Re-recording classic albums is a risky endeavor. Let’s keep financial considerations out of the conversation. The plus side is that groups get to atone for what was often somewhat shoddy 1980s recording technology. The downside? Risking the attempt to recapture the inherent energy that comes with being young and hungry. In thrash/power metal there’s additional worry: who can still sing in the vocal range they did in their teens or 20s? Hardly anyone is the fair answer.

No Place for Disgrace holds a pretty special place in thrash/power metal history. It was recorded after bassist Jason Newsted joined Metallica and proved emphatically that this Arizona quintet was among the metal underground’s elite. Listening back nearly 30 years later, the songs are still obviously strong and, to these ears at least, the production doesn’t sound that bad when compared to other discs of the era.

With all that said, No Place for Disgrace 2014 doesn’t resonate wrong. Actually, it comes across as really organic and natural. We’ve got to credit a lot of that to Flots still boasting four of the five guys that played on the original.

Here’s what the will re-recording will remind you:
No Place for Disgrace was pretty great at the time of its original recording. It remains so in hindsight. The title track is epic. “Escape from Within” is the type of slow-boil ballad that remains an overlooked facet of so many speed and power metal bands. When they slowed things down, the songwriting and musicianship still shined. Flots’ cover of Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting)” was a curious but inspired choice. The goal is/was to take an original and make it your own without losing the basic core of a core. This was among the best of the era. If only the left the power chord punch of the intro alone. “I Live You Die” is pure power. This tune should be in the thrash encyclopedia by now.

So, what’s different? Singer Eric AK wisely lowers his range to fit his age. He’s still a force of a nature. The guitar team of Edward Carlson and Michael Gilbert has grown stronger; the two six-stringers never went for the in-your-face histrionics (some might say musical masturbation) of the era, instead opting for piles of sinuous riffs. Their dual melodic runs here are impressive.

Without even hearing the 2014, it was obvious “Hard On You” would be the elephant in the room. It was an absolute — and expletive-filled — classic. But thematically, it was about the Parents Resource Music Center and censorship, topics not only out of place but perhaps silly in today’s environment. F&J play it smart, somewhat, turning the anger on intellectual piracy instead of artistic suppression. The song still stands out but I’m not sure the new lyrics are as convincing.

In sum No Place for Disgrace 2014 probably didn’t need to be made. But it’s the rare re-recordings where longtime fans won’t mind that it was. If nothing else, it’s an example of yet another classic era band still at the top of its game.

Label: Metal Blade