Razor - Shotgun Justice - Deluxe Reissue
Relapse Records
Angry, Violent Thrash
20 songs (57:17)
Release year: 1990
Relapse Records
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

Canuckistan thrashers Razor popped up on my radar when a conversation came about discussing the "angriest" thrash releases. Well, Shotgun Justice was one of the frontrunners in the convo and that generated enough interest in them for me to check them out. This deluxe reissue of said album is my first real exposure to Razor and it has left an impression to say the least.

That whole thing about this being one angry ass album rings profoundly true. While alot of heavy metal posturing can be seen as similar to personas portrayed by athletes in the WWE, Razor and their brand of anger come across as more of a backyard wrestling vibe, one where people take it to a certain extreme. If Metallica is the polished Hulk Hogan of thrash and their fans are All American Hulkamaniacs, Razor is the 350 lb sunburned ginger with arms like meat slabs whose sandpaper hands are wielding a splintery 2x4 and his fans are various crews of pissed off construction workers, manual laborers, disgruntled forklift operators, and other people who deal with heavy machinery day in and day out for their livelihood. What makes this band sound so damn angry? For one, the riffs are just pure, unadulterated pummeling intensity. Most of the tracks range from two to barely over three minutes in length. Drums are brutal and pounding. The second huge factor in the anger of the band is their singer, Bob Reid. He screams and barks and sounds like he had a pretty shitty day putting up drywall for some sweater vested asshole. His delivery of the extremely caustic and biting lyrics is vicious and full of seething hate and sarcasm.

That's another thing that should probably be honed in on. The lyrics on Shotgun Justice are... how can I say this? Very literal, very direct, and with not a hint of subtlety. Topics range from airing complaints about the decline of the city of Miami as well as grievances in the music industry, to playing live onstage and thrashing out wildly, quitting jobs and drinking to celebrate, to killing someone in a bar parking lot with a shotgun, beating people to death, and several more acts of brutal violence. Razor also breaks the fourth wall quite a bit. From the very first song, the band is liberally self referential. He literally is singing about singing a song about Miami and how it sucks, in a song called Miami. Violence Condoned is about a show being delayed because a club owner didn't want to pay so the band's fans tore up the place. Another track, American Luck sings about the band and how it seems to them that being Canadian is a detriment to their success. These type of completely on the nose lyrics, combined with the subject matter is both a strength and a weakness. I hate to say it, but the album feels a bit long even though it's almost the ideal length. The main album is just short of forty minutes, yet feels a bit longer with fourteen songs. On this re-issue there's also almost twenty minutes of live tracks and alternate takes but those don't feel redundant at all and actually make for good bonuses.

With all the songs being so relatively short, there aren't any extended instrumental sections. Guitar solos are even kinda rare on this album due to the brevity of the songs. Even when there is a guitar solo, sometimes there's a rhythm guitar going on underneath it, and then other tracks there's not. This gives the album a kind of haphazard feel to it. For example, Miami has a solo with rhythm guitar underneath then a few tracks later Electric Torture has a solo with just the bass to back it up. Usually, bands either do one method or the other, not make it sound like someone didn't show up to the studio to record that day. But, despite this, the Razor works well with what they have and are for the most part convincing. Shotgun Justice really is an extremely intense and angry album, so much so it's both kinda scary and energizing at the same time. The music contained is exactly like the album cover looks: ugly, unrefined, and uncontrolled crudity.

Killing Songs :
Electric Torture, Shotgun Justice, American Luck, Violence Condoned, Meaning Of Pain, Burning Bridges
Ben quoted 70 / 100
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