Traffic Death – Judas Curse Of The Iron Sabbath Review

This one’s a month or so old now… or it’s not even out yet, depending on how you want to look at it. These damned supply chain issues today, amirite?

Release date: December 15, 2021… or? Label: Sump Pump
What I mean by that is that Judas Curse Of The Iron Sabbath came out digitally back in December, but vinyl being stuck in limbo these days, the physical release is still in the land of preorders (what’s left are available here – the super-limited deluxe versions are already sold out). So don’t let that date over in the pullquote fool you, if it matters at all. What’s most important is that it’s there for the listening, now if you want it or later if you can wait. However you want to acquire Judas Curse Of The Iron Sabbath, acquire it you should.

Also don’t let the three titular references to classic metal bands lead you astray: Trad metal this is not. Judas Curse is rip-roaring and amped-up crossover thrash that pushes against the frantic intensity of grindcore, fast and furious and fun as hell, balanced precariously without ever quite tipping over that invisible line into something altogether more ugly.

Vocalist Nate Phillips’ manic chatter most closely evokes Blaine Cook of The Accüsed (my love for that band’s classic work has been previously documented), all motormouth chattering bark with a nearly palpable snotty sense of humor that even the raging and biting thrash-punk beneath him can’t muscle out. Drummer Brian Greenfield pummels his kit ragged, bringing a savage energy beneath Phillips’ rants and screams, while bassist Andrew Smeltzer and guitarist “Gordon Shumway” (a tip of the hat to all you 80s sitcom Alf-icionados) crank out heavily distorted chunky riffs offset with the occasional foray into semi-shreddy soloing, almost all of which sounds about a quarter step from complete collapse, a certain sloppiness that actually adds to Judas Curse’s gleeful spirit. Smeltzer’s bass tone is beautifully Lemmy-like, distorted and raw as hell, as he doubles his Melmacian compatriot an octave down, the two of them running around one another like they, too, are about one step from collapse.

With 23 songs in 28 minutes, many of Judas Curse’s tracks are blink-and-you-miss-them affairs, inspired by Phillips’ love of classic b-movies. Opening number “The Fury” is inspired by Stephen King’s killer-car tale Christine, whilst the 15-second “The Wolf Doth Howl” spends a good portion of that on a sample from Highlander. The occasional instrumental interlude pops up to offset the blitzkrieg, in the synth work of “The Horror Of Space…” and “… The Terror Of Time,” in the FX-ed stomp of “Nocturnal Pulse” or the closing spacey oddity of “Blast Overpressure,” but those are certainly the outliers, the chance to catch your breath before Traffic Death takes you for the next careening run around the track. The full fury of Judas Curse lies in ragers like the middle-finger-in-your-face singalong of “Too Late Fuck You” or the blistering punk of “Subconscious Grief” or the relatively slow (by these standards) crush of the death-metal-tinted “Close The Gates.” By the time the three-minute galloping thrash of “No Recovery” segues into the keyboards of “Blast Overpressure,” it’s been 28 minutes of raw and raucous crossover, custom-made for a surging circle pit.

So if raw, punky, thrashing madness gets your blood flowing, then Traffic Death has some snotty fury to throw your way. Take a ride over to Bandcamp or Sump Pump records and give ‘er a spin. And while you’re at it, if you want to catch up on everything you’ve missed, there’s a handy-dandy (and very affordable) compilation available over at Mortville Noise.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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