Once upon a time in Columbus, Ohio, two boys by the name of Mike Conte and Adam Bennati, respectively, were raised by strict Pentecostal families and were forbade from music and pop culture as a whole. It wasn’t until they were 19 where they discovered such great metal acts like Mercyful Fate, Celtic Frost, Minor Threat (although Minor Threat is actually the Godfather of hardcore), Venom and so forth. Having been shunned by their friends and family, the boys headed out for New York City and with Conte on guitar and vocals alongside Bennati on drums, Early Man was born.
On their spellbinding debut Closing In, Early Man makes metal the way it sounded when you first discovered it. From the opener of “Four Walls,” the precipitating riffs come kicking you in the ass alongside Conte`s blaring wails, making for a state of thrash metal bliss. “War Eagle” is reminiscent of Screaming for Vengeance era Judas Priest while the murky “Death is the Answer” brings back the good ol’ Sabbath days when Ozzy (and his voice) were in their prime, long before he was belittled by agreeing to doing a reality show with his two OxyContin loving offspring.
Closing In gets thrown into a somewhat Southern-fried barroom boogie mode on “Thrill of the Kill” as “Fist Shaker” is rife with Benatti’s rumbling beats, which make one wonder when Bruce Dickinson is going to start wailing. “Brain Sick” is something which seems like it came from metal’s embryonic days, and will give your dad flashbacks of a moment from 1971 when he was washing down some Quaaludes with a can of Shafer beer in the parking lot after a Uriah Heep concert.
The best thing about Early Man is not just how they sound but what their music evokes. For me it proves that for some reason metal sounded better when I in grades 5-8 when I first got into it because some of my close friends had cool older siblings who warped my mind with the music. Closing In makes me feel like I’m twelve years old all over again, with my antisocial attitude and a chain wallet. Metal was still so new and fresh to me then, as its vibe was infused into my blood and made me rebel against everything while I pissed off the entire staff of my entire school just for the sake of shock value. Closing In isn’t just metal that Beavis and Butthead would throw their devil horns up to. It’s more like a nostalgic trip back to my middle school days when I was experimenting with the suburban ritual of smoking grass down by the railroad tracks on Indianola Ave. while my portable boom box was blaring cassette tapes by Exodus. I may only be in my early twenties but Early Man must be praised for making me feel young again.
Metallica – Kill Em All
Annihilator – Never, Neverland
Megadeth – Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying