Dissonance Productions – Atrophy / Exhorder / Carnivore / Gruntruck: Album Round Up

Dissonance Productions is one arm of the great Cherry Red Records. Dissonance primarily deal in reissues of classic ‘lost’ heavy metal albums. Whilst reissues are a big part of the label, there is also new material being released through the label too.

Here, we round up a few of the more recent releases on the label.


Before Type O Negative, Peter Steele was a part of cult NYC heavy metal band Carnivore who formed in 1983. The self titled debut was originally released in 1985, with the band releasing their second and final album in 1987. Carnivore reformed several times over the years up to 2010 when Peter Steele sadly died. Now, the band tour and play as Carnivore AD; paying tribute to Steele’s legacy through the music of Carnivore.

This release is an updated and remastered re-issue of Carnivore’s seminal self-titled debut. The package comes with extensive liner notes and contributions from the band; it is a brilliant read and like many of the releases that Cherry Red are involved with, is clearly put together lovingly by people who really care. Mark Freebase writes the liner notes and contained within is a rare interview with the band’s sole surviving member, drummer Louis Beato. Lyircs are also included, as well as a vast array of original posters and pictures from the time.

Carnivore is a visceral tour-de-force of an album. The title track is a fierce beast and in amongst Steele’s vocals and less than subtle female ‘moaning,’ is some quite brutal thrashy metal and stunning solo work. Male Supremacy reeks of 80’s metal in its make up, but it is really hard not to wreck your neck to it.

World Wars III and IV closes out the original album and in epic fashion. At a notch over ten minutes long, the song gestates into a standard heavy metal track before mutating into a nuclear blast of swirling winds and distant music. It sows the seeds for Steele went on to create with Type O Negative.

Also contained on the re-issue are three bonus tracks in the form of 1986’s ‘USA For USA’ demo. S.M.D. and Sex & Violence that round out the disc are pure, aggressive, anarchic punk. It really gets the pulse pounding and showcases a band of their time and works as a piece of musical history showing a band at their most confrontational.


As heavy metal evolved over the 80’s into the global phenomenon it was, there were many bands wanting to make a change. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica were ruling the roost with the latter going on to sell millions and millions of records with their self titled ‘Black’ album in 1991. What the 90’s gave rise to was more sub genres of metal such as groove metal, the infamous Norwegian black metal scene, and the harnessing of the power of more extreme bands like Slayer.

The original Exhorder covers.

Exhorder were bracketed with Pantera in the groove metal genre but there is a lot more to this band. On their debut, 1990’s Slaughter In The Vatican, the band merged the blast beat double kick drum sound associated with death metal with something you would consider more of a groove style. Just listen to Homicide on Slaughter…it is furious, groove laden and belligerent in equal measure. The drumming is phenomenal and the shred of the guitars is razor sharp. Desecrator moves things into more doomy territory in its introduction before whipping up into a furious thrashy frenzy. Again, the death metal stylings poke through. It is an unholy mix that is still exciting. On the title track of the album, the band open it with prayers from the Catholic mass…a little like something you would expect from Ghost these days.

1992 saw the band release The Law; another vital slice of heavy metal. The groove aspect of the aforementioned genre is more prominent here, and there is less of the death metal stylings of Slaughter. This is no less furious though. The Truth sees one of Kyle Thomas’ best vocal performances across the two albums. He is sinister and menacing and combines the styles of Joey Belladonna (Anthrax) and Phil Anselmo (Pantera). The title track of the album contains plenty of diversions in acoustic interludes and wailing solos. There is also a cover of Black Sabbath’s Into The Void.

Reissue cover

As you’d expect from Cherry Red/Dissonance, the package is superb. A 2 disc digipack contains extensive liner notes on both of these seminal albums as well as pictures and notes from the time. As far as the history of heavy metal goes, this is a major reference point. The band are still writing and recording and are holing to release their fourth album in the future.


Atrophy are a cult thrash band from Tuscon, Arizona. Contemporaries of bands like Testament, Vio-lence and Sacred Reich, the band reformed in 2015 with an eye on writing and recording a third record (which will be released on Massacre Records). Cherry Red/Dissonance have collated their first two albums in this brilliant re-issue which has all the hallmarks of the previously mentioned releases here. Plenty of pictures and liner notes make for fascinating reading whilst listening, if you are that way inclined. There is also an interview with vocalist Brian Zimmerman especially for the release.

Reissue cover

Socialized Hate was originally released in 1988 through Roadrunner Records. It was produced by Bill Metoyer, who produced much of the early Slayer discography before working with many other bands including W.A.S.P. , Corrosion Of Conformity and Cattle Decapitation to name but a few.

Chemical Dependency opens the record in breakneck fashion. The vocals drip in blood and the riffs cut like razors. In contrast, the title track has more of a serene opening with an acoustic led intro and solo before the juggernaut of guitars kicks off. As the song kicks on, the bass guitar helps drive the song in grand fashion. It clatters around in the mix adding an extra level of aggression.

In the titles of the tracks, you can see where Atrophy’s themes lie; Killing Machine, Rest In Pieces, Urban Decay, Matter Of Attitude. All these titles sum up the band here. You can imagine the sound that shines through. Utterly uncompromising and devilishly dark.

The original Atrophy covers.

Violent By Nature was released in 1990 and was once again produced by Bill Metoyer. Puppies and Friends opens the album and feels a little tongue in cheek in the title. What isn’t relenting is the sound. The title track hits hard and truculent. Call and response vocals feel punky and vicious. The song is very catchy and full of great moments; it sets the precedent for the album.

On their second effort, the band seem more assured and confident in what they want to achieve. Whilst having the same producer at the helm, the band seem to be realising their own vision that little bit more. Too Late To Change sees the band slow the pace a little with another acoustic heavy intro that leads to a more brooding piece. Whilst a little slower in pace, it does not let up in its intensity. Slipped Through The Cracks contains one of the best guitar solos you will ever hear. It dances around the rhythm in blistering fashion and begs repeated listens. It is really great to hear these songs given the love and dedication in re-issue.


Gruntruck was founded in 1989 in Seattle, formed by Ben McMillan and Norman Scott from the ashes of the revered Skin Yard, pairing with guitarist Tommy Niemeyer formerly of Thrash band The Accused, and bassist Tim Paul from Hardcore act Final Warning.

Released in 1992, Push is widely considered the great lost Grunge-era classic, acclaimed by fellow acts like Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam. Gruntruck toured with Alice In Chains for their classic ‘Dirt’ album, and with Pantera on the ‘Vulgar Display Of Power’ tour.

This newly remastered updated re-issue of Gruntruck’s second full length album comes with extensive liner notes and fresh contributions from the band. There is also contribution from legendary producer Jack Endino.

To be amongst the company of Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains says a lot. Those bands went on to humungous fame and released a string of widely acclaimed and successful records. There are always bands like Gruntruck who help pave the way though. Their influence can be heard throughout. Racked contains a hint of a vocal refrain that evokes Black Stone Cherry’s Blame It On The Boom Boom. It would be no surprise to see BSC list this as an influence.

Originally, there were three tracks lifted from the album as singles. The opener, Tribe, as well as the trippy Crazy Love and Above Me. All still sound absolutely huge and add more credence to the fact that in 1992, Push was listed at number 18 in Kerrang’s albums of the year round up. Alice In Chains hit number 1 in that round up with Dirt.

Push comes with three bonus tracks. Crucifunkin’ is a brilliant piece of grunge rock with swirling guitars and some vociferous solo work. The second of the added tracks is Flesh Fever; a powerhouse of a song that is driven by some high quality drumming and more sinister riffing.

Take a listen to Tribe by Gruntruck.

Just four of Dissonance’s releases are highlighted here, but there is so much to go at. The stoner, blues rock of Orange Goblin, the tradition NWOBHM sounds of Tokyo Blade or the revolutionary Lawnmower Deth have all recently released records through Dissonance. It is an exciting label with plenty of scope for more and more releases. Xentrix, Toxik, Whiplash and Goat Horn have all seen recent releases with forthcoming sets from Vicious Rumours and Solitude Aeturnus on the horizon.

Dissonance PRODUCTIONS: Website

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