The Work of Idle Hands... reviews
wallernotweller on December 16th, 2012
A great live band in thier day.
In 1986 at St. Georges Hall in Bradford, Metallica played a show on their Master of Puppets tour with Anthrax in support. I can only imagine how immense this gig was. At this time both of these bands were on fire. It must have been incredible, totally amazing. Three people that did witness the show must have agreed as they formed a band shortly after watching this event. This trio was Enzo, Milo, and vocalist Paul Tunnicliffe and the band they formed was Slammer.
I first read about Slammer in the pages of Metal Hammer and Kerrang! and at the time the magazines were comparing them to the likes of Acid Reign and Deathwish, two of the current top UK thrash bands. I remember thinking that I would love to hear them and then the next issue announced a show at Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall with Slammer supporting glammy also-rans Crimson Glory. I promptly booked the tickets and it became the second show that I ever saw.
I don’t remember too much from that night, but I do remember that it was nowhere near as full as Celtic Frost had been the two months before. I remember that I decided to watch them from the balcony rather than at the front and that Tunnicliffe was a brilliant performer racing around the stage. What I do know is that I enjoyed it enough to buy their debut album and before I even brought it home I was fascinated by its cover. On it were the four members wearing odd masks, but what was really important was that it was the first record I had owned that was printed on a matted rather than gloss cover and I will never forget the smell of the thing. It was (be it nerdy) the best thing and so it began with my odd and very irritating to others obsession with smelling new vinyl. To this day it makes my missus cringe every time I get home from a record buying session.
The music within the vinyl’s grooves is what really counts though and I was instantly taken by it. Thanks to record label's bidding for any new thrash kids on the block trying to jump on the multi-million selling Metallica thrash wave, Slammer were picked up by WEA straight from their demo and put into the studio to record The Work Of Idle Hands. It sounds huge, which is great, but unlike Onslaught’s major debut, the band still carried around some of that street- toughened Englishness about them. Musically, it was as good as anything the likes of the second tier of American acts were bringing out. The likes of Sacred Reich, Defiance, M.O.D., Whiplash, Annihilator, and Dark Angel were no worse or better for that matter than Slammer musically, but none had the brilliant vocalist that they had. Paul’s vocals are what make it stand out from the pack for me. It’s the rich, yet gritty husk in his voice that brings an extra element to the table and more often than not his delivery is scuppered by some pretty weak gang vocals that plague each bloody track.
Hellbound, for instance, begins with that classic thrash element of starting the track with an acoustic run before crashing in with that metallic crunch. It’s awesome and works as well as it should and yet the chorus has that Biohazard thug vocal thing during the chorus that’s never clicked with me. The “blow by blow” gang vocals in Johnny’s Home are the only time when it really works and I think that’s why it’s my favourite song here. Other highlights include Hunt You Down, which features another fantastic chorus, and the rather unhealthy Razor’s Edge, a song as far as I can tell is about obsessive love with the lyric “If I can’t have you then no one will, ever” that lingers a long time after the song has finished. There is also a lyrical theme of a passionate distaste for organised religion, which is quite smart running throughout, but overall I have to say what stands out most for me is Tuncliffe’s vocals.
After this was released, the band were dropped when new management came into the company and the band limped on for another ep and album, but the band were unhappy with Paul’s religious views, causing friction, which eventually tore them apart. Paul, never really being a metal fan in the first place, is now singing in a band called Squaredog and puts on acoustic singer/songwriter nights in his hometown of Bradford. I hope the guy is content. He deserves it. He made me a happy fella for many years.
SideShowDisaSter on September 9th, 2005
Prepare to be hunted down!
Here we have the debut of Slammer, a British band that, much like Xentrix, had a very American sound. These guys fit right in amongst all those second tier Bay Area acts. Like many of those bands, Slammer aren’t the most original, but they are damn good at what they do. These guys can flat out thrash! All the guitar work is impressive, with solid riffs flying all over the place and screaming leads that can shred bones! The bass is vibrant and never buried, as sometimes happens. The drumming on this album is excellent. Very tight and precise. As for the vocals, I’ve heard Paul Tunnicliffe called a James Hetfield clone. I strongly disagree. While they have a similar style, they really don’t sound much alike. Anyway, his vocals sound nice and raspy with his lyrics just spit out with plenty of force.
The album kicks of with Tenement Zone. An excellent thrasher that hardly lets up on the throttle. When it kicks in, you know these guys are serious. The vocals are biting and the riffs just come ripping out of the speakers.
If Thine Eye is next, and it is probably my favorite track. The vocals absolutely rage, as Paul just cuts loose with as much venom as he can muster. It starts off with a mid-paced riff and drum beat, then proceeds to steamroll everything in it’s way. Some nice technical riffing here.
The oddly named Johnny’s Home comes up next. Really cool riffs with a lot of hook here. The chorus has plenty of gang vocals that are typical thrash fare. There is a very cool acoustic part at around 2:19 or so in the song. This is followed by an absolutely blistering lead.
Razor’s Edge treats us to some pretty cool riff work that set the tone for the track. Nice little raging lyric in the chorus “If I can’t have you, then no one will!” Fairly solid track.
Acoustic guitar work greets us with the beginning of Hellbound. Then, at just over half a minute in, a crushing riff just comes roaring at you and then song just begins to rage! Fairly mid-paced during the vocal lines, but during the bridge the band just rips.
Hunt You Down starts off with one of those faded in beginnings. This would be my second favorite. The track just crushes from start to finish. I love the gang vocals during the bridge “You’ll be…PAID IN KIND!” The vocals just come snarling from Paul’s throat. Nice bass licks at around 2:30 into the song. Very catchy. Add in some double bass kick and a screaming solo. Nice touch.
Gods’ Prey is up next. It starts off slowly then rips with a nice thrash break before settling into a mid-paced feel for a while. Nice thrash break again around the chorus. I can’t get enough of Paul’s vocals. Full of spite and fury. The riffs are somewhat boring here and there, but it doesn’t kill the track thankfully.
Probably the least memorable track is next, being Fight Or Fall. This one just doesn’t have the hook that most of the other songs seem to have. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t seem to stick with you like the other songs do.
Aggressive riffing starts off No Excuses and believe me, it doesn’t let up. This track is out to pound your skull in. Nice chorus too, done with gang shouts. “THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!”
Born For War closes things out. Starts off kinda so-so, but then there’s this nice riff after about a half minute. After that, things just coming swarming. THRASH! Gotta love it. Definitely ending on a high note.
All in all, this is a very solid second tier album. Best tracks in my opinion are Tenement Zone, If Thine Eye and Hunt You Down. Only really one weak track, so it’s worth picking up if you can find it. It’s pretty hard to find for being on one of Warner Bros. labels.
The Work of Idle Hands... track list
|2||If Thine Eye||04:57|
|6||Hunt You Down||04:04|
|8||Fight or Fall||04:13|
|10||Born for War||04:30|
The Work of Idle Hands... lineup