8. Adrenalin & Serotonin
DRI! These letters stood for the band that would wander
onstage during the early eighties, shout 1-2-3-4 and suddenly
become an entirely separate entity from the rest of the universe,
with Spike Cassidy flailing away like a recently released demon on
his large guitar, Kurt Brecht shouting out vocals like a drill
sergeant on PCP, and two anonymous guys (usually changing with every album)
pounding on bass and drums at high speed. One of the genre's
first, DRI helped define what thrash was to be: hardcore punk
crossed over with metal, played at high speed, top volume, and full
rage. Taking the simplicity and rage of hardcore and the heaviness
and intellectual approach of metal, thrash produced short and fast
songs with the stopping power of a .45 hollowpoint.
Their first album clocked in at 23 minutes with 28 songs on
it. DRI's second wasn't much different, having the same half-
minute-kill approach to many of the album's classic cuts. Shortly
after this, DRI slowed down. Whether it was the times, age, or an
impulse for popularity, we'll never know. I think it was
confusion, born of popularity, the demise of thrash, and
experimentation. Three more albums passed that way, and then DRI
all but disappeared.
Having been absent for a while, DRI have come back in with
more fanfare for their sixth album, produced through their own
Rotten Records label, located in Montclair. Coming up to this
album, DRI had several options. They could opt for their former
sound, continue the slower, near-speed metalish path they were
following, or try something unprecedented. Their newest album,
"Definition," waffles. The essential character is the continuation
of the style of their last album, with some improvements that
appear to be mainly the result of personnel changes and experience.
The music to "Definition" most resembles the style of their
album "Crossover," which was a slowed but vicious guitar shadowed
by bass and synchronized to incessant full-on drumming. In this
effort the smoother tempo changes and bridges learned in later
albums come to demonstrate greater musical prowess, something
thrash never aspired to.
Unlike Suicidal Tendencies and Cryptic Slaughter and Corrosion
of Conformity, thrash bands which changed fairly drastically and
became light speed metal acts without much distinctiveness or any
of their former emotional or lyrical brilliance, DRI changed but
did so without falling out of character. Their new music was as
caustic as their earlier stuff, only on a less-intense, more
New aspects of the music and lyrics come with this release.
Rob Rampy IV takes over the chore of drumming, and adds more of a
metallic touch, including double bass drumming and harder, more
driving drum patterns. Bass guitar, supplied by John Menor, has
taken the route followed by much of hardcore, with more interesting
fills and interludes, although the basic riff-following tendency
remains. Spike Cassidy's powerful guitar takes to somewhat more
complicated riffs and bridges but still retains its power with
minimalistic but authentic riffs. This album isn't as messy as
earlier efforts, which makes for a slicker listening experience but
often detracts from this genre.
"Definition" takes the new DRI sound and does respectably with
it, given all factors. There are changes like a non-distorted
lead-in to a song, more of a reliance on repetitive, chanted
choruses, and a general slickness, but I wouldn't class this album
with the efforts of so many bands to earn money. Call it aging,
call it changing opinions, call it a change for the worse but call
it authentic - there doesn't seem to be any hypocrisy in this, any
commercial drive. It's not their best by far, but for a 1992
album, it's much better than average. And expected: nothing that
energetic could last forever.
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