ZNÖWHITE, Kick’Em When They’re Down (1985, Enigma)
Incredibly big and almost impossibly dumb, this skull appears to have been hand crafted by an airbrush artisan at the boardwalk or something. It would have looked incredibly boss sprayed on the back of a denim jacket. The sinister sockets and rictus grin give the skull the air of midgrade malevolence you’d expect from a guy who’s waiting for the rank stink of his unleashed flatulence to reach you.
Pencil thin production and reedy female vocals somewhat mar this otherwise above-average thrash metal EP. The full length that follows it, Act of God, is an underrated classic though, one of the best Metallica-inspired thrash albums of the 80s, and singer Nicole Lee fully redeems herself there. Guitarist Greg Fulton (known then as Ian Tafoya) was always the star of the show, however, with one of the tightest right hands in the business, and his rhythm work on Kick’Em When They’re Down is pretty damned impressive for 1985. Znöwhite eventually morphed into Cyclone Temple, and their debut is another minor masterpiece, but after that album, Fulton lost his magic and his discs got more and more boring.
– Friar Johnsen