domingo, 16 de novembro de 2014

DEMON PACT (UK) - Released from Hell (CD, High Roller, 2012)


Demon Pact came and went very quickly at the height of the NWOBHM boom: took part in a local-band compilation ("Kent Rocks", 1981), released a 7'' single (also in 1981, coupling the tasteful ode to cannibalism "Eaten Alive" with the slightly less tongue-in-cheek "Raiders") and promptly disappeared without a trace. Their very intense (and somewhat politically incorrect) music, carried along by extremely rude vocals, captured the imagination of those who enjoyed more blasphemous branches of Heavy music - and the front cover of their sole vinyl offering, depicting a scantly-clothed she-devil with huge bat-like wings, surely helped matters. It took over three decades for the world to hear all that Demon Pact had to offer - but the good old High Roller would not let us down for long, and now we have "Released from Hell", on both CD and vinyl, to show what the fuss was all about.

The instrumentation is competent enough, but don't expect any showcases of dexterity: they keep it (mostly) tight and (always) simple, their raw interpretation of the NWOBHM ethos sounding like a slightly less frantic and more riff-oriented version of Venom. I always considered Donald Meckiffe to be a fundamental part of Demon Pact's appeal: his rasp, kinda sloppy (and hardly in-tune) vocal delivery may sound a bit too jarring for some ears, but definitely adds an element of intensity to the music, sounding even a bit menacing sometimes - listen to him on "Eaten Alive" and perhaps you will get my point. It comes as no surprise to learn that his decision to leave led the band to almost immediate desintegration: his singing was unsophisticated perhaps, but it was surely unique and potentially unreplaceable.

Some songs are actually quite strong, such as the aforementioned "Raiders" (nice bass playing and a reasonably catchy chorus, my personal favourite really), "Demon Pact" and "Escape", all presenting the band at their heaviest and with some pretty respectable riffing too. But this CD also shows that the lads still had to considerably hone their songwriting skills if they really aimed to better things, as "Ain't No Woman" and "Cry Witchcraft" were both very rudimentary in terms of song structure. There was a lot of talking about an "unreleased album" from Demon Pact, but "Release from Hell" is proof that it was urban legend after all: their studio legacy is brief (only 7 songs) and the production is raw, to say the least - enough for a few demos and a semi-independent 7'' single, but I suppose they would need further visits to the studio if they ever wanted to release a full LP at the time.

But even the rough edges of the studio offering sound almost overly-produced when we get to the live section of this CD: everything is so poorly recorded that sometimes you can hardly understand what's actually going on. Donald's voice is even more crude than usual, and it's fair to say that ditties such as "Physical Feedback" and "Sick Child" (some of it recorded when the band was still called Fenris Wolf) seems to have been spawned from the very depths of hell, for good and bad. Maybe even Lemmy Kilmister would be a tiny bit shocked with the noisy version of "No Class" here featured... This album closes with two rather pointless inclusions from an ill-fated late 70s project called Rudi Mental: the connection with Demon Pact is extremely tenuous, the production is very poor and the punk rock leanings of "Plain Talk" and "Don't Bother Us" are of minimal interest for NWOBHM addicts. Well, I tend to think almost every piece of music on Earth deserves an official format to call its own, so let's assume it was the only way it would ever find the light of day and hope some more tolerant punk enthusiasts will find joy in listening to it.

All things considered, "Released from Hell" is a good compilation for NWOBHM collectors, but I tend to think those who are not really obsessed about the period in question may find it a bit less enjoyable as a whole. Not that this CD was ever meant to conquer the world in the first place, of course. Maybe Demon Pact could have achieved a higher profile if they managed to stick together a while longer, but I reckon they fulfilled their actual lifespan; let's face it, the scarce vinyl legacy and the lack of information about the band were decisive to create an aura of mystery, and this is what made them underground legends in the end.

Donald Meckiffe (V), Richard Dickerson (G), Alan Dickerson (B), Ian Finlay (D). Also performed: Simon Li (V/G/B on Rudi Mental titles), Roy Bridle (B), Phil Wickenden (D on Fenris Wolf titles).

01. Demon Pact (R. Dickerson, A. Dickerson)
02. Raiders (R. Dickerson, A. Dickerson)
03. Eaten Alive (R. Dickerson, D. Meckiffe)
04. Ain't No Woman (R. Dickerson)
05. Physical Feedback (R. Dickerson)
06. Escape (A. Dickerson)
07. Cry Witchcraft (R. Dickerson, A. Dickerson)
08. Demon Pact (remix) (R. Dickerson, A. Dickerson)
09. Eaten Alive (original mix) (R. Dickerson, D. Meckiffe)
10. Ain't No Woman (remix) (R. Dickerson)
11. Physical Feedback (live) (R. Dickerson)
12. Born to Die (live) (Demon Pact)
13. No Class (live) (Clarke, Kilmister, Taylor)
14. Losing (short version) (live) (R. Dickerson)
15. Sick Child (live) (R. Dickerson, D. Meckiffe)
16. K & F (live) (Demon Pact)
17. Losing (full version) (live) (R. Dickerson)
18. Plain Talk (from Rudi Mental) (S. Li)
19. Don't Bother Us (from Rudi Mental) (S. Li)

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me at and let me know!

sábado, 8 de novembro de 2014

WOLFSBANE (UK) - Massive Noise Injection (CD, Essential/Bronze, 1993)

RATING: ****

You don't need to be an Iron Maiden obsessive to know that singer Blaze Bayley was strutting his stuff with Wolfsbane before joining Steve Harris' army - and that such a choice was much less based on Blaze's singing abilities than on his stage presence during a tour that Maiden and Wolfsbane made together in 1990. "Massive Noise Injection" was recorded in 1993 and it captures a very special moment for the band - not only because it was a gig at the legendary Marquee Club of London (UK), but also because the band were just voted the best unsigned act of the previous year - quite an encouragement for a band that, despite being regarded as a promising act, were just dropped by previous label Def American. "With this single moment we slice the cancer of indifference from our lives forever", celebrates the band at the booklet notes, and it is indeed the feeling that emanates from this record: a band that refuses to concede defeat, determined to go from strenght to strenght.

Wolfsbane always felt at home playing an upbeat, straight-to-the-point mix of British Metal with punk rock, glam and alternative rock 'n' roll, and "Massive Noise Injection" presents their collective talents in no uncertain terms. And if their studio input never really captured the band at their best, this live recording shows for all to hear what the fuss was all about. The CD is as live as it gets, really: the rough edges are audible, the production keeps everything simple and there's an avalanche of energy coming out of every song. Blaze Bayley himself deserves a mention, as I seriously think he is at his best here: his voice fails him in places, his range is far from impressive, but he sings all these sex-drugs-and-rock'n'roll lyrics with such an effort and such a passion that it turns out to be really funny and extremely catchy. His stage banter is also priceless: he spends a lot of time threatening the audience ("put your fists in the air or I'm coming out there and fucking kill you" and stuff like that), but in such an irresponsible, good-spirited way that it only adds to the electrifying atmosphere.

I dare to say every single song here is better than the studio versions, and tunes like "End of the Century", "Manhunt", "Black Lagoon", "Steel", "Loco", "Money to Burn", "Kathy Wilson" and so on (really, I could mention the entire tracklist if I wanted to) were surely crafted to drive an audience wild. Speaking of those in attendance that night, I reckon they may have been not that many, but they sure are totally into it, singing along with the choruses and basically having a whole lotta fun. Wolfsbane have the audience at their mercy, and they give them no time to rest. I'm not even sure why Wolfsbane ever bothered to record studio offerings, as they were such a great live band that a live recording every couple years would be a much wiser move if you ask me. It's unfortunate that Blaze's departure, right after the releasing of Wolfsbane's best studio album ("Wolfsbane", from 1994), signalled the end of the line for the band, as they were undoubtedly a very talented bunch. Things are now full circle though, as Blaze (now a solo artist, as you sure know) reunited with his partners in crime and Wolfsbane is back for more. Heartwarming, for me at least.

If you know nothing about Wolfsbane, this is the CD you should invest your money in, as you will hardly find a better picture of what the group used to be before Maiden come their way. Not an all-time classic perhaps, but if you're playing this one very loud with the lights turned out and still doesn't feel like being there that  night, well, you better seek medical help. Or else you can go fuck yourself, you fucking wanker (that's what Blaze would say, you know!).

Blaze Bayley (V), Jase Edwards (G), Jeff Hatley (B), Steve "Danger" Ellett (D).

01; Protect & Survive
02. Load Me Down
03. Black Lagoon
04. Rope & Ride
05. Kathy Wilson
06. Loco
07. End of the Century
08. Steel
09. Temple of Rock
10. Manhunt
11. Money to Burn
12. Paint the Town Red
13. Wild Thing

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me at and let me know!