006, a thrash band with a unique personality in a scene full of bands working overtime to stuff themselves into prefab genres. Anyone into real thrash metal, whether you're old-school or new, should run to their preferred outlet and pick up this defiant metal gem — SADUS is entering their third decade of existence and they're writing music that can stand with the best they've ever done. Smoke three OB's, fire up "Out For Blood", and support a fucking original.