Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In Praise of Intruder

For those of you who had lived through the thrash metal era, you might remember Intruder, a band with a take- no- prisoners- level of intensity.

By: Vanessa Uy

By the mid 1980’s, thrash metal a metal music for urban skateboard enthusiasts as opposed to The Beach boys’ surf rock music, was in full bloom. This musical genre which was believed to had begun in San Francisco area hence the term “Bay Area Bangers” which was used to describe bands like Metallica, Testament, and Exodus. It became such a lucrative money- making “investment” to the music biz that some bands began copying the style and sound of their more popular contemporaries like the supposedly mythological case of Metallica versus Testament.

Intruder, somewhat late entrants of the thrash metal trend, tried their best to achieve originality while penning the most righteous thrash metal music ever recorded. By the release of their “A Higher Form of Killing” album, Intruder was touted as one of the best new comers of the 1989 thrash metal scene. Some of the music press at the time described them as a “progressive metal” act and comparing them with Queensr├┐che and Fate’s Warning. To me, just because a heavy metal has a vocalist who sounds like he or she is an alumnus of Juilliard School of Music or Berklee; or a clean sounding, well recorded album doesn’t automatically make one a progressive metal act.

One of Intruder’s notable trademarks includes beautifully designed album cover art. Probably “Iron Maiden” influenced. Like the post-apocalyptic war zone with a cyborg soldier scene on “A Higher Form of Killing,” and the Dr. Hannibal Lecter like character on their next album “Psycho Savant.”

Of the two albums I heard so far, my favorite is “Psycho Savant” because it reflected the band’s growth since the release of “A Higher Form of Killing.” My favorite track on the “Psycho Savant” album is NGRI or “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.” I really love the reverb and the other effects that are engineered into this song. Heavy metal bands of late have acquired disdain for well- recorded albums and effects. Is this just a form of Bolshevism in the metal world or is recording an album with the same level of sound quality, as Intruder’s “Psycho Savant” had become too expensive by present day standards. In terms of musicianship, any guitar player who can play and sound like they had graduated from Juilliard or Berklee. Or whose guitar playing skills is as good (Choose to play good?) or better than mine will always be my instant favorite.

My careful examination of the lyrics reveals the “politics” of this band. Intruder might be Evangelical Christians like Stryper (the best of their kind and remains unequalled even now), but Intruder are quite subtle about expressing their beliefs in their songs just like what POD is doing as of late. This manifests on the Intruder song “Final Word,” in which their ideology leans toward the pro-life camp. I’m pro-choice for the same reason that I invest in a good security system.

Even though their music is written from a time when the Evangelical powers-that-be still practice rationality. Music wise, I love Intruder. Politically, I’ve always mistrusted the “Evangelical Tribe” because their elder statesmen had been using the errant ramblings of Nostradamus as a basis for formulating the present U.S. Foreign Policy.

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