They may call themselves Anger Management, but there is nothing managed about the unhinged torrent of rage that pours forth from the speakers when you put ‘beyond the threshold of pain’ into your long suffering CD player, rather what hits you is the full force of sitting in Slayer’s rehearsal room while they decide which Pantera song to cover.
Of course, the warning signs were all there. Anger Management’s members have all been involved in skin-shreddingly heavy outfits before (drummer Jamie ‘Jammer’ Airns played for both Murder One and Medulla Nocte) while the list of bands that they have played with listed in the press-release includes Ted Maul, 3 Inches of Blood and Malefice as well as many more, none of whom you’d wish to share a stage with if you played anything less than face-melting, full-on metal. Happily from the moment the guitar phases into view on ‘lifelong suicide’ it’s clear that Anger Management have spent a good deal of time honing a sound that harks back to the glory days of nineties metal when Machine Head, Sepultura, Pantera, Metallica and Slayer all ruled the roost and when the formulaic metal-core (or whatever the deuce you kids call it) of Killswitch engage was happily non-existent. Brimming over with rage, the vocals here are a full-throated attack on the senses that recall Phil Anselmo at his building-levelling best while the guitars switch effortlessly between nimble-fingered shredding and huge, juddering riffs all propelled by the super tight drumming of Jammer. ‘Show your anger’ is, if anything, an even faster attack modelled, perhaps, on the Blitzkrieg so utterly devastating is the sonic firepower employed and you can guarantee that no mosh pit in the world will be able to resist the super-strong gravitational pull of this none-more-brutal track.
Anger Management slow things marginally for the doom-laden opening to ‘Eyes of the lifeless’, a particular favourite, that kicks off like the bastard offspring of ‘Davidian’ and ‘a new level’ and if that doesn’t have you running to the record store in February when this noisy little bugger is released then you don’t deserve to call yourself a metal fan. ‘Fear and self loathing’ further cements those Pantera comparisons although the band have clearly aimed to develop themselves beyond that justly lauded band and Matt Cox’s vocal range is certainly a vital asset to this powerful band as he’s equally capable of a skull-flattering roar as he is of a tuneful bellow – skills which he uses to good effect on this track over guitars that could be used to crush diamonds. The final track ‘ignorance is bliss’ rounds off the EP and is liable to leave all but the hardiest metal fan feeling like they’ve just been in the ring with Mike Tyson (with all the attendant ear damage that they may suggest!) thanks to the unremitting battering that the band are pleased to hand out.
Overall this is a mightily impressive EP that has no weak track. The advantage of the format is that it offers bands the chance to display their very best works without stepping into potential filler territory and here Anger Management use every moment of their eighteen minutes to maximum effect. The comparisons to Machine Head and Pantera are not only justified but demanded by a band who are far more developed and at a far earlier stage than either of those mighty bands and it would not be hyperbole to suggest that if Anger Management continue in a vein of this quality then they could easily stand toe-to-toe with Machine head in a very short space of time. Of course, such a bludgeoning attack would become wearisome over the course of a whole album, so hopefully the band will introduce some elements of variation when they come to record their debut full-length but in the meantime this is a masterful, brutal slice of heavy metal at its very finest played by some worryingly talented musicians. Expect to hear a lot more from Anger Management soon. They. Fucking. Slay.