Sound — 5
Skinny jeans. White hi-tops. Denim jackets. If you aren't humming 'Pleasure To Kill' yet, Violator may not be the band for you. As I'm sure we are all aware, on asking for a fresh injection of thrash, hordes of imitators will come running, looking for your attention. Each and every new thrash band that emerges these days will be compared to legions of identical groups who are, truth be told, most likely playing the same riffs. Only a fool would claim that every band has something worthwhile to offer, and unfortunately bands like Violator will receive praise for refreshing the memory rather than stimulating musical minds. Overrun by minor 2nds and diminished 5ths from the get-go, 'Chemical Assault' is an intensely old school thrash album. Thrash disciples will probably lap it up, but for those of us who are more selective with our listening habits there are not any particularly standout qualities that are required to make a decent thrash album these days. There are some intense performances from the Brazilians (especially from drummer David Araya) and they clearly have some dedication to their music, which is always nice to see but a record can very rarely be carried on passion alone. One thing they manage to do right is in their arrangement, bucking the 'one riff, one song' trend by stuffing every track with at least four or five riffs. Ultimately though, primitive production and nostalgia for dusty old records does not qualify Violator to compete with their elders on a musical level.
Lyrics — 7
Being addicted to mosh, ordered to thrash and destined to die can be quite a burden on a young man. The lyrics penned by Violator are truly reflective of the deep emotional turmoil that the members have experienced. No, but really the topics covered on 'Chemical Assault' are identical to those to be found on a Nuclear Assault album, though the way the lyrics are written does add a certain depth beyond the standard chorus refrain and clich 'political statements' of thrash metal. Some effort has been taken to write coherent songs lyrically and this provides Violator with an extra dimension to add to their otherwise very linear approach. A strength that Violator are occasionally noted for is the conviction behind vocalist Pedro Arcanjo's delivery is consistently anguished and brutal. Maybe so, but in fact I find the vocals put across a sort of immaturity in the music which is partly down to the punk-tinged attitude but also due to the nature of his frankly underwhelming voice.
Overall Impression — 5
No matter what thrash stalwart you compare Violator to - Exodus, Vio-Lence or, perhaps most fittingly, countrymen Sepultura - you will always find yourself leaning towards those more established bands because innovation will always beat nostalgia. As great as it is to have so much selection in thrash and have a few really great modern records to put on ('Enter The Grave' and 'Feed The Beast' spring to mind), it does have its downsides. As much as they may want it, as hard as they may try, Violator do not establish themselves as their own band, instead simply tempting the listener to break out a record from 1986 and remember how thrash is really done.