Album Reviews (Nov 3, 2014)

Here’s a few short reviews…

Whiplash – Insult To Injury (1989)

WhiplashOne of the better thrash albums to come out in 1989 was Whiplash’s Insult To Injury.  The band’s third release was their first as a four-piece — with Glenn Hansen coming on board to relieve Tony Portaro of vocal duties (Portaro had previously handled both guitar and vocals).  Switching from the harsh barking of Portaro to the clean singing of Hansen was a HUGE upgrade for Whiplash.  This new addition added a much-needed melodic element to Whiplash’s mayhemic mosh madness.  All the while Whiplash continued to thrash away at high velocity, showing a tremendous amount of technical prowess in the process.  There isn’t as single bum track on this whole album!  My score: A-

Stormwitch – Eye Of The Storm (1989)

StormwitchWhen Stormwitch first debuted in 1984 they dressed like Judas Priest and sounded like Iron Maiden.  By the end of the decade their leather n’ bullet gear had given way to baroque period digs.  Their sound had changed drastically, too.  Unfortunately, much of Eye Of The Storm barely qualifies as heavy metal.  Stormwitch softened their sound considerably, and also abandoned their trademark horror/fantasy lyrics (something that had made them relatively unique).  As Stormwitch went into this much more melodic, commercial direction — so too went their charm.  My score: C

McAuley Schenker Group – Perfect Timing (1987)

MSGWhat happened when rock vets Michael Schenker and Robin McAuley joined forces?  Not much, actually.  This album is surprisingly… blah.  It’s not a bad album by any means, it’s just that, in this case, the whole is NOT greater than the sum of its parts.  I am a big fan of The Michael Schenker Group.  The stuff MSG put out between ’81 and ’83 was outstanding.  As for McAuley, I loved his performance on Grand Prix’s Samurai album (1983).  But when the two got together for Perfect Timing, my expectations were not met.  Schenker’s guitars inexplicably took a back seat in the mix.  Instead, those stiff, echo-y ’80s drums dominated.  MSG could have rocked harder.  The songs themselves were a little too commercial, a little too bland.  My score: B-

Cirith Ungol – One Foot In Hell (1986)

Cirith UngolWeird band, this Cirith Ungol.  One Foot In Hell was the band’s third album, and my third attempt to try to like Cirith Ungol.  The conclusion?  I do not like Cirith Ungol.  The best thing about the Cirith Ungol albums?  The covers were always kick-ass.  The music?  Negatron.  They have their fans, yes they do.  But don’t believe the hype.  Unless you like shabby recordings with lousy singing and groove-less drumming?  If so, step right up.  Sonic description?  Kind of doomy.  Vaguely psychedelic.  Not good.  My score: C-

 Saraya – Saraya (1989)

SarayaSaraya was a female-fronted AOR/hard rock band that debuted in 1989 with this self-titled album.  The album was over-produced to the point of rigor mortis in that unfortunate late eighties style (see also House Of Lords).  Saraya were in search of the lucrative Bon Jovi niche that eluded pretty much every band that tried.  The wrinkle here was Sandi Saraya, one of only a few female vocalists in the hair/AOR market place.  Two singles charted from Saraya — Love Has Taken Its Toll (easily the best song on here) and Back To The Bullet (the second best).  Otherwise, the album is fairly average, and somewhat forgettable.  Again, the glossy production severely neutering the album’s impact.  Saraya limps to a finish with a lousy cut called Drop The Bomb.  My score: C+

Chastain – The Voice Of The Cult (1988)

ChastainIn 1988, David T. Chastain was still shitting out albums at a hurried rate.  (Mind you, Chastain was just one of the three projects David had going on at the time!)  Anyway, The Voice Of The Cult is pretty much a continuation of The 7th Of Never (1987).  Same players, new year.  And once again, everyone is throwing haymakers!  While David was blazing away on his axe, Leather Leone was over-singing her heart out, and Ken Mary was over-drumming like a freak.  So who was actually holding down the fort?  You know… the songs?  I guess they never really thought of that.  My score: C

Kings Of The Sun – Full Frontal Attack (1990)

Kings Of The SunYes!  Another bona fide scorcher from Kings Of The Sun!  This Australian band were following in the hard rock footsteps of Australian legends like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, and most notably, The Angels.  The sound was raw, lean, unpretentious, and devoid of vanity.  While many a band were strutting around like peacocks in 1990, KOS were plugging a live wire straight into the beating heart of rock n’ roll!  Drummer Clifford Hoad annihilated his drum kit with another monster performance.  Meanwhile, his brother Jeffrey delivered his vocals with plenty of wit and charm.  Full Frontal Assault is most definitely one of the lost gems of 90’s hard rock!  Choice cuts — Howling Wind and Overdrive.  My score: A

Liege Lord – Burn To My Touch (1987)

Liege LordTo me, Liege Lord’s second album Burn To My Touch (Metal Blade Records) is no more than a poor man’s Ample Destruction (by Jag Panzer).  Though Liege Lord’s heart was in the right place, their songs were just too erratic for my taste.  Erratic singing.  Erratic drumming.  The various mid-song tempo changes (both intentional and unintentional) leave the songs sounding very jagged.  This lack of “flow” really makes Burn To My Touch a frustrating listen.  (Note: Compare the album cover to Fates Warning’s Awaken The Guardian.  Both were painted by the same artist.)  My score: C

Dio – Dream Evil (1987)

DioDio’s fourth full-length LP.  Each one a little worse than the one before it.  By 1987, it seems Ronnie James Dio was completely out of ideas.  Lyrically, Dream Evil is just leftovers reheated in the microwave.  Even a new guitarist couldn’t breathe some life into Dio’s falling star.  As far as I’m concerned, I get all the Dio I need from Holy Diver (1983) and The Last In Line (1984).  My score: C

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5 thoughts on “Album Reviews (Nov 3, 2014)

  1. Wow, you’ve awaken something that was stored away in the remote corners of my brain. I remember some of these albums and will have to dig them out again. I always painted Saraya as a wannabe Heart. There is some resemblance between the two. The two songs you picked are the best on the album but I’ve always liked “St Christopher’s Medal” as well.

  2. I’m always impressed by your reviews. You say a lot in a few words. Excellent stuff. I had been meaning to check out Cirith Ungol actually… I still might. Although you didn’t dig them your description appeals to me!

  3. I kinda like Cirith Ungol. A friend had one of the Metal Blade compilations in early 80’s with Fighting Backwards. They were just unpolished but catchy enough for me.

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