Hellfire and Damnation
I never in a million years would have thought that I’d like a record like this. A lot of bands that play ska-core are devoid of imagination and use the music’s fast tempos as an excuse not to learn to play their instruments properly. Thumper, the band that “put the ass in Massachusetts,” doesn’t fit into that category, though. They mix ska, punk, metal, and other influences to make Hellfire and Damnation a record that’s fun, imaginative, and yes, rawks out!
One of the usual problems with ska-core is that a lot of people have trouble fusing the two styles. You usually come away with a band that plays punk with horns and throws in a few “pick it ups” for ska credibility. Thumper have it down, though. Check out tracks like “American Ninja” or “Sinners, Blasphemers, and Fornicators” for great examples; both tracks rock hard but also rock steady. They goof around with some other styles, too. “Backstabber” has some neat hip-hop and speed metal moments, while the country intro to “All You Can Be” will surely confuse you. For sheer fun, though, nothing beats the cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” with a peppy ska beat and an opening riff straight from the theme from Fat Albert. Marilyn Manson wishes his version were half as good, or rocked half as hard!
Really, though, you can’t go wrong with Thumper. There’s something here for everyone! Put this record on next time one of your metal friends starts making fun of ska. I’m willing to bet he’ll be moshing along and throwing out the devil signs before it’s over. If you can’t have fun with this record, consider suicide. Elevator Music, P.O. Box 1502, New Haven, CT 06505; http://www.elevatormusic.com