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Trauma - Scratch and Scream Review

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Trauma - Scratch and Scream

Trauma - Scratch and Scream

Most metal fans associate bassist Cliff Burton with Metallica, where he spent several years helping gain notoriety and respect for the West Coast thrashers. Unless you’re an obsessed fan of the band, you may not realize that Burton was not just the head-banging, finger-plucking madman for Metallica. Before his time with the group, he rotated between several bands, one of which was Trauma.

Burton started out with Trauma after stints with Agents of Misfortune and EZ-Street. He played on a few Trauma demos around 1982 or so, but left before the band released their debut album Scratch and Scream. Though it doesn’t match up to anything Metallica ever wrote, Scratch and Scream is an uproarious metal record that dabbles in heavy/speed metal.

Thanks to YouTube, Scratch and Scream lives on. Long out of print and a challenge to search for through the usual seedy channels, the popular video streaming site is the easiest way to find it. That means the only way to get the full experience out of Scratch and Scream is from either having a dozen tabs open at once on your browser, or go from song to song. Both methods are not desirable, but they are there for those adventurous enough to seek the album out.

If time is an issue, or you just don’t have the patience to follow the steps in the previous paragraph, “The Day All Hell Broke Loose” is where that precious few minutes of one’s day should be spent. A speed metal delight, this track is about as close to perfection as the band gets. It’s a tad sloppy, yet retains its composure with a collection of flashy guitar solos and deliciously over-the-top vocals. It’s such a great track that the band is not able to top it.

That isn’t to say that a listener would be drowning in filler with the rest of the songs. The band seems content to hover around Judas Priest/NWOBHM-inspired tempos, keeping the unrestricted speed contained to “The Warlock” and “Lay Low.” “We Are Watching You” screams “Remember me!” with its tuneful gang chants shouting the name of the song title ad nauseum.

The last third of the album tries to branch out with lengthier compositions, which toy with melodic elements missing from the other material. Trauma takes a step away from their steady metal attack with the clean guitars on “In The End”; well, at least for the first minute or so, before the band gets back into their standard mode. “The Flight of the Raven” has vocalist Donny Hillier tone down his occasionally goofy screech for a Bruce Dickinson-esque performance.

Trauma deserves more than being a footnote for a former member of a legendary thrash band. They didn’t make much of an impression during their brief foray together, breaking up soon after the release of Scratch and Scream. Watching older videos of the band, when they still had Burton in its ranks, makes one wonder what could have been if he would have stayed around (the same could be theorized about Jason Newsted and Flotsam and Jetsam).

Scratch and Scream is a competent, occasionally exhilarating listen that should be discovered again by a wide audience. It’s a tough album to find a copy of, but it doesn’t hurt to use YouTube to get acquainted with a solid record. For Trauma attempting to stamp out its own path, especially after losing the talented Burton, Scratch and Scream gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation.

Trauma live featuring Cliff Burton 1982 Video

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