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8:37 a.m. - July 08, 2006
My Face, It Has Been Rocked
Hello? Can you speak up, please?

Ah, yes, I’ve been damaging my ears for this past week.

The grand Empress Eve has bestowed upon me a great, fantastic mix of classic heavy metal from the 80’s. And not just any metal, and not (thank goodness) the hair band ‘metal’ either, but honest to god METAL, mainly thrash metal, that was just starting to peek its ugly little head out of the underground in the 80’s.

Here is her entry about the mix, and now I am going to review said mix.

Back when this stuff was out, I wasn’t privy to much of it, at all. I really didn’t have access to a lot of it, and my college crowd was really into the college music of the day and punk rock, not metal. I missed the boat, here, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Let me say this – some of this stuff now sounds cliché-ridden and formulaic, mainly because it is NOW formulaic, but then, it was cutting edge and vibrant. So I did my best to get my mind beyond the, “Oh, yeah, here’s this part and they’ll definitely go to a solo now” and try to get at the root of the song as it stands on its own. But a lot of this stuff doesn’t fall into that category. It’s definitely unique, even now.

That’s enough of that malarkey. So, let’s start revewin’:

1. Hit The Lights – Metallica. I had this already, and it is an appropriate opening, being as it’s the first cut of the first Metallica record Kill ‘Em All. It’s probably my fourth or fifth favorite cut on the album, but I couldn’t picture the record starting any other way. The funny thing is how YOUNG James Hetfield sounds. Well, yeah, he was only an acne-scarred kid, but still…

2. Piranha – Exodus. Nice impressive riffage – which is the key to all metal. If you don’t have the riff, you may as well pack your gear and go home. The only issue I have with this tune is the vocals. I’m not a vocal purist, at all, but these vocals just sound odd to me, and it detracts from the good riffage contained therein. This may or may not be a keeper on the iPod (I’m leaning toward keeper, but I have to get settled about the vocals).

3. Into The Crypt of Rays – Celtic Frost. Katie was really dancing around to this, saying, “This is crazy music!” This is definitely a keeper. I’ve always heard great things about Celtic Frost. They definitely are showing a rhythmic punk rock influence in the bass work and the drumming during the main sections. When Moose was in town, I played this for him and asked, “Am I crazy, or do I hear a bit of Minor Threat in this?” The answer was no, that I’m not crazy at all! You gotta crank this mother up!

4. Metal Church – Metal Church. Ah, another band to add to our list of “bands that named a song after themselves” with the bonus of naming an eponymous album after themselves as well. This is taken at a slower tempo than some of the songs on this disc, meaning that it’s not going 149,212 beats per minute, but it riffs hard and fast and is definitely a keeper.

5. Warlord – Manowar. One thing that may keep this off the iPod is the ‘skit’ at the beginning, which really breaks up shuffle continuity. Now, having seen a Manowar video from their much later days, and not really being knocked over by them, I was skeptical about its inclusion here. Yet, Eve has done no wrong, as this song is definitely a hard rockin’ good time. It’s more traditional metal, not thrashy, but definitely hard.

6. Well Of Souls – Candlemass. Big time Black Sabbath homage here. Featuring slow, powerful, crunchy riffs and a powerful vocalist that doesn’t delve into formula yet forges his own style, this song is almost everything you want in metal, even at a lumbering tempo. Sometimes you don’t have to gallop at breakneck speed to win the race.

7. Into The Pit – Testament. Back to the thrash. While this one was definitely not without its merits, it seemed just standard rote thrash metal, though there’s nothing really wrong with that.

8. Evil – Mercyful Fate. Ah, King Diamond! You can’t help but recognize his wail, can you? They were more influential than popular (mainly because they self-destructed so early in their career) but really this is an excellent example of the move to metal a couple of steps beyond Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but not to out and out thrash. Powerful stuff!

9. Metal Storm / Face The Slayer – Slayer. Having selections from three Slayer albums on my iPod, I knew what I was getting into here. This is early Slayer, but the sound and the song construction is there to my ears (if not the tempo yet). Of course, I always liked Slayer better when they were at ¾ speed, and not at full scale hyperspeed, but I just like to appreciate the riffage.

10. Critical Mass – Nuclear Assault. I like the heavy bottom of the bass here, and the riffage is excellent. I do appreciate the social awareness of the band as well, but I’m not bowled over by the vocals, which limits the overall sonic impact, I’m afraid.

11. Holier – Corrosion of Comformity. First, I love the name! I am familiar with later COC stuff, but this is revelatory, as it’s a lot more thrashy and punky than the later stuff. There seemed to be a lot of potential here, even among the murky sound of this one, but from what I have read the band had a notoriously tough time in hanging together.

12. Iron Tears – Flotsam & Jetsam. It definitely sounds like they could have been contenders. This one has the riffs, and the sound, that could have made them big on the scene. They also kept losing bassists, first Jason Newstead of Metallica, then Troy Gregory to Prong.

13. Electro-Violence – Overkill. This one also seems to be standard issue thrash metal, which again, there’s nothing really wrong with, but it doesn’t seem to stand out in my ears. The riffs are decent, but the gang vocals and the tempo changes all seem rote, a bit. Maybe it’s because I’m jaded and heard it all before, even THOUGH I’m not supposed to have, really when I’m reviewing this. I do like the little mid tempo bit before the guitar solo, though, and I think the song may be growing on me a bit.

14. Fata Morgana – Fates Warning. This is quite an interesting one, as it takes a lot of metal and a bit of prog rock and mixes it all up into quite an interesting stew. Not super thrashy, but still the tempo is pretty high and the changes put it almost in that category. It’s pretty undefineable, really, except as kick butt.

15. Chaosmongers – Voivod. There’s a lot of interesting things swirling around this one, with a lot of changes in key and tempo, and some odd chord structures during the verses. They’re definitely not playing it safe with this song. Some would call this sprawling, and unfocused, but I think it’s most interesting.

16. Medusa – Anthrax. I’m also familiar with some Anthrax, and now that Scott Ian is a VH-1 whore they’re probably more famous than they were in the 80’s. But they really could rock and this makes me wonder if I really need to amp up the Anthrax collection of my iPod a bit, especially with Joey Belladonna on vocals.

17. Diamonds And Rust – Stormtroopers of Death. Ah, hah. An extremely (:03 I think) brief cover version. Myself, I prefer the Minutemen’s cover of “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” when it comes to insanely short cover versions.

18. United Forces – Stormtroopers of Death. From what I read, this was a one-off joke band that was a combo of Anthrax and Nuclear Assault. This does rock pretty darn hard, and I think when they really wanted to, this combo of players could have kicked serious booty. Even when they go breakneck, there’s enough clarity that the song isn’t lost in the speed.

19. Wake Up Dead – Megadeth. Now, I appreciate Megadeth on several levels, yet I had a couple of albums by them and they didn’t really move me, not like Slayer or Metallica or Anthrax. I really don’t know if it’s Mustaine’s vocals, or the clinical precision that seemed to suck out the soul of many of the songs, or what, but I just never got into Megadeth like I did others from this genre. Does this make me a bad person, really?

Wow! What a collection! All I can say is that my face is definitely rocked off, for sure! This was a definite winner, Eve! Thank you and thank you and thank you again!


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