NYC Mayhem: For Real! 12"
The latest reissue from the great Radio Raheem Records, and once again they hit it out of the park. Like their other reissues, this one is an absolutely beautiful package, with period-appropriate artwork and a big, full-color booklet featuring an extensive history of the band, photos, flyers and the like... in other words, exactly the type of thing you want to sit down with when you spin this slab. As for the music, NYC Mayhem was most famous (to me at least) because they shared two members with Straight Ahead, and over the course of this 12" you can hear them gradually developing the sound they would arguably perfect on the Straight Ahead 12" EP. The a-side begins with a June '85 demo that is pretty much raw thrash metal... the band history in the booklet explains that they were inspired by the first wave of raw European thrash metal like Venom, Sodom, Kreator, and the like, and as such it's not much different than the thousands of other demos that made the rounds in the tape-trading circles of the time. The recording is incredibly raw, and probably most interesting for thrash scholars or people really, really interested in how the band's later sound came together. Midway through the b-side of the LP you finally get to For Real!, which was to be the band's 13-song debut 7". On this session the band has worked through a lot of the more stereotypical thrash influences, brought in some of the proto-blasting hardcore of European bands like Larm and their US contemporaries like DRI, and started to work in the straight edge-style breaks that would become an increasingly large part of their sound. If you're coming to this as a Straight Ahead fan this is what you want to hear, and it definitely sounds like a rawer, formative version of that band. It's a sound that not many other bands of the time plied, and it's unique, powerful, and well worth the price of admission on its own. So, all in all this package is definitely everything you could ever hope it would be, and if you're a fan of either raw 80s thrash metal or the late 80s NYHC scene this is pretty much essential listening.