Headhunter
Parasite of Society

The thrash reunions continue. This time German band Headhunter, featuring vocalist/bassist Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer of Destruction, guitarist Uwe “Schmuddel” Hoffmann from Talon and drummer Jorg Michael, who has played with Saxon, Stratovarius and Grave Digger, among a long string of others.While I missed this band’s work in the early 1990s, I’m intrigued by what I hear here. Though billed as thrash, Headhunter is more of a power metal act with some thrash leanings. Beyond a few songs, most of the rest of the record is far more of a power or traditional metal sound, starting with the soaring gang vocal chorus of “Silverskull.”

The songs here are a mixed bag. There are some notable misses, like the droning “Remission” and (I wish I were kidding) their cover of Skid Row’s “18 and Life.” Headhunter’s version sounds like they wanted to take it in a heavier direction, then changed their mind midway and settled somewhere in the middle, and Schmier’s half-sing/half-scream vocals are really annoying. Rather than being a faithful cover or a pumped up new version, it sounds a bit like garage band karaoke.

They make up for it with the opening groove of “Backs to the Wall,” which for me is the strongest moment on the record. The lyrics are a bit cliché, but I love that riff from Hoffmann. The sitar opening of “Egomaniac” is another nice touch before it launches into one of the few true thrash tunes on the record, joining the title track and “Doomsday to the Prayer.”

The biggest drawback of this album is often Schmier’s vocals. Here he tries to sing more than in Destruction, and he really tries too hard, as you can see on the last two tracks on the record, “The Calling” and “Payback Time.” The high notes on that last song are almost painful. There’s also a cover of Judas Priest’s “Rapid Fire” tacked on to the commercial copy, which, surprisingly, I would have liked to hear despite Schmier’s vocal struggles.

All in all, Parasite of Society isn’t a bad record. It definitely won’t make any year-end lists or be hailed for its innovation, but it’s an enjoyable listen while it’s in your CD player.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
June 27th, 2008

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