sábado, 15 de dezembro de 2018

SAXON (UK) - Metalhead (CD, SPV/Steamhammer, 1999)

RATING: **

Life is never going to be a walk in the park if you're in Saxon, you know. It's fair to say they were doing fine in the tail end of the 1990s, moving forward with a slow-but-steady comeback that cemented their reputation as flamebearers of the NWOBHM and a force to be reckoned within the old-school-metal community. But the relentless touring schedule took its toll upon Nigel Glockler, and the drummer took an extended leave while recovering from some torn muscles in his neck and shoulder, being replaced by German sticksman Fritz Randow (ex-Eloy/Victory/Gamma Ray/Sinner etc). Roughly at the same time, some legal wrangling would soon rear its ugly head, when ex-members Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson registered the Saxon trademark and started booking some club performances under that name - something thar Biff Byford and his lawyers did not take lightly, as I'm sure you can imagine.

The task of crafting songs for a new album will undoubtedly get a lot more difficult under such circumstances, and it's perfectly understandable that a few misfires may happen along the way. The lads from Barnsley always kept a strong work ethic throughout their career, and "Metalhead" (subtleties be damned and all that) came out in 1999 as scheduled, showing that Byford, Quinn, Scarrat, Carter and new boy Randow weren't willing to risk losing momentum. Sheer persistence, you see, and it's a beautiful thing - but some albums are stronger than others, and the degree of inner turbulence prevented Saxon from delivering their best on this particular one.

After a pretty anodyne intro, the title track comes out with some interesting mid-tempo riffing, but leaving something to be desired when it comes to melodies - the chorus, in particular, is far from memorable and doesn't carry things forward as strongly as one would expect, which is something of a letdown considering the usual high standards achieved by most of the Saxon's opening numbers. Fortunately, things are rapidly salvaged by the truly excelent pair that follows, "Are We Travellers in Time" (with a magnificent, otherworldly atmosphere) and "Conquistador" (more upbeat and with a grandiose, powerful chorus, although I can't see much of a sense in the flamenco-tinged opening to be honest). It could have been a brilliant album if most other songs were of similar calibre, but it's not the case, really, and "Metalhead" struggles to keep the listener's attention throughout.

Songs like "What Goes Around", "Prisoner" and "Watching You" are serviceable, but not much else, and the fact that some filler material appears quite early in the running order is clear indication of the difficulties the band were facing to focus on the music with so many distractions coming their way. "Piss Off" is even weaker, an attempt to mix some Pantera-style groovy riffing with more melodic, 80's metal intonations that simply lack the charm and bite one is accostumed to hear from Saxon. "Song of Evil", on the other hand, is a pretty decent tune as a whole, but some of its most crucial transitions sound a bit forced, like the five-piece just needed to rush into the studio and therefore were unable to get things done properly. It ultimately succeeds, you see, but still you get the feeling that the guys just fell very short of doing something really special with this one. Such is life. 

But fear not, fellow headbangers. The hard-hitting "All Guns Blazing" is an excellent excuse for some good, healthy headbanging, and you'll be screaming your lungs out with the chorus without even notice, even though the wisdom of slowing things down in places can surely be called into question. And "Sea of Light" is a very nice closing number, a more pensive number that manages to conjure a grandiose, highly emotional atmosphere without ever sounding forced or overblown. These, along with the aforementioned "Are We Travellers in Time" and "Conquistador", are the moments when this CD really peak, being truly inspired additions to the group's legacy.

With four very good songs out of ten proper tracks, and also some interesting things going on elsewhere within the grooves, labeling "Metalhead" as a failure would be way off the mark if you ask me. Still, it feels like the album just drags itself forward in between its most accomplished tracks, and the considerable lack of replay value on most songs means that you'll hardly play the record from first to last on a regular basis, if at all. Maybe just a couple more enthusiastic tunes would have done wonders around here, but we'll never know for sure. "Metalhead" is a good enough CD, and sure helped to sustain Saxon's renewed status as a reliable metal entity, but it's not a must-listen for anyone but the truly persevering fans of the band. More casual listeners will probably enjoy it to some extent, but there are better records to use as a starting line if you're a beginner in Saxon's music.

Biff Byford (V), Paul Quinn (G), Doug Scarrat (G), Tim 'Nibbs' Carter (B), Fritz Randow (D).

01. Intro 1:24
02. Metalhead 4:52
03. Are We Travellers in Time 5:17
04. Conquistador 4:42
05. What Goes Around 4:24
06. Song of Evil 4:12
07. All Guns Blazing 3:53
08. Prisoner 4:12
09. Piss Off 4:04
10. Watching You 5:18
11. Sea of Life 8:11

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

quarta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2018

THREATIN (USA) - Breaking the World (CD, Superlative Music Recordings, 2017)

RATING: *

Yeah, I know. Why am I doing this? If there was anything clear from the start when the whole Threatin fiasco exploded nearly a week ago, it's that the music itself would be nothing to write home about: let's face it, Jered Threatin (the man who set this all in motion) would hardly need to put so much time and money into faking booking agencies, doctoring live videos, buying a bot fanbase and paying a whole European tour out of his own pocket if he had some insanely good music under his belt. Still, I'm as fascinated by this absurd scenario as much as anyone else (if you spent time on Mars recently and haven't got a clue on what I'm talking about, all the info you need are available here), and, as a direct consequence, I was increasingly curious to listen to "Breaking the World", the debut CD Threating was supposed to be promoting in their not-remotely-packed live outings. The YouTube videos didn't exactly set me into wild anticipation, but I decided to have a chance with the whole album anyway. I don't know, maybe I just felt bad for the guy - though I sure have way more sympathy for the venues, staff, opening acts and live musicians he conned into his scheme. Or maybe I just felt it was a good challenge: write a fair review about Threatin's debut CD, trying to be as neutral as I can while doing so - quite a hard task for sure, given the ridiculous amount of (mostly bad) publicity generated by such absurd chain of events.

Extraordinary circumstances aside, "Breaking the World" is your typical small-time, one-man-band bedroom release. Jered wrote all the music and lyrics, allegedly recorded all instruments (though I'm almost entirely convinced the drum parts are made of samples for the most part) and vocals, and produced the whole thing himself - and oh yeah, he posed for the front cover picture too. His style of choice is what I would call pop metal, in lack of a better term: pretty simple, radio-friendly (and kinda cheesy) heavy rock music, with slightly more forceful guitar work in places and highly melodic vocals, even reminiscent of Hanson (yeah, I know) when in its most saccharine. I wouldn't call it a recipe for disaster, but it's a well-worn formula that demands a lot of songwriting skill to really mean business - something conspicuously lacking around here, I'm afraid.

The production job is distinctively average. The guitar parts, though well played and with some good solos and leads, are a bit too up front in the mix IMO, and I would surely have enjoyed a more dynamic approach to the vocals as well. Jered Threatin is not devoid of talent at all, but he never moves away from the same damn octave throughout the album: never a deeper tone, never a more adventurous variation, always the same high-pitched, strident delivery from moment one to the final throes of the record. In "Fade Into Never" his voice sounds slightly like James Hetfield in a few inflections, but nothing that veers too far from his usual young-rock-band register. And the fact that Jered used to play bass when onstage with his former band Saetith is kinda surprising, as basslines received quite an unflattering treatment around here, being almost impossible to discern it in some songs. Curiously, two of the most accomplished songs in the entire CD ("The Place Between" and "Impulse") are also the ones where the bass is most prominently featured - nothing out of this world really, but it's a welcome change when you're dealing with a record that is so keen to repeat itself over and over again.

In fact, the lack of variation is one of the album's most glaring flaws. Some ideas, though far from staggeringly original, would have worked out way better if not stretched to near-breaking point, as it turned out to be the case. Most songs are build upon just two or three basic patterns repeated ad nauseam, and sometimes even re-used in other tunes just to make things more repetitive. For instance, the melody used for the verses in "The End of You" (one of the most mediocre ditties here featured) is a near carbon-copy of the preceeding track "Living is Dying", a fact that creates the somewhat disturbing feeling of being listening to a rearranged version rather than a different song.

It's difficult to pinpoint highlights here, either positive or negative, since nearly all tracks are pretty generic and interchangeable, and the lyrics are basic at best - some verses, such as "If Need Be" and the aforementioned "Living is Dying", sound downright puerile in its deep-as-a-puddle images of existential crisis. It's not appallingly bad, see: it's just that it's too average to leave any lasting impression, a scenario made even more hopeless by the tales of glory Jered Threatin created around himself and that are now falling flat on his face. If I had received these files as demos from aspiring young musicians who were still trying to get a good thing going, I would surely be inclined to be more charitable about its merits - but it would still be clear to me that they needed some extra months of hard work on their songs before the next step. If you say you're bringing classic rock back or something, I'd expect you to have more to offer than a dozen not-bad-but-not-that-good songs with a semi-amateurish production job to match.

"Breaking the World" badly needed a producer if you ask me -  someone with enough knowledge and authority to trim Jered Threatin's ego, bring some extra musicians into the picture and apply some rigorous quality control to the whole thing. Had it been done, perhaps we would have a pretty decent EP with a handful of good-enough tunes and some replay value to its credit; the way things turned out to be, unfortunately, "Breaking the World" is little more than a not-really-impressive vanity release, a record that would be condemned to forever rest in bargain bins if not for the sudden interest raised by the whole European-tour-gone-wrong debacle. People are sure willing to listen to it, just as I did tonight, but mostly to have a laugh on it rather than giving it a fair chance. It's a cruel state of affairs but, by scamming his way into the headlines as he did, the mastermind behind the music really should have seen it coming. He demeaned his own art, as simple as that.

Jered Threatin sure invested blood, sweat and tears (not to mention loads of money) on his dream, but his efforts were all pointed the wrong way: he wanted to have a high profile before having a career, so he did record a full-length album before crafting a suitable repertoire. In a nutshell, this album is a faithful depiction of the Threatin project as a whole: a ego-driven fantasy that tried to take the world by storm by using shortcuts rather than slowly building a solid entity to be proud of. The one-star rating is perhaps a bit too harsh (it's not like a vomit-inducing album or anything, so perhaps a two-star would be a more adequate choice), but I'm not the one who sold this artifact as a masterpiece, you see, and I sincerely hope no legitimate record label will sign Threatin in the near future, as such shenanigans should never be encouraged, let alone rewarded with a deal, and there's literaly thousands of more deserving bands working real hard to get a break. I don't wish Jered bad, but he's now bound to reap the whirlwind, and let's hope he learns something from the backlash, because he damn sure deserves it.

Jered Threatin (vocals and all instruments)

01. Breaking the World 3:51
02. Living is Dying 3:39
03. The End of You 3:18
04. The Place Between 3:25
05. If Need Be 4:09
06. Identity 3:32
07. Rip Through These Chains 3:46
08. A Memory Forgotten 3:54
09. Impulse 3:13
10. Conscious 3:13
11. Fade Into Never 3:44
12. All Your Pain 4:25

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

quinta-feira, 23 de agosto de 2018

DREQUON'S SPECIAL EDITION: NO NWOBHM HERE, FOLKS! (Volume II)

It's about time to delve once again into the fascinating world of obscure, elusive and not-really-metal-oriented collectables from the 1980's British scene! As stated on Volume I of this series, I happen to enjoy listening (when I don't need to sell my mother to obtain a copy, that is) to records that once were (and sometimes still are) listed in NWOBHM wants lists, but are actually nothing of the sort - and I also think there's enough interest around such items to justify the effort of dropping a few lines about it for history's sake.

There are many reason for a long-forgotten slice of vinyl to be labeled as NWOBHM without actually being a significant release for collectors of the genre - mostly due to shady individuals being deliberately misleading in order to sell a turkey for obscene amounts of money, but genuine mistakes are also not uncommon, either by enthusiasts counfounded by similar band names / picture sleeves / track titles etc or dealers / scholars /database sites that don't research their facts deep enough and keep spreading wrong info around (an ulhealthy habit for sure, but not necessarily done with a clear intent to defraud). So, don't take such articles as finger-pointing or anything: I'm just honestly trying to spread the word around, so buyers can make more informed choices in the future -  and most of these records were already converted to mp3 and can be found on P2P and/or online communities, so it's not like people couldn't find out the truth by themselves, you see.

That all said, I guess we can proceed. OK? Let's go, then:

TERRA COTTA (UK) - Terra Cotta (EP, Private, 1978) **
Coming from Cambridgeshire, the quartet formed by Terry Cotham (V/RG), Steve Ludlam (G), Kelly Cantlon (B) and Chris Woodcock (D) were a reasonably promising act at the tail end of the 1970's, and this 7'' EP from 1978 was at the receiving end of some local adulation when it originally came out. Many dealers have been advertising this slice of vinyl as a pre-NWOBHM achievement of some sort, but proceed with caution if you're partial to the more hard-hitting side of the NWOBHM spectrum, as Terra Cotta is nowhere near a full-on metal assault. "To Be Near You" (soft rock with very simple song structure) and "C'C'Mon" (slightly more pub rock-oriented, but still fairly uncomplicated) comprise the A-side, and there's really not much reason to delve too deep on these numbers, as both are hardly a showcase of groundbreaking musicianship or stunningly original ideas. But things improve to a considerable extent on the flipside, to be fair. "Hard to Know" is the closer to heavy rock you'll get around here, slightly reminiscent of the most hard rocking tunes of prime-era Tygers of Pan Tang, but actually closer to Foghat's "Fool for the City"-era than anything more metallic. There's a lingering, more sedated instrumental section halfway through, but soon things return to more upbeat waters, with a fairly basic (but pleasant) guitar solo. The guitar work in "Two Timin' Me" is also not a million miles away from heavy music (there's even a twin-guitar melody discreetly going on in places), but only those really charitable will agree to rank it among the pioneering efforts that preceeded the NWOBHM explosion, as the 1970's hard-rocking values of this track are also too clear to be ignored. Terra Cotta weren't really trying to revitalize heavy metal back in 1978: I'd say it's way more a case of trying to play uncompromising, basic rock and roll for the benefit of small, but probably very enthusiastic local audiences. I think it's fair enough, and I'm sure they enjoyed themselves while it lasted. Unfortunately, their quest for worldwide (or local) stardom seems to have been a short-lived one, and they had already bitten the dust for good even before NWOBHM really got going, which was a bit of bad timing perhaps. It's not that hard to locate a copy for a reasonable price these days, so perhaps it's a good one to add to your collection if you're OK with some light-hearted rock music in your spare time.

DEAD CERT (UK) - Time Bomb (7'', Certain Records, 1980) **
Promising band name and songtitles perhaps, but don't get too excited! This South London bunch were on the go since 1978 at least, playing a brand of rock and roll / power pop with some 1960's leanings, most evident on the B-side of this 7'' single from 1980, recorded at R+G Jones studios in Wimbledon. "You'd Better Stop" is pretty much an invitation to dance (sorry mates, but I'd rather sit this one out if you don't mind), while "Time Bomb" is a much more substantial number: the languishing guitar arrangements are a bit too overdone for my personal taste, but the song is OK as a whole I guess. The NWOBHM tag added to this piece on a number of eBay auctions is completely misleading anyway, this being a collectable for those curious about the many unfoldings of late 1970's punk rock scene, but of minimal (if any) interest for British Metal enthusiasts. Dead Cert seems to have had a fair chance to make it big for a while, laying down some demos for record labels and getting as far as opening to The Cure in 1979 (thanks to My Life is a Jigsaw for the info), but everything fizzled out not long after the single was released, probably due to the lack of serious commitment from record labels of the time. If you're interested, though (and there's nothing wrong about enjoying some 1980's power pop along with your usual ration of metal, you know), a live recording is known to have come out as a CDR sometime in the 2000's, and it seems that a version of the band was ongoing in as late as 2011, recording songs for the purposes of a full-length release. I suppose none of such recordings have seen the light of day so far, but you got to give them credit for keep on rocking after such a long time, and I sincerely wish them the best.

EMANON (UK) - Raging Pain (7'', Clubland, 1977) *
Yet another case of potentially-misleading moniker, this sole slice of vinyl from Emanon came out via Clubland, a label known to have released a few pretty respectable slices of heavy music (Camargue and Destroyer being good examples) from the late 1970's onwards. I'm sure it sounds like a band name some long-haired NWOBHM hopefuls would pick from a demonology book or something, but look closely and perhaps you'll find out it's only "no name" spelled backwards... Oh well, it sure looks like a metal-enough artifact at first, and when you consider that most copies were originally sold without a picture sleeve, it's not difficult to understand that a few early-2000's NWOBHM collectors got carried away by enthusiasm when locating a copy of this one. Don't let yourself be fooled though: it's all semi-punk new wave nonsense, and not a very exciting one on that, at least to my humble, fallible ears. There's a interesting enough 60's rock feel in "Rip a Bough", the flipside of this 7'', with a few guitar harmonies reminding me of The Byrds - not quite in the same league of course, but still a nice enough touch. But the song is pretty unspectacular as a whole, I'm afraid, and the garage rock leanings of "Raging Pain" are also not enough to give this record enough substance to really qualify it as a nice find. The self-production job is quite bad to be honest, and some guitars even sound out of tune in places, which is hardly a redeeming factor if you ask me. Oh well, the lads sound young and unexperienced, so let's not be too harsh on them. Perhaps more broad-minded punk collectors may find some enjoyment listening to this one, but I reckon most NWOBHM aficionados are well advised to not include Emanon (not an unique name choice by any means, go figure) on their want lists. A fact made even more obvious when you take a look to the rubber-stamped sleeve that houses a small fraction of the surviving copies, quite a giveaway of its not-remotely-metal contents.

ABC (UK) plus WITCHES BREW (UK) - Rhythm On The Radio / The Party's Over (7'', Oval, 1979) *
The existence of a LP compilation named "The Honky Tonk Demos", released by the Oval label in 1979, will hardly be a mystery for more dedicated vinyl collectors, as it features one of the earliest known recordings from none other than Dire Straits - a live demo version of "Sultans of Swing" that is. Compiled by DJ Charlie Gillett from songs he used to play in his alternative radio show called "Honky Tonk" on BBC Radio London, this slice of vinyl also gave useful exposure to artists that actually made a name for themselves in later years (such as Darts, Chas'n'Dave, Charlie Dore and Live Wire, to name a few), so it's fair to say it truly served its purpose to bring some new music to the masses. But I guess it's comparatively less widespread knowledge that an obscure 7'' split single was also released, selecting two songs already included on the original package. It's difficult to understand the point behind such release, mind you, as neither ABC nor Witches Brew were particularly shiny hopefuls at the time, and I'm pretty sure there were dozens of deserving bands that weren't included on the LP and would be more than willing to receive such a chance instead. Bizarrely, some newcomers to the NWOBHM collecting scene seemingly found this long-forgotten single in a bargain bin or something, and immediately associated the Witches Brew here included to the obscure Irish bunch of the same name, responsible for the mildly interesting "Angeline" 7'' in 1983. They were wrong of course, and a single listen to the jazzy, bossa-nova tinged "The Party's Over" may have been enough to provide conclusive evidence that it's an entirely different combo indeed. It's an OK song I guess (in abridged form when compared to the LP inclusion), with good female vocals, a nice flute solo and even a few noisy guitar histrionics in places. But it simply has nothing to do with heavy rock, let alone heavy metal, and the same can be said about ABC's "Rhythm on the Radio", a reggae tune with slightly funky basslines that will hardly be the soundtrack for good headbanging, you see. It's not at all difficult to buy it cheap enough if you just can't live without a copy, but there's really no reason to bother if you're a NWOBHM aficionado, so I'd suggest you to just let it find its way into more suitable shelves if you ever find this one for sale.

BRANDS HATCH (UK) - Teacher Teacher (7'', Independent, 1983) **
Yeah, I know. Such an esoteric item, eh? But we have to deal with the facts around here, and the facts are plain and simple: this particular piece of wax is no NWOBHM monster at all. Tales about the existence of this single are circulating since at least the mid 2000s, and some assumed for a while that it was the same band that laid down two tracks for the famed "Roxcalibur" compilation (some sources still do, incidentally), a misconcept that skyrocketed the prices of this record to the stratosphere. But it's not the case really, and this particular Brands Hatch (whoever they were and wherever they came from) were seemingly at home playing a very melodic, slightly more hard-rocking - but still quite unsubstantial and innofensive - type of pop rock/new wave music. The opening chords of "Teacher Teacher" may be quite deceptive, as there are indeed some heavy enough guitar arrangements going on - a bit reminiscent of Masterstroke's "Prisoner of Love", if such comparison makes sense to you. But soon the female vocals appear, the keyboards take control of the song and the truth of the matter will be established without any room for doubt. Still, it may be a reasonably acceptable listen if you have a (very) broader view on what NWOBHM is about - until those dreadful clapping hands make a not-really-welcome appearance towards the end of the song, at least. But I guess there's no metalhead in the world that wil enjoy listening to "You Can Make it if You Try", the flipside of this 7'', as it's a new romantic-tinged, soul-influenced, featherweight pop ballad that makes for one the most pitiful scores ever reached on my personal Metalomether. The backlash from wealthy collectors who first bought this slice of vinyl seems to have dwindled the asking price quite dramatically, so you can perhaps buy a copy of this (admitedly very rare) item without remortgaging your house in the process, but it's hardly worth the effort if you're a heavy metal fan, believe me. Whatever the case, it would be nice to know more about this (seemingly very fleeting) combo, so, if you ever had any involvement with it, I would be more than happy to get in touch with you, so we can tell the facts behind this particular Brands Hatch in greater detail.

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

domingo, 5 de agosto de 2018

SAXON (UK) - Unleash the Beast (CD, Virgin/CMC International, 1997)

RATING: **

I wasn't there, you know, but I have the distinct feeling the recording sessions for "Unleash the Beast" marked the most relaxing times Saxon had in the studio for quite a while. The stormy days were far behind at last, and everything was going well with the band at the time. Previous album "Dogs of War" was laured by fans and critics as an impressive return to form, the ensuing tour was quite a well-attended (and therefore lucrative) one, and the NWOBHM survivors were in the receiving end of a fair bit of widespread recognition at last, being increasingly regarded by pretty much everyone in the scene as reliable flamebearers on all things Heavy Metal. New soldier Doug Scarratt had little (if any) difficulty to fit in too, and all the tensions created during the dramatic break-up with original guitarist Graham Oliver seemed a thing of the past too - it would eventually resurface in quite nasty terms a couple years later, you see, but let's not touch the subject just yet, as it's better suited for upcoming reviews. And CMC International (later to take new shape as Sanctuary Music) declared interest in distributing the band's new opus, a much-welcome backing that allowed them to book some USA dates once again, the first jaunt to the country in nearly a full decade. Yeah, Saxon were doing just fine in the late 1990s - and tell me, who can blame them for getting a bit carried away?

I wouldn't go as far as to say that "Unleash the Beast" suffers due to a presumable lack of focus, but it's clear for all to hear that it's a less engaging and powerful album than its predecessor. I wouldn't call it faceless too: actually, there's something of a distinct personality lurking beneath the grooves, with some dark leanings in both lyrics and instrumentation that were quite uncommon for Saxon up to that point. But it's mostly underdeveloped really, and the final product sounds mostly without a direction as a result, with frequent distractions stealing much of the album's potential thunder.

Let's take the title track as an example. After an anodyne intro, the first proper song on the CD takes off in pretty interesting terms, with a hard-hitting vibe that is a direct descendant from the glorious early 1980's, as well as a slightly atmospheric, memorable chorus. Nothing new really, but definitely well done and perfectly enjoyable, exactly what one would expect from these long-serving metal merchants. But I still struggle to come to terms with the final section of this tune, a musical detour that sounds totally disposable and sewn together with the rest at very short notice. It doesn't go anywhere really, fading out without ever threating to make sense, and this ill-conceived outro turns out to be quite detrimental to the overall effect of the song, which is a shame if you ask me.

This lack of cohesion (or inspiration) is equally present on many other songs around here. "Terminal Velocity", for instance, doesn't really deliver the promise of its title, being a hard-rocking bike anthem that is pleasant enough, but far from groundbreaking if you ask me. Tracks like "The Preacher" and "The Thin Red Line" are mildly interesting, but not much else, and ballad "Absent Friends" is simply not in the same league of, say, "Iron Wheels" or "Refugee" (and the over-simplistic chorus is quite a letdown too). "Cut Out the Disease" has its moments (most of all in the heavy-as-hell, almost sludgy guitar work), but its structure is quite confusing as a whole, with mellower parts coming and going without much of an outline to justify such oscillations.

Not all is lost, though. "Circle of Light" (nice main riff and pretty effective vocal lines) and "Ministry of Fools" (highly melodic) are more than capable inclusions to the band's ever-expanding repertoire, working quite well  without ever getting too complicated in the process. Similarly, I can't see anyone ever listing "Bloodletter" as a classic, but it's an enthusiastic tune full of good metallic intentions, and I'm sure there's enough in it to justify a healthy dose of headbanging. "All Hell Breaking Loose" moves perilously close to self-parody in places, but I happen to like this tune's uplifting nature, so I'd say it closes proceedings in a mostly good manner. And the presence of good riffs aplenty (even when put to use in less-than-memorable songs) was a healthy sign when it comes to Doug Scarratt's creative input, showing that he was more than capable to help the band's cause in no small terms.

"Unleash the Beast" is hardly a highlight in Saxon's career, but let's not be too harsh on them: some albums are simply better than others, and one can't honestly expect a band to hit the nail right on the head every single time. It may not have been the further move towards world domination some perhaps would expect, but it was no step backwards either, and the developments ignited by this particular release sure helped the band's cause in the long run. You don't really need it if you're not an ardent fan, but it's not like you should avoid it at all costs too - I do own a copy myself, for instance, and I even give it a few spins from time to time. Don't be afraid to give it a chance if you find it for sale at a reasonable price.

Biff Byford (V), Paul Quinn (G), Doug Scarratt (G), Nibbs Carter (B), Nigel Glockler (D).

01. Gothic Dreams 1:33
02. Unleash the Beast 5:18
03. Terminal Velocity 4:46
04. Circle of Light 5:28
05. The Thin Red Line 6:20
06. Ministry of Fools 4:31
07. The Preacher 4:57
08. Bloodletter 5:33
09. Cut Out the Disease 5:25
10. Absent Friends 4:57
11. All Hell Breaking Loose 4:31

Have you been involved with any of the bands here mentioned? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

sábado, 4 de agosto de 2018

SAXON (UK) - The Eagle Has Landed Part II (2 CD, Virgin, 1996)

RATING: ***

It was a long way back to the top (well, sort of), but Saxon finally fulfilled their redemption with 1995's highly accomplished "Dogs of War". Maybe the sales figures weren't as impressive as one would expect, but the metal fraternity surely welcomed this major return to form with open arms, and the lenghty (and healthly lucrative) tour that followed was a direct consequence of renewed general interest in the band's activities. To celebrate their improved status, and as a much-needed break before a new batch of songs could be properly written and recorded, the English stalwarts picked some cuts from their recent German jaunt and assembled it as the somewhat pompous "The Eagle Has Landed Part II" 2-CD release. As an extra, the album also served the purpose to formally introduce new axeman Doug Scarrat, being the first release to ostensibly feature his name and contributions. Not a classic by any stretch, this live record is a pretty pleasant listen all the same, and I feel there's enough things to say about it to justify the exercise of a short review, at least.

Given that "Dogs of War" was the album being promoted during the gigs, and remembering how well received it was by the time of its release, it's a somewhat unexpected fact that it's mostly absent in the running order. There's only three songs from the aforementioned album, while "Solid Ball of Rock" (a not-very-successful and, honestly, less interesting CD) is granted with no less than five inclusions - and I'm not mentioning the preludes, mind you. I mean, we could easily had lived without "Can't Stop Rockin'" or "Ain't Gonna Take it" in order to have some "Burning Wheels" or "Yesterday's Gone" included. Who knows, maybe the lads just found out their most recent batch of compositions, albeit pretty strong as a studio offering, just didn't have enough bite to make the pundits go wild in the live environment or something. At least the few inclusions from their 1995 opus are all strong and effective, with both "Dogs of War" and "The Great White Buffalo" ranking amongst the best renditions of the entire set - and "Demolition Alley", surely an unusual choice for a final track, actually works out fine too, being a pleasant and upbeat way to close proceedings.

Quite well recorded and mixed, "The Eagle Has Landed Part II" is still not recommended for those unfamiliar with Saxon, due to the fact that only a few classics from the 1980s actually made it into the final product. "Denim and Leather" features guest Swedish axeman Yngwie Malmsteen making one of his typically excessive, tasteless performances, so I'd say it's hardly the best version of this NWOBHM standard ever recorded, you know. "Crusader" (in abridged form) serves its purpose well enough, and the mandatory duo of "Princess of the Night" and "Wheels of Steel" can do no wrong as well, but I'd pick "The Eagle Has Landed" as a true highlight here: its remarkable atmosphere works admirably well upon a stage, and Biff Byford really sings his heart out on this one. But that's pretty much it when it comes to classic-era Saxon around here, and I'm sure any old-time fans of the band will be more than capable to name over a dozen other tracks from the old days that could (and, in some cases, should) have been included. I truly understand the reason for such omissions, as this live album was meant to celebrate recent achievements rather than past glories, but the resulting package turns out to be one for those already converted, as newcomers will hardly have a representative picture of Saxon's trajetory with this one.

That all said, there's really no reason to dismiss this one if you're a fan, and don't hesitate to spend a few bucks on it if you find a copy being offered for sale. There's hardly any turkey on sight, and Saxon does a commendable job in both the hard-hitters ("Light in the Sky", "Crash Dive", "Forever Free") and the more thoughtful, subtle moments ("Requiem", "Iron Wheels", "Refugee"), so you can rest assured that you're going to spend an hour and a half with some truly pleasant music coming out of your speakers.

Biff Byford (V), Paul Quinn (G), Doug Scarrat (G), Nibbs Carter (B), Nigel Glockler (D). Guest musician: Yngwie Malmsteen (G on "Denim and Leather").

CD 1
01. Warlord (intro) 2:19
02. Dogs of War 4:52
03. Forever Free 4:49
04. Requiem 5:55
05. Crusader 5:57
06. Light in the Sky 4:30
07. Iron Wheels 4:18
08. Ain't Gonna Take it 4:44
09. Crash Dive 4:22
10. Refugee 6:02

CD 2
01. Solid Ball of Rock 5:03
02. The Great White Buffalo 6:32
03. The Eagle Has Landed 7:37
04. Princess of the Night 5:16
05. Can't Stop Rockin' 4:40
06. Denim and Leather 6:19
07. Wheels of Steel / Demolition Alley 12:53

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

sábado, 28 de julho de 2018

RHIANNON TOMOS A'R BAND (UK-Wales) - Dwed y Gwir (LP, Sain, 1981)

RATING: ***

A little bit of context is needed to understand how significant Rhiannon Tomos' emergence was for the Welsh-language music scene. Not that I'm the most adequate person to provide such explanations, given I'm a late-30's guy from Brazil and never even visited Wales in my entire life, let alone being there when the events took place, but there you go. This is going to be a somewhat lengthy review, so I'd suggest you to find yourself a nice couch and make yourself comfortable before we proceed.

Female singers were always a very important aspect of Welsh music. It's a fact that sure makes sense, given the contemplative, often yearning feeling commonly associated with Wales' cultural manifestatons, as well as the subtle, highly melodic nature of their music. And singing being almost an inborn thing for Welsh citizens, it's no wonder many, many great singing ladies are born in (or at least related to) Wales. Since at least the 1960's, Welsh-language bands have tried to built the bridge between traditional folk and more contemporary pop-rock music - many of such groups (Bran and Chwyldro being good examples) featuring talented women in the mike stand. None of them were rock vocalists per se, mind you: though immensely talented, these ladies were folk/classical singers at heart, just happening to be included on more rock-oriented outfits, as part of a particular set-up.

Rhiannon Tomos was different. Appearing pretty much out of nowhere at the tail end of the 1970's, she wasn't a woman doing her best to play rock and roll: she was a rocker woman, and pretty much the first such artist in the Welsh-language scene. Where everyone else was trying to do the right thing, she was the thing herself, and the impact of her arrival in a scene still underdeveloped and short on iconic figures can hardly be overestimated.

Her first vinyl appearance (at least to my knowledge) came in 1980, when she contributed two tracks to the now scarce "Yn Dawel Hyd Nawr" compilation. One of her songs, "India'r Prynhawn", was seemingly very successful in the Welsh-language community at the time, and she became a focus of attention almost immediately. Rhiannon signed the dotted line to the obliging Sain label in the same year, and a 7'' single ensued, coupling "Gormod I'w Golli" with a stunning, forceful rendition of "Cwm Hiraeth", an old favorite in the area. When the sole LP of Rhiannon Tomos a'r Band came out in 1981, the frontwoman was already close to a household name, with a guest appearance for Geraint Jarman (the one who wrote the aforementioned "Cwm Hiraeth") in his "Diwrnod I'r Brenin" album surely coming as a helpful piece of further exposure. The expectations were high, and it seems that "Dwed y Gwir" was raptuously received by the small-but-enthusiastic scene, though pretty much all rock fans elsewhere were unaware of the album's existence until much later, when the vocalist's connection with the highly collectable Y Diawled sparked interest from dedicated NWOBHM fans.

And what a voice Rhiannon Tomos has. Some male singers (I'd mention Ian Gillan, Paul Di'Anno and, outside of metal, Eric Burdon as examples) have what I call, in lack of a better term, a 'masculine' quality to their voice: a distinct and entirely unusual faculty to not only sound like a man (pretty much all male vocalists can do that, you know) but to conjure - in a nearly archetypal sense, and by virtue of singing alone - the very nature and spirit of the gender. Of course Paul Di'Anno was, in his glorious Iron Maiden days, the perfect image of a young man's energy and swagger, but try to forget his figure for a moment: just close your eyes, think of his voice on, say, "Prowler" or "Killers" and perhaps you'll catch my drift. Well, bearing this concept in mind, Rhiannon Tomos is a very strong example of what I'd call a 'feminine' voice - and please don't take this as an eulogy to delicate melodies and fairy-like intonations at all. Rhiannon's singing is gritty and soulful (Janis Joplin was surely quite an influence to her), and she doesn't sound like a princess waiting for the brave knight to rescue her from the tower, but rather as a strong, unsubmissive and powerful (very powerful) woman, a free spirit on her own right. The passion, the strenght and subtleties, the very nature of womanhood: it's all there, slighty rough-edged perhaps, but still mesmerizing in all its charm.

I don't want to rely too much on comparisons, as I'm afraid it could be hopelessly misleading. Instead, I'll just suggest you to watch this video, featuring an immensely impressive rendition of "Dim Ond Y Diafol" ("Only the Devil", I suppose), my personal favorite from the group's LP. Take your time - I'll be right here when you come back.



Pretty cool, huh? I don't think there's any reason to deny that I find this video to be quite fascinating - and though it obviously has something to do with Rhiannon Tomos' looks (she was, and I'm sure still is, a beatiful woman after all), I'm sure you'll agree that the most important strong point here is her performance. Lots of charisma and stage presence, with a very gifted voice to match - that's all you need to deliver a memorable rendition, which is exactly the case here. And she seems to have written almost all the lyrics in her career, giving her some extra points on my Accomplished Artist's Award.

And what about the album, you ask me? Well, one must have in mind it's not a heavy metal record by any stretch: it's straight-ahead rock and roll for the most part, with many references to the 1970's blues rock scene and oh yeah, a few more hard-rocking ditties to make metalheads happy too. The songs may not be really challenging, but the instrumentation leaves little to nothing to be desired: the rhythm section (drummer Graham 'La' Land and Mark Jones on bass) keep things simple and tight throughout, and the guitar duo of Len Jones and Meredydd Morris deserve some praise indeed, as there's some pretty interesting teamwork going on in places. But the spotlights are all on Rhiannon Tomos of course, and I'm glad to say she shines quite brightly from start to finish, even if some songs could be a bit better, if we're to be honest here.

Opening number "'Sdim Digon i'w Gael" is my least favourite tune by far, a pop rock attempt with some languid instrumentation and Rhiannon Tomos sounding a lot like Nina Hagen (yeah, I know, a strange comparison indeed). It's not atrocious, see, just not my cup of tea really. "Rosaline" (the hit single from the LP, so to say) starts with some promising guitar histrionics, but soon takes shape as a boogey/bluesy rocker that is not at all bad, but loses much of its thunder if you weren't there when it first came out, I'm afraid. "Cofio'r Cur" is a pleasant rocker to be fair, with some flamboyant guitar arrangements that work out fine if you're in the right frame of mind, but I'd say that is with "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" that things really start to peak. It reminds me a little of the earliest recordings from Praying Mantis (I mean "Johnny Cool", "The Ripper" and their ilk), though it's surely not a metal song at all, just a nice 70's-tinged hard rocker that you can listen to with a smile on your face. And next comes "Cer a Hi (i'r Eithaf Un)", easily the highlight for those who want nothing but the heavier stuff. The riffs and solos are straight up NWOBHM, Rhiannon's singing is full of attitude, and the semi-epic ending is unexpected, but pretty cool. If this was the A-side of a scarse 7'' single you'd be all falling over yourselves to get a copy, believe me, and NWOBHM collectors with money to spend will make a wise move buying the LP in virtue of this track alone, as it's a bloody good one.

As stated above, I love "Dim Ond Y Diafol" with a passion, this being a heavy ballad that opens Side Two with a slightly ominous vibe, while allowing Rhiannon Tomos a lot of space to shine. It's her most impressive performance on the entire record IMO (and paired with "Cwm Hiraeth" as my personal highlights from her career), but I understand some long-haired, horn-raising listeners won't be as impressed as I am, which is something of a shame if you ask me, but nevermind. More blues rock comes next with "Dynamite" and "Proffwyd", the latter being a song that could be played right after Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing" without being too out of place at all (and I mean it as a good thing, really). "Penna 'Lawr" is reasonably hard-rocking, and it could perhaps have been a fitting B-side to the hyphotetical "Cer a Hi" single as the second most-NWOBHM-ish tune around here - if you happen to like Y Diawled's "Dewch Gyda Ni" (I sure do, for instance), there's no tangible reason to dislike this one. To round things off, "America" is a slightly more adventurous piece of songwriting, with a moody, atmospheric final section that gives the record something of a relaxing ending. It seems to be the most thoughtful moment of the LP alongside "Dim Ond Y Diafol", but my Welsh is almost nonexistent as you can all imagine, so I don't have a clue on what Rhiannon and her friends could possibly be thinking about on this one. Sounds nice anyway, so I'd say it's a fitting way to close proceedings on a mostly enjoyable LP.

Rhiannon Tomos a'r Band were active for around a year after "Dwed y Gwir" was out, seemingly playing a final concert in late 1982. The musicians who recorded the album kept busy with a lot of different projects through the years, with Meredydd Morris moving to the production/mixing side of things and both Len Jones and Graham Land being pretty much in-demand for shows and recording sessions, with careers that are still going strong to this day. As for Rhiannon herself, the very talented vocalist would jump straight into full-on metal soon after, joining the equally-promising Y Diawled - easily the heaviest band to have ever sang in Welsh. The ultra-collectable "Noson Y Blaidd" 7'' from 1983 is a pretty strong one, and it seems to have been quite an anticipated release in the area (even a small TV documentary was made about the recording process), though it wasn't enough to really get things going for Rhiannon's new venture. In fact, the language barrier would always be very difficult to break down, though I'm inclined to think the musicians involved never really wanted to take the UK by storm in the first place (and there's a lot of interesting/thought-provoking explanations for this stance, but I'm really not the most adequate person to ellaborate on all this, so I'll humbly sit this one out if you don't mind).

Whatever the story, Y Diawled was no more in early 1984, and Rhiannon herself wouldn't persevere in the scene for long. After being part of the We-Are-The-World-style benefit single "Dwylo Dros Y Môr" (1985), she formed a blues rock band called Bandit in 1986, but it was a very fleeting affair with no official recordings ever surfacing. Since then, she seems to have chosen to keep a low profile (the fact that the whole Welsh-language rock thing fizzled out in the late 1980's surely didn't help matters), though I'm aware she gave at least a few local interviews through the years. In fact, there's good reason to believe she have reformed her Band for sporadic, celebratory gigs from the early 2000's onwards (she almost surely took part in the Faenol festival in 2000, for instance), though I would definitely like to have more conclusive evidence on such outings. Still, I sincerely hope she's doing fine and enjoying whatever activities she's involved with nowadays. I know it's a pretty common finish line for reviews around here, but I hardly ever meant it as whole-heartedly as I do now: if you good reader happen to have any extra snippet of info regarding Rhiannon Tomos a'r Band (most of all, of course, about Rhiannon herself), it would be an extremely kind gesture of yours to get in touch. I understand that life moves on and people are often just unwilling to dwell too deep in the past, but I'm a huge fan really, and it would be fantastic to learn more about an artist I very much admire, and the musicians who helped her to create some pretty nice music back in the day.





Rhiannon Tomos (V), Len Jones (G), Meredydd Morris (G), Mark Jones (B), Graham 'La' Land (D).

01. 'Sdim Digon i'w Gael (M.Morris / R.Tomos) 4:00
02. Rosaline (L.Jones / R. Tomos) 2:23
03. Cofio'r Cur (M.Morris / R. Tomos) 3:51
04. La Belle Dame Sans Merci (M.Morris / R.Tomos) 3:26
05. Cer a Hi (i'r Eithaf Un) (L.Jones / R.Tomos) 3:22
06. Dim Ond y Diafol (J.Lovering / L.Jones / R.Tomos) 3:54
07. Dynamite (L.Jones / R.Tomos) 3:12
08. Proffwyd (M.Morris / R. Tomos) 3:33
09. Penna 'Lawr (L.Jones / R. Tomos) 2:31
10. America (M.Morris / R.Tomos) 5:51

Have you been involved with any of the bands here mentioned? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

sábado, 17 de março de 2018

Fire in Harmony (Compilation, UK, Elusive Records, 1985)

RATING: ***

As any serious NWOBHM collector probably know damn too well by now, you have to keep an open mind in order to make some discoveries. Sometimes, a truly metal-looking combo and/or record turns out to be nothing of the sort (examples abound, and some were already mentioned at this very space), but sometimes it's the exact opposite, with some interesting finds waiting for you on truly unpredictable places. And sometimes your reward may be not as skull-crushingly heavy as one perhaps would expect, but you'll still get some interesting music with reasonable crossover potential and decent amounts of replay value, which is already a good thing if you ask me. "Fire in Harmony" was one of the very first releases from Elusive Records, an imprint from EMI conducted by Marillion's then-manager John Arnison and devoted to release new talents in the prog rock field. As you probably would have guessed by now, it's not a heavy rock sample by any stretch, and I'm sure those responsible never planned for it to be taken as such. Though surely more suited for the progressive rock fraternity, it's also a mildly interesting item for NWOBHM aficionados, as it presents an exclusive number from Liaison (a much-loved borderline act that appeal to both long-haired rockers and prog-heads), and there's also a fair percentage of pretty decent (though not astonishingly heavy) music to be heard within its grooves.

Pendragon's "Fly High, Fall Far" opens proceedings in very melodic fashion, though slightly forceful rhythm guitars and a more upbeat chorus keep things lively enough. These lads never had much (or anything) to do with NWOBHM musically, but their arrival to the scene happened pretty much in the midst of the British Metal resurgence of the early 1980's, a fact that garner them sympathy from many headbangers back in the day. It's an interesting, reasonably engaging number, and easily one of the most (well, slightly) heavy-rocking tracks on the entire record. Next comes Haze, another act close enough to the NWOBHM archetype to be regarded as something of a near-crossover act - it even makes an appearance on Malc McMillan's NWOBHM encyclopedia, which comes to show their not-so-tenuous links to the original explosion. That said, their "Shadows" effort didn't really strike the right chord with me, sounding like a confuse attempt to put many separate ideas together in a rather dramatic 5-minute song. Some parts remind me of Jethro Tull in their "Thick As a Brick"-ish, most histrionic moments, while others are closer to the most contemplative, keyboard-based atmospheres penned by (yeah, you guessed it) Marillion, and the efforts made to tie such disparate loose ends are not entirely successful, I'm afraid. An ambitious number for sure, but I guess it just wasn't ready to be committed to vinyl just yet, and you can rest assured that Haze did way better on many of their multifarious independent releases.

Easily the main focus of attention for those obsessed with the NWOBHM, Liaison's "A Tale of You" may be a bit disappointing to some, as it's a featherweight, slow-moving track with languid guitars and strong use of keyboard ambiances. The rhythm section pretty much keep things going and not much else, and we're nowhere near the upbeat, catchy territory of more recognizable compositions like "Play it With Passion" or "Only Heaven Knows", to name a few, so this 7-minute-plus journey may not be exactly what die-hard metalheads are looking for. Still, it moves forward with undeniable elegance, and I suppose that submitting it was a conscious choice, so they wouldn't be too out of place among the other neo-prog combos on display. It's decent enough, but not a groundbreaking number by any stretch, and those willing to learn more about Liaison are well advised to start somewhere else, as this one may leave an inaccurate first impression of the band's output. To close side one of this LP, Trilogy brings "Hidden Mysteries", a surprisingly dynamic and enthusiastic song that is one of the most interesting inclusions by far. This competent combo seemed to know exactly how to balance the usual subtleties of the genre with a much-needed hard-rocking vibe, and this varied composition (further enhanced by excellent guitar work) really deserve a careful listen or two from more broad-minded collectors. Well done, lads.

Side 2 of the LP starts with Solstice's "Peace", a soft number that moves perilously close to new wave mediocrity in places, but fortunately sounds more like a extra moody version of Renaissance overall. It gets a tad more intense in the final section, but it's mostly fairly sedated, with female vocals that, albeit slightly shrill when reaching for the higher notes, are pretty effective for the most part and really carry the song along well. Citizen Cain is next in line, and they're perhaps those more keen to experiment with tempo changes, unusual time signatures and so on. Their "Unspoken Words" effort is really convoluted in that sense, taking repeated listens to fully grasp their highly unusual song structure and very busy instrumentation. The singer lacks range and versatility, being easily the weak spot on this one, but it's such an adventurous and competently crafted composition that I'll stick my neck out and say it turns out to be the best song out of the whole package. The influence of Rush is unmistakable, but it's actually an accomplished piece of songwriting with merits all of its own: let's face it, it's no easy task to write such a relentless, yet almost easy-flowing track, most of all when you're youthful, inexperienced newcomers to the scene. It surely deserves way more attention than it seems to have received at the time of its release, if you ask me.

After such a pleasant surprise, La Host is something of a letdown, their "Blood and Roses" contribution being quite a mess, if we're to be point-blank honest here. They were sure eager to experiment with krautrock, electronic elements and so on, which is not a bad thing in itself of course, but really needs to be in service of coherent songwriting to have the right effect. In fact, my first impression was to be listening to a teaser rather than a proper song, with snippets of different pieces put together to advertise an upcoming album or something. Repeated listens made "Blood and Roses" slightly more comprehensible, but it's still too much of an oddball for comfort, and I reckon most heavy rockers out there won't be missing much by not bothering to track down this one. Final track is "Fire in the Sky" by Quasar, another female-fronted proposition (the singer actually reminds me of Geddy Lee, go figure) that discreetly flirts with new wave, but ultimately (and wisely) choose to keep their musical landscapes into the realms of neo-prog safety. The song is divided into two very distinct parts: it starts with a more hard-edged approach, being even reasonably heavy in places, then metamorphosing into soothing, ethereal parts that counterbalance the previous adrenaline flow. Some rough edges are audible in a few transitions, but the track as a whole is pretty decent and I've no doubt that most prog rock addicts (and some like-minded metal fans) will enjoy the ride. 

When it comes to listening enjoyment, "Fire in Harmony" was a mostly pleasant and worthwhile experience, and it was a handy piece of exposure for most of the participants as well. Pendragon had already signed the dotted line with Elusive by the time the compilation LP was out, and went to enjoy a mostly successful career that goes on to this day (and that will most probably be further mentioned here in due course), while Quasar, Solstice and Citizen Cain would also release a number of individual records in later years. Though never snapped by more established labels, Haze managed to maintain quite a hectic working ethic, putting out a myriad of independent releases (most of it originally on cassette format only), not to mention a truly complex family tree with countless offshoot projects that would take us a full article to properly explain (again, kindly watch this space for further developments in the not-too-distant future). Unfortunately, the immensely enjoyable Liaison would not last for long after "Fire in Harmony" was out, and we keep our fingers crossed in hopes for a retrospective CD/LP to come out in the future, as they sure have enough recorded material and their collective talents damn sure deserve it. LaHost also failed to last the distance, but a collection of unreleased tracks came out as early as 1992, while Trilogy (a very talented bunch, as above stated) were inexplicably ignored by record labels and disappeared towards oblivion in a matter of a year or so, which was a total disgrace if you ask me.

01. PENDRAGON - Fly High, Fall Far
02. HAZE - Shadows
03. LIAISON - A Tale of You
04. TRILOGY - Hidden Mysteries
05. SOLSTICE - Peace
06. CITIZEN CAIN - Unspoken Words
07. LA HOST - Blood and Roses
08. QUASAR - Fire in the Sky

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

sábado, 10 de março de 2018

SHADDOWFAX (UK) - Really Into You (7'', BFD Records, 1979)

RATING: **

Now to a case of near-identical band names causing a bit of confusion. Dedicated NWOBHM enthusiasts sure know about Shadowfax, a bunch (from East Dulwich) that released a 7'' named "The Russians are Coming!" in 1980 and, despite being considerably closer to punk/powerpop territory than usual, still have a strong crossover appeal for 1980's-obsessed metalheads (I plan to review this one in the not-too-distant future, by the way). When the NWOBHM collecting scene began taking shape in the early-to-mid 1990s, interest for this obscure piece started to peaked, and some dealers came out with strange stories about an even earlier release, issued by the enigmatic BFD label in 1979. A few units were shifted for outlandish prices, but soon the truth of the matter was established: it's in fact another band (named Shaddowfax, with a double D, although it transpires it was a printing error rather than a conscious moniker choice) hailing from Bradford, West Yourkshire and with some sort of musical personality disorder if you ask me.

"Really Into You" is a laid-back tune with some noisy guitar in places, but too firmly rooted to mod / new wave / powerpop ground for most metal tastes, I'm afraid. It seems like it never gets going properly, and the listener is left waiting for a sonic explosion that never occurs. Not too bad, but nothing to write home about if you're not a powerpop addict, and just nothing to do with metal at all. Surprisingly, "Spare Wheel Driver" is a whole different story, both in terms of energy and style of choice. The (pretty cool) main riff definitely screams hard/heavy to my ears, and the overall feeling is not dissimilar to the boogie/biker rock/metal crossover material bands like Vardis and No Faith were writing and performing at roughly the same time. Maybe not the most ingenuous piece of songwriting about a fast-and-furious vehicle ever laid down on vinyl, but still a pretty respectable tune with a lot of replay value.

The disparity of styles is quite odd, and I tend to think this particular Shaddowfax (I'll spell it like this to avoid confusion, OK?) would have made a better choice by pairing "Spare Wheel Driver" with another biker-friendly, upbeat rocker, but what do I know? If you like NWOBHM as much as I do, it may be worth the effort to locate this esoteric 7'' by virtue of the B-side alone, as the backlash of a few unhappy buyers (who wanted to purchase items from the East London band and not some oddball namesakes) dwindled the prices of this particular item quite dramatically, and now it's entirely possible to buy it for a fair-enough amount of cash. Take the 2-star rating with a pinch of salt really, as "Spare Wheel Driver" is well worthy of attention.

As for Shaddowfax, they went as far as to support none other than UFO in 1979, and it seems they also shared a stage with Def Leppard and Saxon, which gives strong indication they were (in heart at least) more of a hard/heavy proposition rather than anything more punk-oriented. Unfortunately, things fizzled out as rapidly as they peaked, and the unlucky four-piece disbanded sometime in 1980. Oddly enough, there's also a (remarkably elusive) CD-R out as well, presumably issued in the early 2000's and pairing the two songs from the single with a third track named "Maybe I'm A Fool". Apparently, this extra song was recorded during the same sessions for the single, which took place at Cargo Studios in Rochdale early in 1979. It looks like something put together by some former band member(s) for old time's sake, but it's not beyond the realms of possibility that it was the work of someone else who just happened to got hold of the original tapes somehow. The fact it is credited as "Shadowfax", with a single D, gives strength to the first option though, as someone who only knew of the single wouldn't be aware it was misspelled after all. Whatever the story, Allan Unnuk is still doing the rounds with a local combo called The Deltas, and efforts are being made to contact him, so perhaps we can all learn a bit more about Shaddowfax's career and offshoot projects. Fingers crossed!

Matti Unnuk (V), Allan Unnuk (G), David Fairfax (B), Roy Klymenko (D).

01. Really Into You 4:08
02. Spare Wheel Driver 3:05

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!


SUPREME WARRIOR (UK) - Treading the Tightrope (7'', Private, 1983)

RATING: ***

This combo, hailing from the towns of Southend and Basildon in Essex UK, are a relatively recent discovery to the collecting scene (more widespread mentions to the band dating from the early 2010's at the very earliest), and even the extremely comprehensive NWOBHM Encyclopedia by Malc McMillan failed to notice the existence of their sole 7'' single, which comes to show just how much of an obscurity they were (and still are). Not surprisingly, there's not a huge deal of info regarding Supreme Warrior to be reported, apart from the songwriting credits to Keith Martin and Phil Kilburn and some snippets of history here and there. They were seemingly a trio, with a drummer who also performed vocal duties (in studio, at least), and pressed around 500 copies of their 1983's "Treading the Tightrope" two-tracker, allegedly selling it only at their live jaunts - that, surprisingly, reached as far as London on two or three occasions. I'm not entirely sure it's all truth, though, as there would presumably be more copies doing the rounds if it was the case (only a small handful ever surfaced, as far as I'm aware) and it would hardly take nearly 30 years for everyone to find out they ever existed. Perhaps most copies were never sold at the time and are now stacked in someone's attic waiting for ardent collectors (that would be really nice BTW), or maybe it all just managed to escape everyone's radar by some bizarre chain of unlucky coincidences, who knows. Whatever the story, it was indeed recorded at (now long gone) RingTrack Studios in Southend-on-Sea and mastered at DeLane Lea Studios in London (yeah, seriously), so it's undoubtedly an artifact from the period in question.

"Treading the Tightrope" is actually quite an unusual piece of songwriting, a mid-paced number with peculiar (not really complex, just slightly off-the-wall) song structure and loquacious (not to say almost verbose) lyrics. It's difficult to provide meaningful points of reference on this one, as it's pretty dissimilar to almost all the other metallic acts of the period. Someone once told me (before I had the chance to listen to the record myself) that the song in question was something like "a heavy metal Steppenwolf", which is quite odd a comparison indeed, but it's not that far off the mark if you ask me - if you keep the "Born to be Wild"-ish Steppenwolf in mind, that is. It reminds me also of some heavier cuts from Jameson Raid ("Titanic" and "Do It the Hard Way", for instance) and maybe Pali Gap's sole 7'' single, but we're still not quite there yet. There's something Phil Lynott-ish on the way the lyrics are sang, but not with the bard-like intonation the Irish rock poet was known for, being more gritty and crude for the most part. The production values are very primitive, with guitars seemingly plugged straight into a sound system from someone's living room or something, and some rough edges in instrumentation are more than evident - but I'd say it actually adds charm to the track rather than weakening its delivery, contributing to the very peculiar impression left by this unique track. I like it actually, and it comes as strong evidence that some truly obscure NWOBHM bands were head to head with the big boys of the scene when it comes to songwriting ingenuity.

"Mad and Cynical" is a more straightforward ditty, carried along by a near omnipresent main riff that is something of a dirty, almost sickening variation on Tygers of Pan Tang's "Suzie Smiled", if such a bizarre comparison makes any sense whatsoever. It has a more street-level attitude than the somewhat figurative A-side, and the song structure is also more easily comprehensible, though there's a bit of tension-building halfway through that one would hardly expect while listening to it for the first time. It doesn't achieve the same levels of musicianship from the very good "Treading the Tightrope", and the rough-and-ready vocal performance doesn't work that much in benefit of the song this time around, but it's a pretty decent song all the same, and repeated listens further enhance Supreme Warrior's position as one of the most worthwhile NWOBHM-era discoveries in recent memory.


No copies of this very elusive piece of wax were ever issued with a picture sleeve as far as I'm aware - I actually saw online a demonic visage embellishing one copy a few years ago, but I'm pretty certain it wasn't part of the original package, most probably being manufactured at a much later date for means of making it look better and/or defraud potential buyers. Supreme Warrior's lifespan seems to have been very short anyway, and I strongly suspect they finally disbanded in less than a year after this 7'' was pressed, as there's precisely zero mentions to any further activities anytime, anywhere. Being realistic, and unless the proverbial box of unplayed copies we all always dream about becomes true in this particular instance, the chances of holding an original copy in your hands are very slim (assuming you don't own one already, that is!), and it would take obscene amounts of moolah to add this one to your collection, so I guess we will all have to do with the mp3 files ripped by some truly enterprising individual (thanks, unknown mate) for the time being. As always, you're more than welcome to drop us a line if you happen to know more about Supreme Warrior, and any help on that matter would be greatly appreciated.

Keith Martin, Phil Kilburn

01. Treading the Tightrope 3:57
02. Mad and Cynical 3:30

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

quinta-feira, 8 de março de 2018

DREQUON'S SPECIAL EDITION: NO NWOBHM HERE, FOLKS! (Volume I)

There was a time, way back in the dim and distant past, when being a serious NWOBHM collector was something of a challenge - not only in terms of money one needed to spend (it's still pretty much a reality, you see), but also (perhaps mostly) for the sheer scarcity of reliable info on many, many obscure outfits and/or their esoteric releases. One of the most unpleasant consequences of such paucity: buying records that, despite being honestly hard-to-find on many occasions, have little or nothing to do with genuinely heavy music. Of course we all have a lot more to lean on these days, and the truth about a number of mistakes and/or deliberate frauds are well reestablished by now. But there's always more to learn about, more info to be gathered and properly explained (and this is what I humbly try to do around here) and, of course, there are always recently-unearthed releases from the early 1980's being added to wants lists all over the world, though in a ever-decreasing rate.

This being a blog devoted most of all to NWOBHM (a spirit that was not that evident in later years, and I wholeheartedly want to recapture in full strength for now on), I think it's funny enough to write some quick commentary about some slices of vinyl that created a considerable deal of confusion among collectors in the past - some still do, actually.  I plan to do such posts regularly, as 1) there's a lot of singles / EPs / albums that fall into the category and 2) I happen to enjoy listening to these, even knowing beforehand of their not-remotely-NWOBHM values. Go figure. Some of such items will get individual entries instead, but the criteria behind such exceptions will be absolutely arbitrary, loosely based on musical merits, interesting or convoluted stories and, most of all, sheer personal taste.

OK, here we go then:

29TH AND DEARBORN (UK) - Baby, Put Your Love in Me (7'', Kramp, 1978) ***
It seems these lads from Liverpool (UK) were quite a popular live attraction in the second half of the 1970's, the sheer energy of their performances being immortalized in a live tape or two you can now hear on YouTube. Still, the only official release of 29th and Dearborn was a white label 7'' single from 1978, supposed to be a promotion for an upcoming album on EMI. The deal fall through before any acetates were made though (I guess the sudden rise of the Sex Pistols have a lot to do with that), and the master tapes of the album are probably forever lost in the mists of time. Listening to the single, it's pretty evident we're not dealing with any pre-NWOBHM act at all, no matter how hard a dealer near you may insist! "Baby, Put Your Love in Me" is a boogie/rock number with high-pitched vocals and a clear intention to make people dance - am I going insane, or there's even a subtle influence of ABBA going on around here? Not bad, but nothing too remarkable either. "Stealer" is somewhat more forceful, though far from being a true heavy metal number. It reminds me of some early songs from Deep Purple and Uriah Heep - without the prominent keyboards, that is. It's a boogie tune with slightly heavier guitar work and reasonably catchy vocal lines, a song that may appeal to some of the more open-minded fans of 70's hard/heavy music. If you're curious about them, there's a fair bit of helpful info on 29th and Dearborn right here. You're welcome!

BANDYLEGS (UK) - Bet You Can't Dance (7'', Jet Records, 1976) **
Those reasonably familiar with the history behind NWOBHM band Quartz probably know the band was operating a few years previously under the Bandy Legs moniker (quite a hopeless name choice, I think). One single were recorded under such a guise (1974's "Ride Ride") before the band decided to change its name slightly to Bandylegs (maybe they though that a single word instead of two would make this truly horrible alias less objectionable, who knows) right before releasing the "Silver Screen Queen" 7'' in 1975. After signing the dotted line for Jet Records, they released a final 7'' ("Bet You Can't Dance" b/w "Circles") in 1976, a slice of vinyl that really helped their fortunes, as they toured with AC/DC and Black Sabbath as a consequence - a move that encouraged them to adopt a more forceful sound and a way better moniker, Quartz. Of course this direct connection renders the Bandylegs singles to be of considerable interest for NWOBHM obsessive completists, but don't go for it thinking you will get anything resembling their 1980's output. "Bet You Can't Dance" is a boogie/rock with (somewhat silly) piano accompaniment and a super-catchy chorus (at least I think they wanted it to be catchy, you know). The guitar work is passable, but there's nothing really good to write about this unspectacular track, a typical desperately-want-to-find-a-hit-single singalong tune like countless hopefuls wrote in droves back in the day. "Circles" is a considerable improvement, a way more forceful rock tune with some nice twin-guitar work in places. This is a song that could have been included in Quartz' repertoire without being too out of place at all, so I'm sure die-hard fans of the group (hey, I know you're still out there) will be willing to buy this 7'' for the sake of this track alone. But it's too early to be a proper NWOBHM release in its own right, and those with only a marginal interest in Quartz are well advised to go for the more usual material of the lads (specially the "Stand Up and Fight" LP) as it's sure more worth your cash.

DORIS (UK) - Sitting Here Waiting (7'', ABCD Records, 1981) ***
Seemingly based somewhere in the outskirts of London, this five-piece have been in the wants lists for a while, with their 7'' single from 1981 being regarded (and shopped around) by some as a sort of NWOBHM long-forgotten classic. Not the case really, but it's actually a very obscure act that made the rounds for two or three years at most, so if fits well enough into the basic criteria to justify a few comments. A double A-side released by ABCD Records (a self-financed affair, by the looks of things), it starts with "Sitting Here Waiting", a semi-ballad carried along by the piano, with the other instruments offering not much more than a discreet background (apart from the emotional guitar solo, that is). It has something of a Queen feel to it I guess, as it reminds me some ballads of their "The Game" period, though surely not achieving quite the same levels of finesse. It's very close to the 1960's pop rock revival many British bands were attempting at the time, though it's still reasonably rooted to rock music and not veering into new romantic territory. Not bad, but surely no metal at all. "Living Danger", on the other hand, starts a lot like the more contemplative moments of the Roger Waters-era Pink Floyd: though surely not a case of unashamed pilfering (Queensrÿche got way closer of copyright infringement with "Silent Lucidity", you know), its first half reminds me strongly of "Comfortably Numb" and, to a lesser extent, "Wish You Were Here". Suddenly, things change completely, and the instrumental section brings some prominent synths to the table, building a crescendo that explodes into a (pretty good) guitar solo. Now that's a good enough song with a much stronger potential when it comes to pleasing headbangers, though it's not NWOBHM at all: we're into progressive rock waters (no pun intended) here, so any collectors must be aware only broad-minded listeners will be able to fully appreciate it. The lads (now naming themselves A Band Called Doris, for reasons best known by themselves) would go as far as releasing a full-length LP the following year ("Gypsy Lady"), but I didn't give it a listen just yet, so I won't be able to enlighten you good people into what's it all about, although some reviews tend to label it as a prog rock effort as well. I'll let you know when it happens. Incidentally, the catalog numbers of the band's known releases (ABCD-1 and ABCD-3) are strong indication that there may be something else out there, perhaps a promo-only release or a test pressing that never made it into wider circulation, who knows? Whatever the story, Doris is a borderline act at best (though a pretty decent one, I might add), so proceed with caution if all you want is tr00 metal and nothing else, as it will cost a fair amount of money (half a month's salary, in the case of the very scarce LP) to add the group to your collection.

BUCKSHEE (UK) - Soap (7'', Squid Marks Time, 1981) ***
This sole 7'' by Buckshee (a band from somewhere in Suffolk, I'd wager) is receiving a bit of belated interest in recent years, as it was released by Squid Marks Time, the same label that edited the very seldom seen "So You Think We're All Farmers..." LP in 1981, a local-band compilation that includes a handful of NWOBHM acts (I'm trying to get this one, so if you happen to have it, please let me know). Actually, one of the songs featured on the band's single ("Soap") also made an appearance on the aforementioned sample, adding to the curiosity around the mysterious combo. But if you're reading this up to this point, I guess it won't come as much of a surprise to be informed that Buckshee isn't a NWOBHM band at all: it's post-punk / power pop music with female vocals, with not a single metallic riff or chorus to be found. "Soap" is the most interesting song on display, being actually pretty good on what it tries to achieve: the song structure is very inventive, the playful, catchy vocal lines are fairly engaging, and the keyboard accompaniment is discreet and doesn't spoil the fun at all. It would actually be a good cover choice for many punk/HC bands of today, so take note if you happen to be involved with one such outfit! "Strangled Love" is more typical punk rock (no keyboards to be found), pretty much recycling the same guitar pattern from the previous track and with a more rudimentary, let's-sing-the-name-of-the-track-along-and-not-much-else approach that doesn't work very well when compared to the way more accomplished A-side. I'm afraid this minor piece of exposure was the sole claim to fame for the group, and I think it's a bit of a shame, as "Soap" shows some genuine promise that just needed a more widespread distribution to flourish into something else. There was also a certain Bukkshee doing the rounds in the UK roughly at the same time, and getting as far as to release two (both undated) 7'' singles, but it was an all-male 5-piece with definitely glam looks, so I suspect it's a entirely unrelated ensemble (if you have any info on that, by the way, I kindly invite you to drop us a line).

STRAY (UK) - This One's For You (EP, Ratsy, 1981) ***
To close this first installment of the series, a release that sure does sound like NWOBHM, but can't be taken as such without making considerable concessions. I mean, "This One's For You", the main focus of attention on this 7'' EP, presents all the requirements to make a NWOBHM addict happy: the twin-guitar riffing, the simple-but-very-effective song structure, the catchy melodies, the high-pitched vocals, the tight (even if not very inventive) rhythm section... It's all there really. But Stray were doing the rounds for nearly 15 years, their first LP dating from as early as 1970. The classic rock combo originally disbanded around 1977, and this particular slice of vinyl came out in 1981, when some of the original members were trying to rekindle the group's fire with the sparks of NWOBHM. Some thought for a while that this 7'', given its considerable scarcity and different-looking logo on the label, was most probably recorded by another Stray, blissfully unaware of their long-running namesakes - not to mention some catalogues listing the band as Ratsy, perhaps using the label as an excuse to pass it out as an impossibly rare item from a mysterious bunch of musicians... But reports of copies being bought by fans during a tour the revived Londoners made with Saga in 1981 finally disproved this theory, establishing the truth of the matter once and for all. Treating this EP as a bona fide NWOBHM release is, therefore, as inadequate as citing, say, Budgie's "Power Supply" or Atomic Rooster 1980's eponymous album as NWOBHM collectables. Not that you shouldn't buy any of these if you feel like doing it, of course. Despite being a strong track (way more forceful than the rather redundant, only mildly interesting "Need Your Love" and "Wide-Eyed Girl" B-sides), "This One's For You" wasn't enough to help the band's fortunes in the long run, and Stray faded out of the public eye once again in a matter of months - although guitarist Del Bromham, helped by a myriad of different musicians, kept using the Stray name on a series of sporadic live outings through the years, with gigs being booked in as late as 2016.

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

quarta-feira, 7 de março de 2018

Colours of the Bastard Art! (Compilation, UK, Lost Moment, 1984?)

RATING: **

When NWOBHM aficionados started to look for local-band compilations in order to unearth some seriously obscure metal (a phenomenon that didn't really take over until at least the late 1990's), every purchase would be pretty much a step in the dark, as no one really knew what was out there. Some LPs have a fair proportion of heavy metal hopefuls, while others, well, simply don't. The bizarrely-titled "Colours of the Bastard Art!" is one of those who doesn't offer much, though it became slightly more well-regarded among collectors in recent years. Assembled by Lost Moment as an "alternative collection" to showcase bands already signed with the label, this slice of vinyl is not explicitly dated, but it's reasonable to assume it came out in late 1984 or sometime the following year, judging by the parallel chronologies of many acts who contributed to this sample. Most of the tracks here featured are far removed from the usual NWOBHM ethos, so there's not much reason to delve into an exhaustive analysis of the album's contents, though I still think it's worth dropping a few lines about it for history's sake.

If all you're looking for are the heavier acts and you couldn't care less about the rest of the pack, I'd suggest you to go straight to Orion's "Storm", as it's (sorry to say, but it's true) the only band truly worthy of the NWOBHM tag. It's a very different take from what appeared (supposedly) earlier on their "Insane in Another World" 7'' single from 1984, with a less grandiose, more down-to-earth production and mix, not to mention a much more punchy (and interesting) vibe. Labeling Orion's music as total Queen worship is one of the most facile descriptions I'll ever write in my life, but it's inescapable nonetheless, as the feeling of being listening to a "Flash Gordon" leftover track (as Malc McMillan already pointed out in his NWOBHM encyclopedia) is too strong to be ignored. They somehow even managed to make all guitar histrionics sound very similar to Brian May himself, which comes to show just how committed they were to the cause. It's all very upbeat and catchy anyway, and it's always heartwarming to hear such a young ensemble making serious efforts to write sophisticated heavy music, so I guess most NWOBHM fans are likely to enjoy listening to this one.

Though the percentage of bona fide British metal is nearly nonexistent around here, it's not like all other tracks included should be mercilessly scratched with a pen knife or something. Sugar Glyders is perhaps the second best of the lot, with their "Jericho" contribution being a reasonably adventurous piece of songwriting with pretty decent vocals and a nice chorus to match. They were surely an act with originality in mind, and this particular track reminds me of Charlie 'Ungry a little (most of all their "Preacher" tune), which is decent enough praise in my book. Not very heavy (even a bit lightweight actually, most of all in the guitar department), but still a dynamic, charming song that may be of interest for broad-minded hard/heavy enthusiasts.

Silent Rage's "Psychiatrist", on the other hand, captures the listener's attention by conjuring a peculiarly disturbing feel through most of the track, thanks to a tension-building use of keyboards and considerably busy (not to say borderline metallic) guitar work. It's new wave/post punk in all its glory, readers take note, but it's also a pretty decent attempt to write a song about mental disturbance, so I reckon it deserves at least a modicum of attention. The Shout! is also passable, I guess, with their "I'll Be Your Hero" number being a considerably catchy and pretty straightforward punk rock that doesn't overstay its welcome, which is already a thing to appreciate if you ask me. Nothing you haven't heard countless times before, that's for sure (they even employ the obligatory fake Cockney accents, you see), but still OK. Our final entry for the not-truly-memorable-but-also-not-that-bad file, Mex brings "Don't Go Looking For Love" to the tracklist, featuring some hard-rocking guitars and a sleazy chorus that reminds me of none other than Silverwing - an unexpected state of affairs when you consider their underground cult status as post-punk/art rock pioneers. An odd one for sure, but worth a listen.

Despite its minor moments of interest, most of "Colours of the Bastard Art!" is far from impressive to be honest, with Nerve X (unspectacular new wave with quirky horn arrangements and slightly reminiscent of the most oddball moments of The Clash), Johnny Seven (pop rock with female vocals and feather-weight guitar work), Skin Side Out (new wave with B-52's-style vocal melodies and a bizarre - and not very functional - song structure), The Red (alternative rock with very little to write home about, sorry about that), Wandering Souls (ditto, but at least they tried to liven things up with an ill-fated, percussion-lead interlude) and Pleasure in Pink (generic pop/rock with tons of female vocal harmonies and a strong cabaret feel) all lacking enough distinctive features to stand out in the crowd. Similarly, Sleeping Pictures tries their luck with a atmospheric new wave/indie rock in "Hit the Deck", a song filled to the brim with very VERY prominent keyboards that are just a little too pretentious for its own good. To round things off, Jesus Couldn't Drum (what an awful band name) was supposedly regarded as the brightest hope in Lost Moment's roster at the time, being the only act allowed to contribute with two tracks. The semi-acoustic indie rock in "Growl Growl" is mostly passable, but "Apple Pie for Tea" is complete shambles, a bizarre sort of jokey number that is easily the worst track on the entire LP.

As above stated, most acts on this compilation had already released (or were about to release) individual items via Lost Moment, some with ongoing careers started many years previously, so it wasn't really a case of putting promising unsigned acts together in the first place. Nevertheless, it's worth pointing out that nearly all participants disappeared from the scene in a matter of two years or less, with some combos (such as the unlucky Orion) biting the dust just a few months after the album hit the shelves. As far as I'm aware, only Mex really lasted the distance, acting mostly as a (very obscure) studio project and unleashing some original numbers in as late as 2014. Jesus Couldn't Drum had a best-of CD out in the early 2000's, but kept quiet ever since, and I'm afraid that's pretty much it when it comes to (ahem) successful stories. "Colours of the Bastard Art!" is not as impossibly rare as other artifacts from the era, with a reasonable number of units known to have survived the years, but still I think that only the most unwavering NWOBHM collectors will really want to have it, no matter how relatively simple it is to locate a copy.




01. SILENT RAGE - Psychiatrist
02. JOHNNY SEVEN - Danger Money
03. NERVE X - The Caller
04. JESUS COULDN'T DRUM - Growl Growl
05. PLEASURE IN PINK - Dead Dolphins
06. ORION - Storm
07. THE SHOUT! - I'll Be Your Hero
08. SLEEPING PICTURES - Hit the Deck
09. THE RED - Call it Art
10. WANDERING SOULS - Change
11. SKIN SIDE OUT - Swallow Me Up
12. SUGAR GLYDERS - Jericho
13. MEX - Don't Go Looking for Love
14. JESUS COULDN'T DRUM - Apple Pie for Tea

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!