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Workshed - Workshed

by Max Elias at 05 October 2019, 12:56 PM

WORKSHED make their debut with the loud, noisy, punk-influenced Thrash Metal of bands like S.O.D. or D.R.I. The songs are straight-ahead, full of meaty riffing and crushing percussive power. Vocalist Adam Lehan sounds a bit like an angrier Lemmy Kilmister, which does make sense as this band is also from England. I’m not sure where exactly but maybe there’s a connection. From the first track (“The Windowpanes At Lexington”) the band’s approach is cemented. It’s simple, old-school crossover metal, but there is room within that for a surprising array of riffs.

“If This is How it Is” is another example of this; it starts with a slower, groovy drone riff, and launches into a blistering triplet feel for the verses. Based on the previous track, the one thing I would not have expected to hear was a clean section; but there is one, right after the second chorus. It lasts for about 15 seconds before more ponderous power chord chugging take over. The style of metal they play is very primal - no soloing except for a few indistinct whammy bar squeals towards the end.

The Thrash Metal roots are most apparent on “Nowhere To Go”, a mid-tempo mishmash of syncopated 80s Thrash riffs mixed with Lehan’s coarse vocal delivery. The main riff sounds like something older EXODUS would have written. “Anthrophobic” is the polar opposite; it is slow and takes a couple minutes to build up. There is even a section around 3 minutes in where ringing clean notes alternate with brash distorted pounding. This dynamic forms the basis of the song once it appears. It’s not a bad song by any means, but it goes on longer than it needs to. The shortest song here is “On Sticks Of Wood”, which doesn’t waste anyone’s time beating around the bush in terms of song structure. It’s full-speed, raucous hell until the end. The hastily barked-out choruses have a gang-chant element to them that makes it hard to resist headbanging.

This is an album with a clear common thread, but there is a lot of variety possible. “A Spirit in Exile” is one such moment; beginning with a mellow bass and light drum intro, it briefly crescendos before returning to its crawling pace, while the vocals are softly crooned on top. The heavier choruses are still slow and fuzz-drenched. It segues well into “Safety Behaviours”, which opens with a rolling, grooving MÖTORHEAD style riff. The harsh vocals are back too.

Album ender “It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way” is an anthemic closer that gets the energy up. The meaty triplet feel sounds like a slower version of METALLICA’s “No Remorse” and the drumming matches the intensity perfectly. There are even little bursts of melody coming from the guitars, something else rarely seen on this album. The marching choruses entice listeners to shout along in defiant glee with the anti-establishment, ant-status-quo message that has been a cornerstone of the development of metal and punk and heavy music in general since its inception.

This is an impressive debut album; good riffs, every instrument is audible, crafty use of dynamics on songs like “Arthrophobic” and “Spirit in Exile”. Thrash did not die, it just changed, and although this band is a bit out of the established comfort zone of the modern Thrash Metal scene, which raises the technical bar and emphasizes technique, it’s an original piece of art because of that.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Windowpanes At Lexington
2. If This Is How It Is
3. Nowhere To Go
4. Anthrophobic
5. On Sticks Of Wood
6. This City Has Fallen
7. A Spirit In Exile
8. Safety Behaviours
9. It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way
Adam Lehan - Vocals, Guitars
Helen Storer - Bass
Mark Wharton - Drums
Record Label: Rise Above Records


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