heavy metal

Jersey Dogs – Thrash Ranch re-issue

Jersey Dogs top of album cover It is well agreed that in 1986 heavy metal had a changing of the guard as thrash metal would peak and prove to be a force to reckon with. The rest of the decade would see a plethora of young aggressive headbangers strapping on their bullet-belts and picking up guitars This, in response to the glitz and glam that did not satisfy the rage of youthful angst.

Not only were newer bands emerging with newer sound but many already seasoned metal veterans were joining the new regime as such was the case with Lou Ciarlo, Mike Sabatini, and Mike Benetatose of Attacker fame following the break-up after Attacker’s sophomore release The Second Coming.

The New Jersey trio decided to put together a new outfit under the name Jersey Dogs that would move away from the dungeons and dragons, sword and sorcery themed heavy metal that had gone out of fashion by the end of the 1980s.

The band’s first effort would be the EP Don’t Worry, Get Angry that would be released on the now legendary Wild Rags label. The five-song record, consisting of two cover tunes would dawn the crude cover of the Earth in a toilet that told you just what you were getting with those recordings. The following year Jersey Dogs would release their first full-length effort Thrash Ranch, this time with a very misleading album that made the release appear to more of a Warrant of Great White type band oppose to a thrash metal band. Obviously, the new label Grudge swung and missed by a mile with this decision. Bad packaging decisions and a not so good choice of title was most likely the reasoning that Jersey Dogs failed to find an audience.

The songs contained on both releases such as Who’s to Blame, Why is?, Wasted World, and Just another Pretty Day are cynical, aggressive, and pissed off, everything one would want in a good thrash song. The track Blood from a Stone was an in the face beatdown that on the original Thrash Ranch release had the song lyrics purposely omitted so to “protect the guilty”. (Now printed in the re-issue) And although funky goof off numbers like Grease Funk Chicken is stupid on a thrash album, they were common in the era it seemed that every band had at least one such track.

However, despite the bad decisions that were working against the best interest of the band, what was contained on both releases was solid thrashing heavy metal that border-lined on a bit of a crossover hardcore punk sound similar to D.R.I. Certainly, Jersey Dogs were not re-inventing the subgenre or even bringing anything new to the table. Still, they were nothing that should have so easily been overlooked. If nothing else Jersey Dogs merely suffered from misdirection, sadly that is all it took to send them into the footnote column of the pages of thrash metal history.

Doing what H&H Records do they have taken this oddity and cleaned it up, re-packaged and tried to give it some sense of legitimately that it deserved the first time around. Of course, all tracks are re-mastered and the bass kicks some serious ass now. The beautiful booklet contains band photos, complete lyrics including those excluded from the original Thrash Ranch release as mentioned above, as well a band history essay. And perhaps the best inclusion of all is the originally proposed cover for Thrash Ranch that Grudge Records turned down back into in 1990. The usage of this cover of the four skeleton cowboys is certainly an upgrade, although the booklet should have featured that originally used cover piece since it is a reissue and telling the history of the release. This seems unlike H&H to include something as such that would be part of the story of an album.

Nonetheless, this is still a nice reissue and the quality we expect from one of the best reissue labels currently on the scene. Fans of bands like Nuclear Assault, Sacred Reich and D.R.I. you will totally dig this one. And collectors of thrash’s history this piece is worth having even if you own the original.

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Tags:  ReviewJersey Dogs...ReissueThrashJersey Dogs 

    July 10, 2018

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