Razor is a member of a very exclusive club; they are among a rare breed of bands who did not bottom out and suck more than a Hoover after having spent a number of years in the game. The league of legendary thrash metal bands, especially, seemed to have been contractually obliged to be agonizingly unlistenable by album number seven or so, but Razor proved to still be riding high on quality once "Open Hostility" found its way in the world. The 1991 offering holds a special place in my heart, as it was my first exposure to the world of Razor, but I'm also quite fond of it because the undisputed glory of the band remains solidified in the psychosis of awesome thrash, hard as a f***ing rock.
No games are played here. What "Open Hostility" embodies is a riot of thrash, swarming the auditory space in an all-out assault. Running on the same fuel for eight years at this point, Razor has not one moment here that isn't whiplashed in the album's whirlwind of blazing riffs. "In Protest" and the grooves of "Sucker for Punishment" set up Razor's tricks, which aren't plentiful, but the lack of variety isn't a problem. The onslaught of tremendous riffs pouring out of every orifice like an Ebola infestation is what makes "Open Hostility" a beast. Almost every guitar bit exemplifies the magic of thrash done right, cooked to kill and prone to pandemonium. The drums are programmed, often doing the same fast pattern, but the sense of a major instrument having been synthesized is nullified by a production that is otherwise organic and bloody. They sound fine to me.
"Open Hostility" also features what is my favorite performance from Bob Reid, whose acid-spewing vocals are just a giant ball of belligerence and gusto. His aggressive shouts rival the intensity of the music, and he sounds awesome adding twinges of sarcasm in "Mental Torture" and taking on the tongue-in-cheek drawbacks of social drinking on "Bad Vibrations." No shortage of oomph appears from Reid's politically-charged diatribes ripping into society; it's rare to find a record where the lyrical surrounding actually adds to the experience. The anti-censorship spine of "In Protest" is musically and lyrically my favorite, the bulldozing riff at the start of the song making it probably the most likeable one on "Open Hostility." That sequence, folks, knows how to get the blood pumping.
A portion of the nut-crushing awesomeness dwindles once "Open Hostility" reaches the areas surrounding its midpoint. "Free Lunch," "Road Gunner," and "Psychopath" stick identically to Razor's constant flogging, but the riffs aren't as hooking, making the tracks a little less memorable. Calling them offensive is just downright wrong, however, as these tunes and the rest of "Open Hostility" prove Razor could have its way with the contemporary works of Exodus, Slayer, and other legendary thrash bands who couldn't write a decent album late in the game to save their skins. Razor, on the other hand, released excellent record after excellent record without a glitch. Their last effort, "Decibels," was fine, but "Open Hostility" marks the last piece of stellar thrash from this group that is absolutely mandatory.