2005 Spook City Records
01. Fear The End MP3
03. No Hope For Us
04. Real Bad Luck
05. Fair Warning
06. Tear My Life Apart
07. Go And Die
08. Never Cease
09. Endless Pain
10. Die Alone
Until 2003, singer and frighteningly apocalyptic lyricist Mike Score was the only remaining All Out War founding member still with the band. Ironically, while on tour in support of their latest display of old school metal, Condemned To Suffer, last year, he left his own band high and dry, apparently sick of the sad state of the current hardcore scene and itching to get out. All Out War had come to an end. In less time than it took for the members to transplant Slayer riffs to breakdowns, the remaining four members recruited new singer Will Kummerer and reformed as Nerve Gas Tragedy, a virtual extension of late-era All Out War.
Even though Written In The Blood Of The Dead was released on Spook City Records, a label that has released some decent tough hardcore in the last couple of years, its source of musical inspiration is far from that, even if the album may and certainly does come across as very tough and pretty damn hardcore, as evidenced in opener "Fear The End": "In danger your life will always be, so run for your life and from me." Nerve Gas Tragedy is a metal band, with the speed riffs of "No Hope For Us," "Fair Warning," "Never Cease," and "Endless Pain" driving that fact home, case closed.
While Mike Score's lyrics were based on the world's demise, religious wars, and political corruption, they often came across as metaphoric verging on poetic. And while this only added to All Out War's appeal for those seeking quality lyrics with a purpose, it may have ultimately alienated the band in the metalcore scene they helped create, as his subject matter was extremely involved and isolating. In Nerve Gas Tragedy on the other hand, the lyrics of Will Kummerer suggest personal desperation and are thus much easier to relate to, as in "No Hope For Us": "Tired of living these days, tired of living this way. As time wastes away, growing weaker each day. Never will I pretend." His delivery is a consistently hoarse and throaty growl, immediately bringing to mind Brett Hoffmann of Malevolent Creation's glory days. And while less over-the-top than Mike Score in his delivery, it's no less intense.
Most of the songs ride the line between two and three minutes, and they usually feature two decisive breakdowns, much as All Out War was notorious for. Unlike that band though, guitar tag-team Taras Apuzzo and Jose Segarra have done away with the lengthy intros that usually added at least a minute to many early All Out War songs. Nerve Gas Tragedy thus is in the process of forging a new identity as a band that does very efficient business, which it shares in common with many of today's most popular hardcore bands. Still, the veteran status of each member guarantees the lack of filler and self-importance that young hardcore bands, raised largely on a diet of basic hardcore (instead of the old school thrash and death like Kreator, Mercyful Fate, Malevolent Creation, and Obituary like the members Nerve Gas Tragedy clearly have been) seem prone to.
My only real complaint is not the production in its entirety, because the mix is crystal clear for both guitars and the bass, but simply the low and muffled presence of Jesse Sutherland's bass drums. One of the strongest and most intimidating songs on the album, "Fair Warning," suffers slightly from this during the verses, where the rolling double bass is difficult to pinpoint. And while it cannot be a bad thing considering how effective its usage was in the final breakdown of All Out War's "Claim Your Innocence," Nerve Gas Tragedy use the exact same riff in the breakdown of "No Hope For Us."
Bottom Line: All Out War were one of the best bands of the nineties, but it's no secret that they shit the bed numerous times in their existence, thanks in part to consistently substandard support from Victory Records. Having already gained an invaluable reputation as being honest and hardworking, Spook City Records are the new home to the four out of five All Out War ex-members plus new singer who collectively are Nerve Gas Tragedy. These men are in their prime in terms of songwriting capability for the classic styles they pay homage to. Said best in Fair Warning: "Accept the fact that you've been warned."