Essentially, ‘Greatest Hits Vol.1’ is an extended jam session amongst a (rather large) group of contemporaries with a mutual appreciation for punk, hardcore and metal crossover. Despite being firmly rooted in the eighties, it sounds surprisingly fresh and fun, reflecting the spirit in which it was made, but like I said it doesn’t take all the spoils, in spite of the heavyweight midfield enforcer (HIM).
‘Exploder’, er, explodes, with a statement of intent of thrashing guitars and a punky chorus to set a boisterous tone for the rest of the album and is one of two tracks to feature main man Reed Mullin on vocals. The other track, ‘The Dead Hand’ is metal by numbers with apocalyptic cliché aplenty, there’s even a thunder roll, and unfortunately is not the only track to have an air of filler about it; ‘Clawhoof’, ‘Devil in this House’, ‘Your Empty Soul’ and ‘Bleeding Death’ all suffering from being a little forgettable, even with the vocals of Tairrie B. Murphy, Karl Agell, Aaron Beam and Vic Bondi respectively.
Nevertheless, the hype is not entirely undeserved, as there are a number of high points along the way; generally those songs with the higher profile contributors. ‘Ode to Hannity’ is a ridiculously genius mishmash of TV samples with Jello Biafra rambling the John Cleese poem of the same name over hard core guitar and drumming fury. Biafra’s instantly recognisable voice is still awesome, as is Corey Taylor’s (in Stone Sour guise) on ‘Egobomb’; a hard-headed slice of punching metal, with a smoking guitar break. In fact there is a fair portion of nice guitar work on display here, especially from Brian Baker on the punky ‘Barrio’ and My Ruin’s Mick Murphy on ‘Power Outage’.
Randy Blythe (L.o.G) on ‘Hung out to Dry’ and Phil Rind (Sacred Reich) on ‘Say Goodnight to the Acolyte’, with its rumbling bass line from HIM, more than hold their own, as does schoolboy Trenton Rogers, with a voice as old as my dad, on the title track. Other high points include ‘Big Money’, a good fun thrashalong hardcore classic, and ‘Son of an Immigrant’, a cut of hectic punk rock with a Californian feel, whereas the similarly political ‘Plank Walk’, featuring Pete Stahl, falls a little flat, despite delivering the line “I’m a modern gay man” with such relish.
‘Greatest Hits Vol. 1’ is a good time nostalgia fest for anyone with a love of punk, hardcore and metal crossover; and even the weaker tracks work within the context, representing the loveable imperfection inherent to the genres on display here. It’s an entertaining record but not quite the killer you might be hoping for, all the media hype resulting from Dave Grohl’s bit part involvement (and the sheer number of performers) proving a little misplaced.
Greatest Hits Vol.1’ by Teenage Time Killers is out now on Rise Records.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)