SARCASM, Revolt (2006, On-Parole Productions)
For as big and central as this skull is, this cover couldn’t be less exciting. It fails to properly capture true dumbness, and neither does it offer even a whiff of adolescent heavy metal cool. The motion blur in the lights and the fuzziness of the skull are obviously a desperate attempt to make any artistic statement at all with this cover, but what that statement is, and how it relates to the title, I couldn’t say. Nevertheless, this is probably the perfect embodiment of a color I would never have thought possible: neon brown. What could be dumber than that?
Slovenia’s Sarcasm started as a fairly typical eastern European thrash band, attempting a relatively melodic take on the genre but playing it with the precision of mid 80s German thrashers (note: not a compliment). It appears they took the 90s off, taking thirteen years to follow up their 1989 debut, and in that time they mellowed significantly, with Revolt sounding more like speedy traditional metal (bordering occasionally on power metal) than thrash. Arakain, a favorite of mine from the Czech Republic, made a similar transition, albeit with more grace (and much better tunes). Sarcasm are hobbled by congenital sloppiness: the playing is haphazard, the half-barked, half-sung vocals are rather bland, and no attention is paid to the details. But, the songs are generally pretty fun, with some good riffs that recall the better middle-tier European speed metal acts of the 80s, and the production is appropriately but not distractingly old school. About half the lyrics are in what I assume is Slovene, but the rest are in English, and it must be said that these are not good. Slovene (or whatever it is) is an excellent metal language, like Czech, but even when singing in their native tongue, they make some regrettable choices, notably the chorus to “Silicon Carne” which REALLY sounds like “Chili con carne”. I’d love it if this play on words was intentional, but it almost certainly was not. Revolt is maybe not quite good enough to really get excited about, but it at least stokes an interest in their other releases. Unfortunately, this appears to be the apex of their melodic sound (their lone release since is not as good), and the earliest, pure thrash album, while perhaps more successful on those terms, is not as good in an absolute sense. If I happen to notice the release of a new Sarcasm album, I’ll probably check it out, but not with a great deal of optimism.