When you think of names of metal musicians who display technical excellence on their instruments, Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan, Yngwie Malmsteen and John Petrucci seem to be the first who get mentioned. While those guys are all great players, it’s only when you talk to people who have a lot more underground listening expertise that names like Steve DiGiorgio get mentioned. This guy, while not the biggest “name” in the business, is one of (if not THE) best bassists ever to perform metal. While you may not know his name very well, you certainly know some of the bands that he’s recorded with – Testament, Autopsy, Death, Iced Earth, to name a few.
Back in the late ’80s, and bleeding into the early ’90s, DiGiorgio’s original foray into the world of metal came with the band Sadus. Arguably the most technically solid thrash metal band at the time, Sadus had a decent, but under-appreciated run. Their two Roadrunner releases, Swallowed In Black and Chemical Exposure, stand as the two best albums the label released but failed to push (probably because all their money was tied up in a band called Sepultura at that point). The third Roadrunner release, A Vision Of Misery, found the band losing their thrash sound and trying to be a death metal band, and shortly after it came out, they were done for six years. DiGiorgio bailed out for Death and ultimately other projects, which put the band in a holding pattern. They returned in 1998 with the abysmal Elements Of Anger, which left most thinking that they were done for good after that.
Thankfully, another long break has found this band back with a vengeance. Out For Blood is a very strong return to thrash/death form for Sadus. More thrash than death metal, the now three-piece band (guitarist Rob Moore is no longer involved) has launched a tight, brutal assault on the senses. There are moments on this CD that stand arguably as the best in their career.
Songs like “Sick” are awesome on all fronts. The guitars of Darren Travis are just crushing in a big, old-school power riff style. Even more than DiGiorgio, Travis is the star performer on this release. Songs like “Down” find Travis’ riffs to be compelling, while his evil voice is as coarse as you would expect from a thrash/death hybrid singer. Drummer Jon Allen is a maniac as well on Out For Blood, keeping pace from mid-tempo tracks like “Lost It All” through Pantera-paced numbers like “Smackdown”, and finally to the all out frenetic speed of songs like “Out For Blood”.
DiGiorgio, for his part, is still a monster. He’s not as prevalent as on previous releases, but some of the sounds that come out of his bass simply don’t sound like what you would expect. The tones he gets, specifically on “Smackdown”, are uncanny, as is the way some of his basslines are laid in to act almost as a traditional guitar bridge. While the focus ends up being on the individual playing on tracks like this, you can’t help but give these guys major props for sophisticated songwriting patterns instead of taking the easy, three-chord thrash route so many bands of this style adopt.
RATING – 9/10: It’s definitely a good thing that this band is back with a vengeance. Seeing the success that a band like Exodus has had with the releases of Tempo Of The Damned and Shovel Headed Kill Machine, you would like Sadus is entitled the same type of listenership. Musically, they are the better band. It may be thrash for the metal aficionado, but it’s also kick-ass metal for those who just want a sore neck at the end of their listening experience.