Shah – Escape From Mind - 3/5
Let me start up by saying that I have never heard any material by Shah besides this album although after re-listening to this demo a couple times that will surely change soon. It also should be mentioned that I love thrash but grade very tough and hate it when its overly generic. I admit I was expecting some typical Metallica or Slayer worship with some added touches to try and separate them from the pack. Despite low expectations Shah proved to have a little bit of something of their own.
Although Shah obviously take heavy influence from the Bay Area scene the vocals are short grunts that most of the time are about as decipherable as the lyrics on Napalm Death’s classic debut “Scum”. However the choruses are done in gang vocal format and turn out quite memorable despite and catchy as one word phrases repeated. Despite the poor recording and muddy feeling on the vocals it actually gives the album a somewhat more humorous feeling then the recording would have otherwise.
The riffs are pretty typical Bay Area worship but are quite catchy at times. While Shah certainly shows the ability to stumble onto good riffs you can’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu every once in a while on the album (“Mad Future” in particular is some sort of weird Big Four hybrid track). While the main riffs lack a bit of originality what really stands out is Antonio Garcia’s well-executed lead guitar work. Moments such as the outro to “Outside”, the solo to “Escape”, and the solo on “Fire” showcase a strong sense of melody which gives this album character that many less inspired bands would kill for. Whether it’s the melody drenched leads or the fast theory based shredding this album has some good guitar work.
While there are standout tracks that would make good thrashers on any album such as the melodic riff-oriented “Outside” the technical yet aggressive “Fire” and the well written thrasher “Escape”. However most of the songs on the album are not nearly as grabbing and come off as slightly lacking compared to the better bands of the day. Its not that the music is poorly executed, in fact its very well executed for the day, it’s just that the song writing leaves a fair amount to be desired on most of the tracks.
At the end of the day it’s a good album considering its based on a demo recording. Shah shows both technical prowess and potential in the song-writing department for such a little known band. For those who can’t get enough of that thrash metal sound this is definitely a very decent release with a few keepers. Shah definitely shows potential for development in the song-writing department. While it lacks a few important points it makes for some decent thrash from the middle of the 80’s thrash metal boon.
An interesting side: Shah was one of the first thrash metal bands in the U.S.S.R. and the first to sing in all English.
By Z. Orloff