Formed back in 1987 by lead vocalist Doug Palmer, Radiation Sickness released a number of demos, EPs and split vinyl with uncompromising deathcore spirit during a fertile period up to 1990. Despite the six releases bearing their name the band split in 1992 before they had recorded a full album and during the recording of EP three, just as things seemed to be gathering steam. Two years after reuniting the sickness is back and a quarter of a century after starting things off they finally have a debut album, Reflections Of A Psychotic Past.
For a band 25 years old and clearly heavily involved in the scene it has the sound of the early grindcore creators. Heavy comparison can be made to British bands Carcass and Napalm Death with chugging guitars, the frenzied drums and pained lead vocals mixed with the unhinged free flowing energy of hardcore punk. All pulled off with chaotic panache.
What at first glance looks like a herculean effort of 19 tracks for this first release, this is not entirely true. The first seven tracks are brand new; songs of desolation and pain like I Stand For Nothing and The Place Where People Die as if the band is still traumatised by the suicide of original bassist Ryan Rollins in 1989. Palmer growls and strains as if on his death bed or one breath away from an aneurysm trying to keep up with Kevin Gibson’s hectic drumming and the guitar attack of Tom Ball and Byron Holton.
The remaining 12 are a remastered version of their 1990 EP, The Other Me – Journey Into Insanity. This is where the money is. Those who were not around the first time now have the chance to soak up the rapid-fire bang-bang-bang of that early work reigniting the excitement of the early days of the scene. The aggressive energy, fists rolled into balls and punch shit vibe from ex-guitarist Ricky Callaway’s stop-start riff on Ruthless and The Stooges-esque Escape To Insanity.
There is nothing terribly new here in terms of the deathcore landscape although it is a pleasure to revisit the early work and it blends well with the new tracks. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between the two eras. Think of Reflections Of A Psychotic Past as an anarchic showcase that serves as a mere taster for what might be to come now that they are back.
Reflections Of A Psychotic Past is available now on Abyss Records.