Satan! Is there a better band name than Satan? Gets right to the point, no bull shit. I like the cut of their jib. Satan debuted with Court In The Act on Roadrunner Records (also Neat Records and Metal Blade Records). This album shows a real progression of the prototypical NWOBHM sound into a more technically agile direction. Simply put, Court In The Act is a blazing heavy metal album. The guitar duo of Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins made an excellent case for themselves as upper echelon heavy metal guitarists for their time. There are tons of riffs, fills, and leads to get ya all boned up. With furious but controlled speed and plenty of catchy melodies, Court In The Act finds itself in that rarefied air where speed, power, and catchiness come together perfectly. Well, almost perfectly. You see, the production on Court In The Act pretty much blows. All the instruments seem to bleed together, and the final product sounds cheap and soupy. Brian Ross’ vocal track sounds like it was recorded over the phone. That’s another thing, Ross (ex-Blitzkrieg) is really no better than an average vocalist. His milquetoast delivery doesn’t do justice to the knockout tunes on Court In The Act (in my opinion).
Despite my two quibbles, Court In The Act remains one of my favorite NWOBHM albums of ’83. Indeed, it may be one of the most cutting edge albums of that year, along with stuff like Mercyful Fate’s Melissa and Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All. Killer tracks include Trial By Fire and Blades Of Steel. The latter tune is NOT about the old Nintendo hockey game that torched my thumbs to a point of uselessness back in the day (although that would be awesome). It’s actually about marauding vikings doing their viking things (rape and pillage, perhaps?).
Despite the band’s blasphemous name, Satan’s lyrics were not concerned with occult themes. In fact, the name became somewhat of an albatross for the band. Several name changes were ahead for these guys. The next time we heard from them they had a new singer and were called Blind Fury (see review of that album here).
The bottom line is that Satan’s Court In The Act had all the makings of a metal milestone, but any possibility of such an impact was likely stopped in its tracks by a production job that may be the suckiest suck that ever sucked. CD re-issues add three bonus cuts, including the “single version” of the kick-ass Break Free. My score: B+