At the rate these albums have been coming out, I need to either invent a time machine so I can go back to 1983 and learn to love thrash, or stick my head in the sand for another three years until a new trend is established. The number of thrash albums hitting these days is astounding, considering how the genre was all but dead until The Big 4 came out of hibernation. It's great news for adrenaline starved fans, because nothing can pump the blood like good ol' thrash can, but it's slightly less inviting for people like me who have never been filled to the brim with youthful bile.
“Destroy And Dominate”, the first real song on the album, eases its way into a gallop. With drums placed exceptionally high in the mix, there's no missing the beat. The song moves along, sounding remarkably like late-era Testament, from the slight hints of groove, to the vocals that piggy-back on Chuck Billy's patented roar. There are a few little twists of songwriting, the song never quite going where you think it's going to, that I appreciate. It helps elevate the song a bit above what the riff and vocals on their own would be.
“The Threat Of Things To Come” sounds wrong to me, as though the two guitars playing the opening riffs aren't synced up. It's a hard feeling to get over once the song gets going. There's a decent groove that gets going, and the gang vocals shouting the chorus to the song help drive the point home. But when the song slows down coming out of the solo, the barked vocals no longer work, and the song becomes tedious.
“Stick To Your Guns” ups the ante a bit, with a more standard, boiler-plate thrash approach, and a hint of melody to the vocals that make the song stand out as more memorable than the two that preceded it. At more than six minutes, it's still a touch too long, but it's a solid song all the way around. So too is “In For The Kill”, which makes the best use of the layered gang vocals of all the songs. I wouldn't quite call it a rallying cry, but the feeling is approximately apt.
The biggest problem with thrash, for people like me, is that the speed of the music makes the individual parts go by too quickly to be memorable. The songs on “Civilization Under Threat” aren't played at those sorts of tempos, but they suffer from the same problem. Over the course of an entire album, there are surprisingly few riffs that stand out. So much of the music gets lost in itself, competent when you're listening, but utterly forgettable once it's over. There isn't a single riff that will make a guitarist want to pick up his instrument and figure out what he just heard, and no vocals that will make you have to shout along.
“Civilization Under Threat” is a fine album for thrash fans, but the appeal is limited to only those who crave high-octane metal. Every song stretches its legs, and after a while, the album grows tedious. With so much material that never deviates from the blueprint, and served in such long chunks, the album takes patience not normally ascribed to thrash. For anyone who wants a bit of diversity, melody, and bits of addictive songwriting, Potential Threat SF isn't going to be for you.