Gama Bomb - Citizen Brain (Cover Artwork)

Gama Bomb

Citizen Brain (2008)


The thrash resurgence of late has been somewhat of a mixed blessing. Previously not-so-well-known bands like Merciless Death and Blood Tsunami have experienced increased popularity, and revered veteran acts such as Testament and Metallica both have new releases this year, garnering even more press for the genre. However, much like many of the bands covered here on the 'Org, these artists have polarized legions of punks (or rather, in this case, metalheads) around the world, guaranteeing countless online tirades and insults thrown back and forth like James Hetfield's hair in the `80s. Now, music is a matter of opinion, but a review is a review, and so, never having heard this band before this release, I will attempt to give you an unbiased opinion of an album which has done just that. This album is called Citizen Brain, and it is brought to you by young Irish thrash enthusiasts Gama Bomb.

First off, let me begin by declaring the production on this album near flawless. It's definitely raw enough for those who appreciate the human quality of a record, but it's also clean and the tone is outstanding. The opener, "Zombie Blood Nightmare" immediately brings to mind the sound of Metallica's heyday (definitely nothing wrong with that), and is a heavy-hitter of a track, with blazing fast riffs, multiple solos and shouted gang vocals. Right from the start, there is a somewhat obvious punk influence, and lyrics throughout the album take cues from the Misfits and other horror and sci-fi-related groups. "Final Fight" is another killer of an anthem, which includes the coin sound effects from the NES classic "Super Mario Bros.," and a ripping solo based on the beloved "Tetris" music. Talk about old-school. In fact, the entire record has a great classic feel to it, and were it not for the production, one could almost swear it was recorded during the first emergence of the genre. Pop culture references of the past appear often as well, adding to the barrage of nostalgia and making the album a lot more fun than you would even expect a thrash album to be.

There is nary a failed riff, nor are any of the solos simply mediocre, and I found it damn near impossible not to bang my head along with the grooves, though I forced myself to stop for fear of whiplash. The rhythm section definitely keeps up with the lightning-fast pace, making each note that much more pleasing to the ear.

Now for the bad. One of my only gripes is that it's almost pointless to try and tell the tracks apart, as the record could be one long song, and no one would be the wiser. The same notes and chords appear often, and the tempo would do well with a smidge of variety. My other complaint is that Philly Byrne's shouted vocals (I'm not sure I heard any actual singing whatsoever) match the speed and style of the music perfectly, but never seem to change either. It's fun for a while, but I found myself wishing for a guest appearance from someone like Glenn Danzig, just to hear an actual note escape from someone's throat. Luckily, the songs are pretty short, so no one here overstays their welcome, and it helps to digest the yelling and screaming.

Overall, Gama Bomb pull off a surprisingly enjoyable sophomore effort, and I have to say, have made a fan out of me. The band obviously loves what they do, has a definite talent for it, and the spirit they show on the record is easy to get caught up in. Of all the newer thrash LPs coming out of the woodwork, you could do much, much worse than Citizen Brain.