Album Reviews (1985) vol. 4

Short reviews from 1985…

Sweet Pain – Sweet Pain

Sweet PainSweet Pain was a one album band with a punkish ‘tude and an affinity for sleazoid glam.  Astonishingly, the Sweet Pain album was released by Combat Records, a label not associated with the glam scene whatsoever.  The Sweet Pain album is kind of a bad-on-purpose, half-assed attempt at L.A. sewer metal.  Pretty much just stupid, rowdy fun — complete with ‘out-of-tune-and-I-don’t-care’ vocals.  A worthwhile listen actually, but well-short of a genre classic.  Seems like these guys wanted nothing more than to get wasted and shoot their rocks off.  Fair enough.  My score: C+

Maineeaxe – Going For Gold

MaineeaxeThese York dudes had a really fine debut a year earlier with Shout It Out.  Here they are in 1985 with the follow-up, Going For Gold (Powerstation Records).  Sometime during the interim, Maineeaxe added a fifth member, guitarist Grant Kirkhope, who contributed significantly to the writing for the Going For Gold album.  This album is much heavier than the grinning idiots on the cover would have you believe.  At times, Maineeaxe really remind me of the unhinged metal maniacs Raven, though thankfully without the spaz vocals of that Raven guy.  I think Going For Gold falls shy of Shout It Out‘s level of awesomeness, mostly because it is less varied and the hooks aren’t as memorable.  That said, the title track is kick-ass!  My score: B-

Steel Angel – … And The Angels Were Made Of Steel

Steel AngelBullet-belt metal from France!  … And The Angels Were Made Of Steel was the first of two albums by Steel Angel.  The album was released by the French label Devil’s Records, the same label that originally released the French metal masterpiece Metamorphose by Sortilege.  This bears mentioning because Steel Angel’s style was similar to Sortilege’s style.  Though I don’t think … And The Angels Were Made Of Steel is quite the melodic tour de force as Steel Angel’s sophomore album Kiss Of Steel (1986), I do enjoy this album’s crisp, straightforward riffing and epic atmosphere.  Singer Patrice Monteiro can be a little much at times, bordering on unintentional comedy with his vocal theatrics.  His flair for the (over)dramatic may take a few listens to get used to.  Faves here include the soaring title track and the driving (yet lamenting) Warrior.  My score: B

Helix – Long Way To Heaven

HelixSame Helix, different day.  Long Way To Heaven wasn’t much different from Helix’s previous couple of interchangeable party platters.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  With Helix, simplicity was the key.  These Canadians were more than happy to serve up sweaty, blown out raunch n’ roll with an emphasis on hollered choruses and lyrical clichés.  Take, for example, the song Ride The Rocket.  (I’ll give you a hint, the “rocket” is a big ol’ veiny penis.)  A Helix record is about immediate hooks — hooks that become somewhat disposable after a few listens.  That is to say, there’s no need to dissect Long Way To Heaven like one would a Dark Side Of The Moon or Led Zeppelin IV.  My score: B-

Hurricane – Take What You Want

HurricaneFlood gates open, California was shitting out hair bands faster than you can say “spandex” in the year 1985.  Take Hurricane for example, a Cali band with blood ties to Quiet Riot and the wherewithal to put a nice pair of juicy cans on the cover of their debut record.  The sound was polite glam with an AOR twist.  Take What You Want was a six-track mini-LP (the cassette added a seventh cut, an instrumental called La Luna).  The opening salvo, Take Me In Your Arms, sets a pretty high bar that the remaining tracks can’t reach.  In total, Take What You Want is a less than revelatory, but well-intentioned stab at MTV accessibility.  Vocalist Kelly Hansen’s does his best to cut through a rather stiff recording.  My score: C+

Midnight Darkness – Holding The Night

Midnight DarknessLike many German metal bands of the day, Midnight Darkness greets you with jack hammer riffs, raging vocals, and pummeling drums.  Glam tendencies are spit upon, and extreme metal virtues are ignored by Midnight Darkness in favor of good old fashion steel-hearted heavy metal.  Think of bands like Gravestone or Veto, and you’ll have a good idea of where Midnight Darkness’ head was at.  No complaints here.  Just eight tracks of skull throttling old-school Teutonia with decent hooks and neck wrecking grooves.  Can’t say there are any true gems to be found, but the consistency is more than enough to drive this one home.  Nice productions as well.  Sad truth: Holding The Night (Hot Blood Records) was the only album released by Midnight Darkness.  My score: B

Manilla Road – Open The Gates

Manilla RoadThe Kansas warlocks of Manilla Road returned in 1985 with another maelstrom of netherworld metal.  Open The Gates was Manilla Road’s follow-up to what many consider to be their career best album, Crystal Logic.  This time, Mark Shelton led his trio of wizards deeper into the shadows with a heavier sound and an even darker atmosphere.  Grim tales serenade you as you float down the river Styx with Mark and crew.  Shelton spins tales of silver moons and fiery mazes with a seriousness that borders on comedic.  One of my quibbles with Open The Gates is the performance of new drummer, Randy Foxe.  The man was a fill machine, and his busy drumming tends to distract and, at times, annoy.  Check out the (egregiously long) Ninth Wave, where Foxe’s drumming can be mistaken for a kettle of corn popping away.  Another quibble would be the incessant soloing of Shelton — solos that lack meaning or emotion, and sound more like free-form wack-offs than anything else.  I liked Crystal Logic quite a bit, but it pains me to say that most of Open The Gates is just burdensome.  Metalstrom and Astronomica being two notable exceptions.  My score: C+


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