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  • JammT



You don’t need to over-engineer or over-think thrash. Even played at its optimum you just need to get the basics right. It is a genre that can be prone to restrictive stylistic parameters but, when executed really, really well, originality matters less if even at all. It’s a form of music that demands a certain degree of guts to pull off convincingly; a kind of full-blooded commitment that you can’t coach. It’s essentially an all-or-nothing art that requires brilliant delivery or risks being what metal sounds like to people who hate metal. Fortunately, and it is worth establishing at the outset rather than slowly develop a critique of this record, all the above applies directly to this rager of a debut from Chicago's Misfire.

The easiest and most obvious reference point for this would be the high tide mark of the Big Four era to which Misfire clearly owe a large debt for inspiration. The frantic riffing style, rattling warp speed progressions and occasional Kerry King style guitar whinnying all salute the golden epoch of the genre. There are also traces of DNA from the US sub-Big Four or the rawness of German vintage thrash (ala Destruction and Sodom). This is not, however, yet another indulgent piece of 1980’s fetishization as there is a strong manifestation of the pummelling groove of Pantera (Death Trap could be anywhere between Far Beyond Driven and Reinventing the Steel) or even Pissing Razors or Power Trip. Moreover there are some bassy hardcore cross-over bridges and breakdowns that give this an urban, knuckledusting veneer.

For a trio, Misfire make an almighty, and highly confident, din. The riffage - whether it be their Exodus style speed or Pantera-ism concrete slugging - is best-in-class for this genre in that it is at once memorable, good quality and incendiary. The emphasis is on good songs not just rush-of-blood-to-the-head velocity and hammering. The solos, meanwhile, are how they should be played in this style, spontaneous, eruptive, and cartwheeling. Moreover, the rhythm section is piston-tight and propulsive with an impressive percussion performance. The vocal style of vocalist / guitarist Jay Johnson is arguably similar to a slightly more hardcore barky version of a younger Phil Anselmo minus his Southern drawl. You can take your pick but there are consecutive standouts such as Red Flag, War of Mine, Skin of Mirrors, and No Offence - all rousing pit-inducing bangers that sow retro with modernity. The whole thing is executed with an optimum production sound that is crisp and enunciating and, at under 40 minutes, Misfire clearly know that all good thrash should be to the point.

Life is straightforward with Sympathy for the Ignorant and it is also good. This has the spirit of Pantera when they assuredly declared their intention of ascending into the top league. Misfire play with testosteronal assurance and high-energy verve as well as a discernible sincerity. In a live setting this could knock the roof off. Music for an old school pit we all hanker after but could no longer survive and stage flame machines.

Sympathy for the Ignorant was released in April 2022. Check out

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