Sound — 10
After such a colossal debut with 1988's "Eternal Nightmatre", one question was asked, can they do it again? The answer is, a huge resounding yes! "Oppressing the Masses" is every bit as good as it's predecessor and then some, with production duties being held by Alex Perialis (Testament, S.O.D). Can I just start off by saying that the guitar tone on this record is absolutely crshing, according to Robb Flynn, he brought in the S.O.D record to compare so that the tones sounded identical, and its shows. Every riff is crunchy, tastefully written and extremely varied. Opener 'I Profit' starts off with an almost eerie intro, then kicks headfirst into a bludgeon of thrash with possibly one of the best choruses ever. Track two 'Officer Nice' is (in my opinion) the best song on the album and up there as one of the best metal songs ever written, with a fast paced verse, insane solo and a fantastic bridge. Subterfuge and Engulfed by Flames sound like they could've come straight off Eternal Nightmare, World in a World starts with a brilliant riff then goes into a frantic thrash attack, and Liquid Courage is just, well, it's Liquid Courage. It has to be heard to be believed. The songs on this album are extremely well written, and a little less thrashier than thos eon Eternal Nightmare to give way for a little mrore melody, and they got the balance between the two perfect. There was another song recorded during the sessions for "Opprssing the Masses" called Torture Tactics, which was removed from the album at the last minute for being too offensive, censorship was a big issue that came up a lot when in regard to lyrics. The band had 20.000 albums already in store by this point and almost all of them were recalled by the label (although some very lucky people managed to get a copy with the song on it). Torture Tactics when then released in 1991 as the title track of a four song EP.
Lyrics — 9
As with the previous record, not everyone will like Sean Killian's vocal style. If you didn't like it the first time around then this isn't going to change your mind, end of story. The themes of the songs have improved considerably though, I Profit kind of explains itself, with the chorus line 'I Profit off all that you've got, give it to me'. Officer Nice is about a cop who lets off thugs and dealers in exchange for cash and drugs, World in a World is about a boy getting given his court sentence (I think), Liquid Courage covers alcohol-fuelled domestic vio-lence (pardon the pun), opporessing the Masses is obviously aimed at the gorvenment and Engulfed by Flames is well, about being Englufed by Flames? haha. Once again Sean has done a fantastic job writing these lyrics, and reading them you can tell he put a lot of thought into them. He voice is stronger than ever on this record and his voice stands out high above any of the other band members and their instruments.
Overall Impression — 9
How a band can make two timeless thrash records in a row is beyond me, but Vio-lence managed it flawlessly. The riffs, the solos, the punding drums, the blood curdling screams of Sean Killian, I can't find much to dislike about this. Easily on par with "Eternal Nightmare" in terms of thrashing standards. The standout songs on the album, although hard to choose, would have to be I Profit, Officer Nice, Subterfuge, World In a World and Oppressing the Masses. This album just kills the opposition stone dead, and my only complaint about it is the fact that Torture Tactics was taken off the album (then again, you can always buy the Torture Tactics EP). All in all, this album is every bit as good as "Eternal Nightmare" if not better in some aspects. Forget Death Angel, forget Testament, forget Sadus and Heathen, Vio-lence are PURE bay area thrash metal, and this record is one of the genres treasures. Play it loud, and play it with pride. Oppressing the Masses was reissued in 2003 as a 2-in-1 package with the Torture Tactics EP.