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3.61 | 10 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1994

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Distortion (5:58)
2. Hypnotized by the Rhythm (4:56)
3. Rape (5:22)
4. No Reason (6:27)
5. Feed the Hand (6:37)
6. Wake Up! (4:08)
7. Mind's "I" (4:20)
8. All That Is (4:15)
9. Under Taker (6:23)
10. 21st Century Schizoid Man (10:33)

Total Time: 59:02


- Russ Anderson / Vocals
- Steve Jacobs / Drums
- Matt Camacho / Bass
- Tim Calvert / Guitars
- Craig Locicero / Guitars

About this release

GUN Records, November 30th, 1994

There is a 2:10 long hidden track at the end of the album.

Digipack bonus track:
11. Rip Ride (Venom cover) [3:06]

The Japanese edition (BVCP-765) features a hidden track, Annexanax.

4 different album covers exist.

A video was made for "No Reason".

Release on vinyl by Night of the Vinyl Dead Records in September 2011 limited edition vinyl + free 7 inches. Hand numbered 500 copies
Cat # NIGHT0107

Recorded at Music Annex, Menlo Park, California, USA.
Produced by Patrick Coughlin and Forbidden.

Thanks to UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Distortion" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US, California based thrash metal act Forbidden. The album was released through GUN Records in November 1994, almost five years after the release of "Twisted Into Form (1990)". A release frequency which was a bit longer than usual for the time. A couple of circumstances prevented an earlier release though. First of all drummer Paul Bostaph left Forbidden to join Slayer. He is replaced here by Steve Jacobs. Secondly the musical climate changed dramatically between the release of "Twisted Into Form (1990)" and "Distortion", and Forbidden found themselves searching for a label to release the album, and that was a longer process than anticipated. Forbidden shared the fate of many 80s thrash metal acts, who had created a solid reputation in the 80s, only to be forgotten soon in the early 90s, when other music styles "stole" their audience.

They did what they could to adapt to the new musical climate of the times, as "Distortion" is not a "straight" thrash metal release by any means. It´s heavy, dark, groove laden, and aggressive, and generally features very few fast-paced thrash metal rhythms or riffs. The musicianship is still on a very high level and sharp heavy groove metal riffs and rhythms are delivered with great conviction. Lead vocalist Russ Anderson generally sings a bit more rough and less "theatrical" than he did on the predecessors, but it´s still audible that he is a very skilled vocalist with a strong set of pipes.

"Distortion" also features a well sounding production job, so all prerequisites are there for the album to be a success. Unfortunately the songwriting isn´t that inspired and not many tracks stand out as particularly memorable (and closing the album with a pretty standard quality cover version of "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson, doesn´t make the album any more interesting). It´s like all the great features of the two predecessors have been left behind in search of a contemporary sound which could reach a new audience, but the material simply aren´t strong enough for that. If you meassure "Distortion" against contemporary releases by artists like Machine Head and Pantera, there´s just no competition. In that context it´s a forgettable and quite mediocre release. They should probably instead have stuck to their guns and attempted to ride out the thrash metal hostile 90s with their heads held high, because "Distortion" neither gave them critical acclaim nor commercial success. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.
Forbidden’s third full length studio album Distortion was a departure of sorts for the Bay Area Thrash Metal band, as it saw the band simultaneously move to a harsh mid-tempo groove metal style and also further experiment with progressive attitudes, sudden and bizarre changes and unconventional song structuring. Don’t buy this if you want a Thrash album however, don’t even buy it if you like Forbidden’s previous two thrash albums and think there might be enough Thrash on it to sustain you, there really isn’t.

If you like albums like Machine Head’s Burn My Eyes, Sepultura’s Chaos AD and Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven, there is a better chance that Forbidden’s 1994 album Distortion may be suited to your tastes. It shares a common musical ideal with those sorts of albums, a reaction of sorts to the Thrash Metal speed race that resulted in long and dark songs with slower, deeper and what could be described as “more bludgeoning” riff styles.

With virtuosity saved primarily for the solos, the individual sections are based more on long hanging chords, pinch harmonics and down-tuned riffs; with occasional atmospheric sections, spoken word moments and even the odd acoustic guitar here and there.

The absolute highlight on the album is ‘Hypnotized By The Rhythm,’ which is a quite frankly brilliant track that covers so much ground in its under-five-minute duration and works up both a little speed as well as the groove elements and even an eastern tinged section.

If all the tracks on the album were this good, Distortion would not only be the band’s best album, but one of the finest metal albums of the 1990s. Unfortunately however; while it is a good album, the record isn’t able to live up to that incredibly high standard. The biggest problem is that tracks can go on for too long with too few ideas per track, too much repetition, and no speed to break up and therefore make you appreciate the crushing groove. The tracks are good but they aren’t succinct.

Individually, any of the big monolithic tracks on Distortion, especially ‘Rape,’ ‘Feed The Hand’ or ‘Undertaker’ work well on their own when listened to separately and would make brilliant album closers on a thrash album, seeming grand and impressive next to speedy technical numbers. When sat side by side with other big monolithic tracks.

This problem aside, and of course if you ignore or are unconcerned about the fact that it isn’t pure 1980s Thrash Metal, then Distortion is a good metal album that can be very entertaining should you come at it with an open mind, an album on which there are a lot of good riffs, cool ideas and good individual songs. The band deliver both musically and vocally and the album is well produced. Repeat listens are rewarding and although you may be disappointed if you came in expecting a thrash album, if you just want a good metal album in general, then Distortion provides.

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