Review: Die Theory, Ice Cream Headache (Heavy & Fast, 2023)

I became aware a year or so ago that some reissues from obscure, short-lived (1989 - 1992) Rhode Island thrash act Die Theory were in the works, but then forgot about 'em until the news recently surfaced on a friend's Instagram feed. The primary focus of the campaign finds the quartet's 1991 Ice Cream Headache demo reissued as a one-sided 12", totalling four songs in about 17 minutes—recorded at Normandy Sound with the mighty Jamie Locke—of crossover-tinged thrash that's neither too speed-centric nor too chunky.

Their approach is intriguingly hectic (but not chaotic), with a unique crunch to the guitar tone, and an interesting mix that lands guitars a little toward left and bass a little toward right for a balanced sound that doesn't emphasize stacked guitars the way many releases of the era would have—there are no rhythm guitars during the solos, etc. This, of course, allows the solidly roving bass runs to shine through, which is always a plus. I'd also point out that while there is a "fun" sensibility in place, for the most part the tone is more serious than the "ice cream" aspect might imply.

Great layout, too: simple but striking black-and-white sleeve; plus a full-color, four-panel 12" × 12" insert loaded with old photos, flyers, and lyrics (which—again—are more serious than you'd expect). The back half is then jam-packed with an awesome interview with the band conducted about a year ago, covering everything from their high school origins to most of the lineup carrying on as Furnace after Die Theory fell apart. An awesome touch, which I always appreciate as a detail that makes these types of reissues more special.

I'm assuming Die Theory's 1990 demo was not included herein because of its longer running time (seven songs, 28 minutes), but the great news is that both demos have also been reissued on cassette—limited to a mere 50 copies apiece—which seem to replicate the original J-card layouts in terms of art, lyrics, credits, even the old school thanks lists and everything! Very cool.

The vinyl is limited to around just 225 copies as either a standard variant or the hand-numbered special edition, which includes some bonus goodies. As a reissue fanatic, it's cool to see another label dipping its toes into the water with admirable attention to detail and really doing it right, so I'll be curious to see what comes next from Heavy & Fast...

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