Sound — 8
After the success of their first two albums, Vio-lence went into the studio in 1992 to record their third record, unfortunatly, 1992 was when grunge was becoming popular, there was all the mainstream rock going on and the bay area thrash scene was on the verge of extinction. It seems that Vio-lence tried their hand at being a little more commercial with this record (like Metallica with the Black Album), and they didn't have much luck with it. Despite all the issues going on with the band, loads of manager changes, label difficulties and arguements during the recording of this album, "Nothing to Gain" does bear a very good batch of songs, although sadly the raw thrashy edge has lessened to a great extent. Opening track Atrocity starts of with a sharp picking bassline, an eerie guitar into and then BOOM!! It explodes into a chug-a-thon track with a sick solo. Twelve Gauge Justice is by far the best song on the album, with fantastic riffs, killer breakdowns and one of the best solos Phil Demmel ever wrote. Ageless Eyes seems to be the only song off "Nothing to Gain" that Vio-lence played live during their reunion days in 2001, and I see why, it's a pretty fast paced thrash song with a good solo and quite a catchy chorus. Pain of Pleasure/Virtues of Vice starts off with a beautifully crafted intro, then halfway through erupts into molten heaviness at the blink of an eye. A majority of the songs after the forth track are sadly, rather forgettable and more filler material than anything, although that's not to say they're bad songs. Closing track Colour of Life is one of the highlights here, as with Twelve Gauge Justice, it repeatedly beats you senseless with its thrashy riffs and screeching solos, with a chorus to die for. The perfect song to end the album with. Tone wise, the album seems sound and it's been mixed really well, although not by Alex Perialis, the highly favoured producer of "Oppressing the Masses". I think the sound on this album is good, but the style change didn't transfer as well as one would've hoped.
Lyrics — 7
There's a dramatic change for Sean Killian here, he sings! Yes, Sean actually sings on this album, as opposed to his signature wailing from the days of "Eternal Nightmare" and "Oppressing the Masses". And he doesn't fare too badly either. it's hard to look for themes in these songs though, Twelve Gauge Justice is a kind of like Officer Nice 2, and Pain of Pleasure is about, to put it simply, have sex with a whore. Other tracks like Ageless Eyes, No Chains and Killing My Words just don't seem to fit into any particular catagory lyric wise. I might add that the lyrics on this album aren't all quite as cleverly written as on previous records, as all the band members contributed to the writing process. Good lyrics, but slightly confusing and not as good as previous efforts.
Overall Impression — 7
Don't gte me wrong, "Nothing to Gain" is a really really good album, it's just not a very good Vio-lence album. The thrash is there, but the raw edge isn't. The songs are there, but the soul has gone. It does have it's redeeming qualities (Twelve Gauge Justice in particular) but as a whole it doesn't match up to "Eternal Nightmare" or "Oppressing the Masses". I'd have to say that Atrocity, Twelve Gauge Justice, Ageless Eyes, No Chains and Colour of Life are the most impressive tracks on this record, TGJ and COL in particular are amazing. But I guess that after the sldgehammers taht were their first two rtecords, this certainly feels like a step down. Phil Demmel himself has claimed that he strongly dislikes this album, but I don't think it's that bad at all, it's just not quite Vio-lence, that's all. A worthy purchase if you can find it, but don't expect another "Oppressing the Masses" because you'll be disappointed.