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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Dublin Death Patrol

DDP 4 Life

Review by Mike Korn

Ah, the joys of small town living - a relaxed pace, the comfort of knowing all your friends and neighbors, a closeness to the land...and raging thrash metal? Well, if you happened to live in Dublin, California (not to be confused with the rather more notorious Dublin, Ireland...though you will find pictures of shamrocks and leprechauns in this album) back in the 80's, heavy metal was definitely part of the town's fabric. So numerous and close-knit were the town's youthful metalheads that the "Dublin Death Patrol" was formed...a brotherhood of thrash and high spirits, "bonded by blood,” in the words of one famous local metal band.

Unlike many adolescent dreams, the idea of the Dublin Death Patrol stayed alive with all the members as they moved throughout their lives. Some of them went on to live their metal dreams to the fullest. Singer Chuck Billy went on to front the legendary Testament while Zetro Sousa gained fame as the acid-lunged screamer for Exodus, one of the founding bands of the entire Bay Area thrash movement. Willy Lange played bass for the cult Frisco metal band Laaz Rockit. The others all drifted into other pursuits, though they all kept their metal roots alive.

In 2007, the Dublin Death Patrol is on the prowl again! DDP 4 Life is a fun, simple album full of aggressive metal tunes with a lot of variety. The production is excellent and the vocal pairing of Billy and Zetro is inspired, resulting in a kind of "dream team" for thrash fans. Others involved with DDP include Chuck Billy's brothers Andy and Eric, drummer Troy Lucketta of Tesla, Phil Demmel of Machine Head, Steve Robello, Greg Bustamante, John Hartsinck and more. You see, the DDP is more like a clan or a gang than an actual band. Anybody who was in Dublin back in the day who hasn't given up on metal can play a part! DDP 4 Life is proof positive that you can go back again. Not only can you go back but you can bring anybody who still likes to throw the horns and bang the head with you. Grab this one and raise a brew to the old days!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
R.I.P.
The sound of skipping vinyl is your first indication that this will be a trip back in time. The opening cut is a great ripping tune with plenty of lead guitar soloing. The combination of Billy's deep bellowing voice and Zetro's sneering nasal tones is perfect and both the guys are at their best. In fact, I'd say that Zetro tends to dominate the album a bit more than Billy, which I never would have believed before getting this disc.
Unnatural Causes
Punchy, catchy thrash in pure Bay Area tradition is what you will get here, with an absolute killer chorus. This is the sort of stuff that made bands like Exodus, Testament and Metallica (yes, back when they were really good) popular.
Mentally Unstable
This driving track is one of the heaviest on the record. It’s not necessarily the fastest, but it just has a thickness to the riffing. Andy Billy's lead guitar work is really sharp. He never achieved the fame of big brother Chuck, but this record proves Chuck is not the only member of the Billy family with musical talent. There's a kind of semi-classical guitar shredder feel to his soloing on this cut. The hypnotic mid-paced end riff will have 'em banging their heads for sure live.
Pigs in the Hollow
This is more of a slower paced, stalking cruncher that creeps along like a sniper preparing for attack. Not a thrash tune in the traditional sense, this is just a crushing metal excursion. I can't get a lock on the lyrics...can't tell if they support the Iraq war or condemn it, but I'd find it hard to believe either Zetro or Billy supporting the government given their past lyrical stances.


DDP 4 Life
Billy's vocals are as guttural and death metal-ish as I've ever heard them in the beginning of this track...he isn't mellowing out at all! The tune itself is super catchy staccato riffing that relays the band's feelings for their hometown scene: "No matter where I live / For the rest of my life / It lives inside of me / I'll always be DDP for life...for life!" There's a killer speed up and thrash out at the end of the cut.
Sid Vicious
This has got to be my favorite of the band's originals. DDP's knack for writing simple hooks that sink deep inside your brain reaches its apex here. I just can't get this out of my head! I wouldn't describe it as thrash metal, it actually has more of the feeling of the old British metal from the NWOBHM. Zetro is awesome on the vocals and every bit as good as he was with Exodus. "Sid Vicious lives...takes what he gives / Sid Vicious lives!" - pure head-banging ecstasy!
Iron Fist
A generous number of cover versions are included here to show the kind of songs DDP was into back in the day. Here's their version of the Motorhead classic, one of my favorite tunes from that band. I wouldn't say this equals the original (what could?) but it has all the drive of its inspiration and Billy's vocals in particular really fit the song well.
Cold Sweat
This is one of Thin Lizzy's heaviest tunes and it gets a great workout here. The riffing is tough and muscular - so classic. This one I really do think measures up to the original and it kind of helps to remind you that Lizzy was a criminally underrated band.
Lights Out
One of the signature tunes of UFO, this is also given a very cool overhaul. The unforgettable chorus is changed to "Lights Out, Lights Out in Dublin" instead of the traditional "Lights Out in London.” This is a track where Zetro really shines on vocals and the lead guitar work is exceptional.
Trail of the Executioner
I think this must be from the pre-Testament band Legacy or the even older Rampage. I don't recognize it, but man, it really flattens everything in sight. This tune reeks of old-school heaviness like you just don't hear anymore! The vocal trade-offs are killer and Machine Head's Phil Demmel gets to crank out a ripping solo. It’s fist-pumping fury all the way!
Devil in Disguise
The pace drops quite a bit for this mysterious sounding semi-ballad. This has to be an old Legacy track, it sounds like it could have come off the first Testament album. This is a number where Billy dominates on vocals, showing his more melodic side. There's also some tremendous bluesy guitar soloing. The piece does get heavy and fast, but retains its cryptic feeling.
Corruption
This is the last "metal" song on the disc, opening with some of the Indian chants we will hear later. It's not a bad cut but I would have ended with the superior "Trail of the Executioner.” It's very deliberately paced and crunchy, kind of like the slower Exodus stuff. It is not a remake of the Exodus tune of the same name. It’s an OK song but certainly not one of the album standouts.
Central Pomo Indian Songs
Dublin is near the reservation of the Pomo Indian tribe and in fact, Chuck Billy and his brothers are all Pomos. This seven minute excerpt of authentic Pomo Indian chants is included as a tip to their heritage but frankly, it goes on a bit too long and would seem to be of more interest to anthropologists than head-bangers.
 
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