Forbidden Omega Wave

If only the Big Four were extended to the Big Eight, Forbidden would be more than an underappreciated late '80s thrash curio. But the overly ambitious songwriting and the grating vocals put these guys, who reformed in 2007, pretty low on thrash's first tier, or really high on the second. To answer the question that's on everyone's mind, no, Paul Bostaph doesn't play drums on this album, which is the band's fifth (and first since reuniting). So, that sucks, sure, but check out the opening riff to first song proper, "Forsaken at the Gates"; it's thrash hysteria at its finest. And ex-Vio-lence drummer Mark Hernandez does a damn solid job behind the kit; really, the whole album ― the whole band ― is rock solid. Get a load of 2:01 to 2:12 of "Overthrow," where always-on vocalist Russ Anderson does his insane wailing thing while the guitarists alternate from left to right speakers, a true thrash mind bender. Elsewhere, "Hopenosis" is as perfect a mid-tempo thrash song as they come. Add in guest slots from Testament's Chuck Billy and ex-Exodus wailer Steve "Zetro" Souza, and this is one fun, enjoyable disc that, while not exactly The Formation of Damnation, isn't exactly St. Anger either. It's a shame about that cover art and album title though. (Nuclear Blast)