Zoetrope - A Life of Crime LP
If Amnesty would serve as a Great Train Robbery for Illinois’ Zoetrope, then A Life of Crime was their Godfather, their Goodfellas, their Untouchables, and perhaps the ultimate street metal album of the Midwest in the 80s. That doesn’t mean it was perfect, just a lot better than other bands of the time and place performing with the urban aesthetic, and a leg up on the debut album. There is a bit more hardcore influence on this effort, and it’s all around heavier than Amnesty, even in the vocals and drums of Barry Stern. There was a single line-up change, as Louie Svitek (Lost Cause, M.O.D., Mindfunk) replaced Ken Black on the second guitar, but otherwise the core remains the same. A Life Of Crime features some truly awesome songwriting, and then a few filler pieces between, which don’t really disappoint, but don’t blow me away either. “Seeking Asylum” is so good that I’m surprised it did not gain the band a greater recognition outside the Midwest thrash scene and radio underground, especially with a Combat Records deal in place. But, I suppose sacrifices had to be made in order to afford Anthrax and Metallica concert t-shirts, so Zoetrope never made the splash it could have. At any rate, this is their finest hour, so if you’re checking the band out for the first time, begin here. It’s a great album for caving someone’s skull in with a pair of brass knuckles.