REACTOR – The Real World(2009)
Digging around in boxes of cassettes from years gone by often yields pleasing surprises. Tapes that were considered gems that you thought you’d never hear again, get to be listened to and reevaluated through a cloud of nostalgia. If you have a record label, the thought of releasing material from forgotten days is entertained. Shadow Kingdom Records have turned those thoughts into reality by releasing material from 1983-1990 by Maryland metal band Reactor.
As to be expected with members, who were in Pentagram at some point , there are touches of Sabbath, pushing through at full strength in “War Machine” due to Ozzy vocals and a heavy underbelly of destroying riffs. It’s not difficult to gage the punkish “Meltdown” fitting into the time period of the first wave of American thrash metal. The chosen subject matter is also telling with the band’s social conscience coming to the fore covering terrorism, the arms race and corporations taking over work lives. These guys were probably coincidentally spinning the exact same NWOBHM records in synchronized time with Metallica. “The Terrorist” slows pace and concentrates more on melody using a very stripped bare to the bone structure. “The Real World” is that terrible Mister Mister song, “Broken Wing” on metallic based steroids and proves that mullets and leg warmers weren’t the only things better left in the 80’s. Proving that they were en route to suckdom, they went on to use the tepid song title as a band name.
It’s difficult to take in the tinny sound of “Greenhouse” and not think demo band and really as these are old unearthed recordings that’s exactly what Reactor were. I imagine Reactor were a big local drawcard but struggled to get audience numbers when they left town. The inclusion of eight live tracks ensures that the disc isn’t just a six track EP but the CD booklet really elevates the recording from demo status and is impressive as a looker and informative with liner notes, lyrics and band photos. Despite the packaging, this is still more one for the metal historians and archeologists than the run of the mill metal fan who will listen to this then shuffle it towards the back of the collection.