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Mind Wars - The Fourth Turning

Mind Wars
The Fourth Turning
by Mark Machlay at 20 October 2020, 6:40 AM

If you’re looking for perfect mix of 80's speed and thrash metal started by EXCITER and perfected by famous thrash acts like SLAYER, early METALLICA, MEGADETH and ANTHRAX, look no further than MINDWARS. The band is amalgamation between like-minded individuals to revitalize the speed and thrash of years gone by. A chance meeting in 1989 between guitarist Mike Alvord of California’s HOLY TERROR and drummer of HEADCRASHER, Italian native Roby Vitari while HOLY TERROR was on tour with EXODUS and NUCLEAR ASSULT got the two talking about a future project. Many years later in 2013, the two reconnected and started MINDWARS. Danny ‘Z’ Pizzi joined the pair on bass and wrote there full-length albums – “The Enemy Within” in 2014, “Sworn to Secrecy” in 2016 and “Do Unto Others” in 2018. While Vitari had relocated to California to write with Alvord, Pizzi, however still lived in Italy, making writing the records and the possibility of live shows very difficult. Prodigiously, Rick Zaccaro from California stepped in to play bass giving Pizzi the chance to move back to his natural instrument, the guitar. With their lineup refreshed and ready to go, they plan on attacking the new decade with vigor, that is, once everything starts opening up and the pandemic has lifted.

While HOLY TERROR may be dead, MINDWARS will carry on its legacy and has created some well acclaimed albums. They are back after only two years with “The Fourth Turning”, ten tracks of original songs and a SLAYER cover to satiate the fans quarantining at home. Before even noticing the cover songs, the SLAYER influence can be felt right from the opening track “The Awakening” with its heedlessly relentless driving riffs paired with sneering vocals, perfectly miraculous speed drumming, and crazy, chromatic soloing. It is classic speed and trash and will get your adrenaline pumping and your fists in the air. Alvord’s vocal style is hard to pin down as he has some of the unusual vowel contortions and guttural growls typical of MEGADETH’s Dave Mustaine but with the speed and accuracy of Tom Arraya. All the tracks remain in a tight 3-4 minute window resulting in none of the bloat and is indicative of the speed of all the tracks. The subject is also a bit of a SLAYER throwback too with a song like “(Who’ll Stop The) Aryan Race” I can’t help but think of “Angel of Death” and doesn’t disappoint as its one the fastest tracks on the album.

It’s clear from the crisp and clear production, leaving the band open to an audience hearing a mistake or two and never noticing any, that the band is pure thrash/speed metal pedigree. Pizzi’s turn back to guitar as a main instrument perfectly complements Alvord’s memorable riffs and prodigious solos. This album is catchy and full of piss and vigor. It’s a great album in sea of great thrash albums released so far this year and therefore it faces heavy competition for my top 10 of the year but it’s a fierce contender. The “Criminally Insane” cover was an amazing surprise as a I did a double take listening to a new rendition of one of my favorite SLAYER tunes reimagined.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Awakening
2. Fall In Line
3. MindWars
4. (Who’ll Stop The) Aryan Race
5. The System
6. Digital Dictatorship
7. Marching Off To War
8. Black Death
9. Blood Red
10. Holy Terror
11. Criminally Insane
Mike Alvord – Guitars & Vocals
Danny ‘Z’ Pizzi – Guitars
Rick Zaccaro – Bass
Roby Vitari – Drums
Record Label: Dissonance Productions


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