CD Reviews

Thrust - 'Fist Held High' / 'Reincarnation' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 18, 2016    
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It was high time someone reminded us Thrust deserved far more recognition than they actually had.

Thrust were one of a number of bands who featured on Metal Blade's famous 1980's compilations 'Metal Massacre' (the series that shed light on the early recordings of bands like Metallica, Metal Church and Slayer) and their 1984 debut album 'Fist Held High' is an album that is nowadays regarded as a cult classic. However, Thrust never really made it to the true Pantheon Of Metal; their 1988 album 'Reincarnation' was shelved for almost thirty years and the group itself fell into obscurity. A tepid reception to their 2002 comeback album 'Invitation To Insanity' didn't help matters either.

Now, with the arrival of the band's 35th Anniversary, Metal Blade have decided to unleash the ultimate treat for everyone who's ever pumped their fist and screamed along to Thrust; a double album that includes '...High', the long-lost 1988 unreleased album as well as some live and demo rarities. The main attraction is obviously the re-released classic album '...High' that is, simply put, all things Metal – almost an encyclopaedic definition of the genre. From the title through to the raw, rough sound with distinctive influences of NWOBHM and classically clichéd lyrics, it's the early Traditional/Power Metal at its best.

The riffs are heavy and muscular, juxtaposed with pounding rhythm section work with the band's lead singer (at the time – John Bonata) screaming his head off. Just take a quick look over the track listing – from the title track to 'Metallic Attack', 'Heavier Than Hell' and 'Posers Will Die' – and you'll find it urgent to check if that bleached denim vest with patches and pins from 1984 still fits! Apart from eight songs that were included on the original release, this new version also includes five live recordings. Four of them were released in 1982 on the 'Solidarnosc - Rock For Poland' compilation in support of the Solidarity (Solidarnosc) movement during and right after the Martial Law period in Poland. A bit of relatively recent history of my homeland – but first and foremost, Thrust's raw energy captured on record. The final track is the live rendition of 'Destructer' from the 'Metal Massacre IV' compilation (1983).

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The inclusion of both the five earlier, pre-'...High' live recordings, the cult album itself and then the previously unreleased 'Reincarnation' (and assorted demos) on the second disc really shows the band's evolution. The juxtaposition of 1984's '...High' and 'Reincarnation' is particularly interesting – on the latter, the group's sound is not as raw and rough due to slicker production (by Bob Kulick).

'Reincarnation' also features a few more catchy songs ('Wasted' and 'Get Crazy') which could be claimed to even be a bit Skid Row-ish. However, it's still the same Thrust we knew from their debut album, always ready to deliver a handful of fist-pumping anthems driven by the Judas Priest-esque twin guitar attack and pounding rhythm. The album's slow moments are the proverbial fly in the ointment – the vocals during 'God Only Knows' and the ballad-esque parts of 'The Fool' are, for the lack of a courteous euphemism, simply terrible. As for the handful of demo recordings that are also included, the quality is good and the songs are an interesting insight into the sphere of band's unpolished, unfinished creative ideas. Some of these might have been developed to perfection and contribute to Thrust's big breakthrough, but – for some reason or another – it never happened.

There are certain reasons why Thrust's 'Fist Held High' remains a cult classic more than thirty years after it was released and why the band's logo made it to so many Metalheads' vests and jackets. It was due to the excellent music itself but also because of their sound captured all the things each of us knows from our own youth – angst, rebellion, alienation... all the things true Metal music was always about. That's why it was high time someone reminded us Thrust deserved far more recognition than they actually had.

Alexandra Mrozowska

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