If the name didn’t give it away, Mindwars is the new band featuring former Holy Terror guitarist Mike Alvord. The general consensus on Holy Terror in the thrash community seems split. On the one hand, I have come across a staggering number of people who proclaim Holy Terror is the best thrash band of all time; on the other, many such as myself enjoy the music but do not think they stood above the crowd in the 80’s. With that said, despite hints of Holy Terror in their music, Mindwars is definitely a separate entity. Their debut “The Enemy Within” is a more diverse offering of thrash, as it brings in influences from outside the subgenre.
Punk is definitely the first influence that comes to mind. Alvord, who is also the singer, has a huge Uncle Slam/Suicidal Tendencies vibe going on with his voice. He is a really talented singer, but is limited mostly to the sound of the aforementioned bands vocally. This vocal approach is not particularly popular in thrash these days, and that makes “The Enemy Within” a refreshing change from many other thrashers. The music somewhat parallels those bands (Uncle Slam particularly). Although things definitely get fast, they are never at speeds that are out of control, nor are they excessively heavy. This might sound like a negative thing, but it’s really a positive element to Mindwars’ music. The lack of obsession over speed means that the band can focus on songwriting, and there are a few gems in here. “Death Comes Twice”, “Final Battle”, and “Chaos” are all relatively strong cuts that focus on catchy vocal melodies, fun riffs, and lots of headbanging. “Final Battle” in particular has a great pounding rhythm to it. Other times though, they go in a different direction. “Masters of War”, for example, also is quite rhythmic, but it spends a lot of time plodding as it builds to a more interesting section.
One element of “The Enemy Within” that is fantastic is the production. It is decidedly old school. It’s a bit more laidback in its approach, but still manages to sound great. The sound leaves a lot of room for the bass and drums to breathe, and these band members capitalize on this. The fills are really accented because of how lifelike and non-mechanical the drums are. One section where it all comes together perfectly to display the production’s merits is in the guitar solo section of “Chaos”. The solo is shredding and Alvord has a great tone, but the drums are monstrous as well, leaving plenty of room for Alvord to do his thing.
On the whole, “The Enemy Within” is a pretty solid record. Despite its 2014 release, this album is more likely to appeal to those fans seeking old-school sounding thrash. The Holy Terror connection seems more in name than sound, but fans of Holy Terror should still check this album out. Again, this album is most recommended to fans of Uncle Slam because every time I listen to “The Enemy Within”, I get huge vibes of “Say Uncle”. This is still a unique record in its own right, but that is definitely the closest comparison.
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"Death Comes Twice"
3.8/5 or 76%.
Written by Scott