Noise Records 1985
I had no idea that Noise Records made forays into the realms of hard rock... I assumed it was all Kreator, Hellhammer and the like, but this EP proved me wrong. Since none of us have ever heard of BALLANTINEZ, it's safe to assume that this wasn't one of Noise's best sellers... and I have an idea why: take a look at these dudes. Jesus! This is a homely band... and their brand of moderately heavy Metal is almost as unattractive. To their credit, BALLANTINEZ are distinctly German, retaining the obligatory ACCEPT influence and mixing it with a more straight up rock sound. First track "Hello" is just as dumb as you'd expect an album opener with that name to be, and is followed up by their heaviest offering: "In Chains", which is full of up-tempo double bass, extended guitar runs, and a TANK-ish opening riff. "Storm Will Be Rising" closes the proceedings on high note of SAGA inspired keyboard/guitar interplay, and the chorus is pretty awesome "Hey hey hey! You see the storm will be rising". "Charged" doesn't completely suck, but it's a good indication of why these guys didn't release any more records.
DOWNLOAD: Ballantinez - Charged.rar (40.24 MB)
Noise Records 1985
1140 Queen St. East
After my first trip to Discovery Records, I was totally prepared for a bad review. As far as I'm concerned, any store that doesn't have a Metal section is a waste of time - I have neither the patience or the inclination to sort through hundreds of shitty LPs in the hope that I might find a gem. First time I walked away with 2 BLACK ANGELS records that are both in good shape... too bad the band is boring (reviews to come). So obviously I had no burning desire to ever return to Discovery Records, but out of boredom (basically the same reason I keep this blog - whoop!!!) I checked their webpage for new arrivals... and holy shit if they didn't have a bunch of good metal! So I headed back to the East end. Guy behind the counter was unresponsive and unfriendly (didn't bother me cuz it's worse when they wanna talk to you about shitty records - or anything else - that you don't care about). I headed straight for the New Arrivals bin... and there they all were: two COBRA records, HEAVY LOAD and PRETTY MAIDS EPs, and a WITCH CROSS LP. There were others I wanted to grab too, but the surly guy was unwilling to haggle with me over the prices, so I had to put 'em back - no big loss, just some third rate generic thrash. Discovery is slightly over-priced, but each of the records I picked up are either in good or near mint shape, however they had a MANTAS record and the vinyl was really fucked up, and they're asking $10... it's worth $3 at the most. Alright, so this place is off the shitlist, but I'll have to wait and see if they continue to bring in good records. PROS: webpage that is updated every couple of weeks, so you don't have to go and waste you time at the store, some rare finds CONS: no Metal section, they don't budge on sticker price, slightly over-priced
Screamin' Skull Records 1989
I'm starting to think that my timeline is all fucked up, cuz I always seem to think that bands were behind the times. This was released in '89 and it sounds like something that shoulda come out in '84 or '85. For christ sake... in 1989 VOIVOD released "Nothingface", MORBID ANGEL put out "Altars Of Madness", thrash was still at the top of the heap... and then you have PIERCE. In fairness, it's not like PIERCE existed in some kinda vacuum, cuz you can hear heavier influences here and there, but mainly their sound is a mix of TT QUICK-esque metal and West Coast cock rock. Kind of an awkward position for a band to be in: not a total commercial sell-out, but also not heavy enough for underground fans. PIERCE were a solid band writing catchy songs ranging from the painfully commercial "Tell Me You're In Love", to the balls-out metal of "Run Silent Run Deep". There's a song called "Metal Head Dolls", and no it's not about your "...And Justice For All" playset, but apparently these dolls blow too (it's actually one of my favourite songs on the record - but I'm a sucker for tubular bells). The production is a low rent attempt at that big 80's sound - there's enough reverb on the snare drum for 10 WINGER records (thank good those never happened!). If I had heard this record when it was released I woulda hated it, but in hindsight it's an enjoyable listen from a decent commercial Metal band.
DOWNLOAD: Pierce - Pierce.rar (67.84 MB)
I Hate Records 2003
I first heard STILLBORN on the Rise Above Records compilation DARK PASSAGES, where their blend of Rock, Metal, and Doom made them stand out head-and-shoulders above the rest. Soon after, I picked up what I thought was their first record, 1991's "The Permanent Solution", and absolutely loved it too. I had no idea that they had been around for so long prior to their DARK PASSAGES appearance: in '85 they released a demo called "Tounge The Thong" and in '89, the "Necrospirituals" full length. In recent years I had all but forgotten about STILLBORN 'til I saw "Necrospirituals" posted on Good Bad Music... it's an awesome album that I highly recommend you download! So, while scouring eBay a few weeks ago, I came across this little gem: the "Yesterdays Blood" 7". It's made up of one song from from "Tounge The Thong", and another from a pre-"Necrospirituals" demo. These tracks are way more Goth than the band's later material, mixing monotonous rhythms with baritone vocals (like SISTERS OF MERCY maybe), and simple, BLACK SABBATHy guitar playing. The difference between the band that recorded these tracks and the "Necrospirituals" album is huge - both their playing and songwriting had improved immensely by the time the LP was released. This is a neat record, and it's it's very cool to hear some of their earliest material, but it's just a bit too monotonous for my taste.
DOWNLOAD: Stillborn - Yesterdays Blood.rar (23.52 MB)
For a few years, a good friend of mine lived off the spoils of eBay. He'd scour every record bin he could find within a 200 km radius of Toronto, and it paid off! Not only did he support himself, but he found this ultra-rare 7" by LORD RYÜR. Information on the band is impossibly hard to find, but apparently they were Canadian, and I'd guess from Quebec (based on the intro to "Pact With The Sinner" where the demonic voice says "burn in 'ell" instead of Hell). A current eBay listing for this record states that only 100 copies were pressed, as a demo, in an attempt to procure a record deal that ultimately never materialized. OK, so that's the background on this record... now to the good stuff. LORD RYÜR kinda remind me of MERCYFUL FATE, they don't necessarily sound like MF, but I get the same feeling from both bands... the air of foreboding, scary lyrics that you kinda take seriously, and a real sense of majesty... yeah I said it: majesty! The aura of mystery surrounding LORD RYÜR probably helps too. There's some great guitar playing on these tracks, the riffs and solos are killer, but it's the vocals that really stand out. He's got a very distinct voice, that ranges from gruff (without ever approaching barking) to pure and melodic. When he's actually singing, his voice sounds surprisingly similar to Christian Augustin of SORTILEGE (especially on "Heroes After Heroes"). The choruses for both songs are infectious, and I guarantee they'll get stuck in your head. I can't say enough about how good these tracks are... do yourself a favour and download it! It's really a shame that LORD RYÜR were never signed, and have since been lost to obscurity, cuz they had some true greatness to offer.
DOWNLOAD: Lord Ryür - Pact With The Sinner.rar (16.06 MB)
UPDATE: If you'd previously downloaded this record, you're well aware of how bad it sounded. The rip was good, but the record it's self was rife with scratches resulting in pops, surface noise, and other sundry distractions from the music. I'd been planning a restoration project of this 7" for quite some time, and finally got around to it today. It's not perfect, but it's a fuck of a lot better than the first time I posted it (which is still available above if you feel like comparing 'em). Get the cleaned-up and far superior version of LORD RYÜR's Pact With The Sinner 7" here:
DOWNLOAD: LordRyur-PactWithTheSinner-Redux.rar (16.14 MB)
Ever Rat Records 1987
This comp features 12 songs by 12 Washington bands... and there's good reason why you've never heard of most of 'em. Here we go, in order from worst to best:
12. VADASY JADE - These guys are fucking awful. Woefully bad lyrics and vocals, and the drummer is shit too.
11. KIL D'KOR - Maybe the wimpiest production of all time, and the religious lyrics suck hard. A terrible way to start off the album!
10. DEHUMANIZERS - The track is called "Renegade Smurf"... 'nuff said.
This is where it gets tough, cuz most of these bands are utterly mediocre:
9. POETS CROWN - Seriously... POETS CROWN?
8. ATTAX - Forgettable.
7. PASSION TOY - Another awful band name - who in their right mind would name their band PASSION TOY? It's a clear indicator of how crap they are.
6. RUFF JUSTICE - Decent but unremarkable straight-up Metal. At times the vocals remind me of the guy from HEATHEN.
5. SHOW & TELL - This song is funny to me cuz it's so dumb, I kinda like it though. It's called "Computer Dates" and at first I thought whoah, were these guys way ahead of their time? Writing songs about Lavalife in the mid-80's, but it's actually about androids or something.
4. JINXX - Great guitar playing, strong vocals, and a fairly aggressive track. The keyboards don't even bug me.
3. COVEN - Generic thrash, but definitely the heaviest riffs on the record... too bad about the shitty direct guitar sound.
2. SHOCK TREATMENT - Great song and performances all around. Memorable track that's kinda metalpunk - it was a toss up between them and D.C. LACROIX for best contribution to this record.
1. D.C. LACROIX - Along with COVEN, the only band I'd previously heard of. Best production job (not saying much), and hands down the best song. Very cool - I wanna hear their full-lengths.
I assume that when bands are featured on compilations, they use their best tracks... I'd hate to hear the rejects from the first 8 bands in the list - a truly scary thought. For the most part, this album is an exercise in terrible production. I get that these are prolly demos, but come on! do they have to sound so weak? It makes it next to impossible to enjoy when you can't get over how crappy something sounds. Definitely some rare stuff here, but rare don't make it good.
DOWNLOAD: Metal Meltdown Vol. 2.rar (77.75 MB)
Triple Platinum Records 1983
The cover art for this album is very misleading: swords, loincloths, lightning bolts, erupting volcanoes... you'd expect this to be some kinda chest thumping MANOWAR-ish drivel, full of odes to Valhalla and fallen warriors, but what you really have are pretty boys playing sleazy Sunset Strip style hard rock that is both metallic and bluesy at the same time. I didn't care for this album much when I first ripped it, but after 3 or 4 listens I've grown to think it's pretty cool. Album opener "I'm The Show" reminds me of W.A.S.P. (especially in the vocal department), and the main riff for "Won't Be The Fool" sounds like something from the first TROUBLE record. Actually, when MAX HAVOC (I dunno whether the LTD. is actually part of their name or not) are at their most Metal, they sound surprisingly similar to TROUBLE... check out "Dalilah's Fire" for proof. But most often you hear the WHITESNAKE, AEROSMITH, and LED ZEPPELIN influences more prominently. Gotta say that "Bound For Hell" has one of the worst bass drum sounds I've ever heard... if you're gonna start a song with a drum intro, the shit has got to sound better than that! Along with the name confusion (LTD. or not), I don't even know what this album is supposed to be called. The labels make it look like it's called "#1", but since nothing's written on the cover, it's hard to say for sure. All in all, this is a good hard rock record, and QUIET RIOT's Carlos Cavazo makes a guest appearance, so... I dunno if that makes it more appealing or not, but there it is.
DOWNLOAD: Max Havoc Ltd. - #1.rar (72.35 MB)
Rockport Records 1985
I don't know what the deal is with this album, but it kinda whiffs of a studio project, or some kinda guitar hero record. You know, not a real band, just something thrown together to showcase the guitarist's wanking skills... the kinda crap Shrapnel Records put out. If that's your thing, there's lots of sweep picking and emotionless arpeggiated nonsense to wow you on "Hammerschmitt". Don't get me wrong, there's actual songs on this record, and they're not totally overburdened with six-string histrionics, but when the soloing happens... lookout! Musically it would seem that IRON MAIDEN were the biggest influence on the song writing here, as there's plenty of galloping riffs, guitar harmonies, and Nicko McBrainy drum fills. The whole thing is just so clichéd... look at that goddamn cover for chrisssakes! I couldn't believe it when I first saw it... is that dude (?) in the band? "Big City Action" is actually a very cool song, with a huge, memorable and triumphant chorus. Overall I guess this is a pretty decent album, maybe it's just a bit too precise and "schooled" for my taste... but there's no doubt that these guys can play.
DOWNLOAD: Hammerschmitt - Hammerschmitt.rar (77.16 MB)
From the album: "Charm School Dropouts" (AMP Records 2001)
If you've ever played in a band, you'll understand fully what I'm about to lay down here. You play a lot of shows, with lots of bands... most of which suck (especially when compared to your band - the obvious saviours of rock'n'roll). You become friends with the aforementioned bands, and after they hand you their demo or CD, you pretend like it's actually good, and sometimes that you've actually listened to it (and believe me, they're extending you the same "courtesies"). With very few exceptions, you actually do like your friends' band - I can recall exactly 3 such occurrences, and THE VAPIDS are one of 'em. I think I first saw 'em open for DEE DEE or MARKY RAMONE, or the TOILET BOYS (or some combination of those bands), after which I drunkly approached Jimmy Vapid and told him that my favourite band was THE RAMONES (lie), that my band sounded like THE RAMONES (another lie), and that we wanted to play with THE VAPIDS (truth). THE VAPIDS were just wrapping up recording on their "Charm School Dropouts" album, and Jimmy gave me a copy of the pre-mastered CD. The album is 14 songs, 28 minutes, and totally relentless. But why is "The Bad Lieutenants" so great? Let me list the ways: it's under 2 minutes long, the production is supremely heavy, their spelling is impeccable, gang vocals, and the riff under the spelling bee gets me amped! Seriously amped... that is a great fucking riff! Listen to the track and add to this list by adding a comment.
Headbang Records 1982
I picked up this little curiosity on my last trip to Ric's Collectibles. It features 2 Dutch bands recorded live in Brouwershoeck... which I'm assuming is somewhere in the Netherlands. First up is SAD IRON who deliver 5 tracks of simplistic MOTORHEAD influenced NWOBHM style Metal. They remind me a lot of their Belgian neighbours ACID - basic, no frills pre-thrash, that's punkish in it's simplicity. "Get Out, Get Off" has a kinda WITCHFINDER GENERAL vibe... it's not particularly doomy, but the the vocals have a Zeeb Parkes quality to 'em, and the band's just as sloppy. Side 2 contains 5 tracks by a band called SEDUCER, and to call them Metal is to stretch the definition. They're more of a bluesy hard rock outfit, with southern rock leanings. Since I don't know anything about southern rock, I can't make a direct comparison, but it sounds like the kinda shit you'd hear on classic rock radio... MOLLY HATCHET maybe. Compared to SAD IRON, SEDUCER come across as a more professional and polished band, but their style of generic hard rock isn't really my thing. They also benefit from a fuller sound cuz they have 2 guitar players. Amateurish as they may be, I prefer the SAD IRON tracks here, and am intrigued enough to search out their 2 full lengths.
DOWNLOAD: Holland Heavy Metal Vol 1.rar (80.73 MB)
Fingerprint Records 1984
What a score!!! Found this bad boy on my second trip to Sonic Boom for only $10! I guess that place isn't so bad after all. I have a feeling that this record is worth a LOT more, but I can't find anyone selling it online... I have seen the re-issue listed for more than $100 though. I'm just bragging about the good deal I got - I also bought cheap gas and got a great deal on bananas... who gives a shit! What really matters is how great this record is! I kinda assume that most people are already aware of this record, but in case you're not: NEMESIS was Leif Edling's proto-CANDLEMASS band. Musically this sounds exactly like CANDLEMASS, 'cept Edling sings, and his voice isn't nearly as strong as any of the CANDLEMASS vocalists'. However, I quite like Edling's voice, he is clearly not a trained singer, but there's something endearing about the inadequacies of his voice (and personally I'd prefer if he sang in CANDLEMASS instead of that SOLITUDE AETURNUS guy). "In God We Trust" is much faster than your typical CANDLEMASS song, as it approaches Thrash speeds, but with this exception, the songs plod along at very CANDLEMASSian speeds. "Theme Of The Guardians" and "The King Is Dead" are my faves... the TROUBLE-esque riffs in "The King Is Dead" are over-the-top! With the exception of the "Candlemass" reunion album, I prefer this over most CANDLEMASS material cuz it's more varied, as Edling hadn't yet developed the CANDLEMASS "formula". "The Day Of Retribution" is required listening for any Doom fan!
DOWNLOAD: Nemesis - The Day Of Retribution.rar (52.02 MB)
Clay Records 1986
This record is the most Punk Rock thing DISCHARGE ever did... period. It's universally hated by fans who expected the band to record the same crusty hardcore album over and over and over. Apparently growth and change aren't things embraced by your typical Punk (not surprising when most of the complainants prolly look like they like they're still living in UK82). Taking risks, following your heart - not the masses, breaking the mold, pushing the limits, testing the status quo, etc. ... these are the true characteristics of Punk, and these define the band that recorded "GNW". Unfortunately, the band became so reviled for their new "un-punk" sound that while on tour in the US they were pushed past their breaking point, and infighting led to their eventual break up. I remember reading a letter from the guitarist (I think) in MRR, apologizing for Cal's vocals and his unwillingness to revert back to the hardcore style that he was so well known for. What a cunt! Why should he bow to audience pressure and let the morons at their shows dictate what's best for him? Don't get me wrong, I love old DISCHARGE, but I don't wanna hear "It's No T.V. Sketch" over and over either. And forget their history... take this album for what it is: a solid, well produced, hard rock/metal album with thoughtful lyrics and great performances (especially in the vocal department). As soon as I hear someone complaining about this record, I know unequivocally that they have no idea what Punk Rock is, or what the fuck they're talking about.
DOWNLOAD: Discharge - Grave New World.rar (81.01 MB)
Ebony Records 1987
OK, I'm gonna get this outta the way right off the bat: the production on this record is complete and utter shit. The drums sound like they were recorded under water (and I'm not talking about in a cool Dethklok style), they're swamped in reverb, rendering them totally ineffective and at times nearly inaudible. Everything else is pretty muddy too, but after a song or 2 your ears will become accustomed to how crap it sounds, then... maybe, you'll be able to actually enjoy the album. And surprisingly, this is a fairly enjoyable slab. Not groundbreaking by any means, and prolly already a bit dated when it was released in '87, but regardless, there's some solid NWOBHM style Metal on "Burnin'". Catchy songs, and good performances from vocalist Keith Davison and guitarist Kenny Nicholson rescue this record from it's production maladies. The riff for "Fight To Be Free" shows that these limey louts weren't perpetually stuck in 1982, as it and "Dead Or Alive" are the most modern tracks on offer here... "Dead Or Alive" reminding me of PRONG's start/stop style riffing. The only track that is completely regrettable is "Girls Gone Bad" - it's a poorly executed and blatant rip-off of AC/DC's "Beating Around The Bush". Not to harp on about how bad this record sounds, but no producer credit or recording studio info is supplied on the jacket... I have a feeling that even the hapless hacks responsible for committing this abysmal production job to tape knew that they had created a steaming pile, and requested their names be omitted. Whatever, I dig this record in spite of it's numerous flaws (and there are others - omitted for the sake of brevity), but Metal's not supposed to be perfect or pristine... and this record is far from both!
DOWNLOAD: Fast Kutz - Burnin'.rar (67.59 MB)
From the album "Behind The Realms Of Madness" (C.O.R. Records 1985)
I first heard SACRILEGE on CKLN's Arg Rock radio show. Every Tuesday night at 11 or midnight (I don't remember which), I'd set up my ghetto blaster and struggle with the antenna for 10 or 15 minutes trying to get decent reception. It was worth it, cuz every week, without fail, I'd be blown away by some new band I heard on the show. This is where I was first exposed to UK hardcore/doom/metal crusties SACRILEGE... "Within The Prophecy" had just been released, and has since become one of my all time faves. I wasn't able to track down their first EP ("Behind The Realms Of Madness") 'til a few years ago when I walked into Jimmy Vapid's Reigning Sound record shop in Hamiltion - it was the first record he pulled out to show me... fucking stoked! "Shadow From Mordor" is one of those songs that makes me feel like a teenager, first time I heard it, it sent me into a headbanging frenzy. Nasty guitar sound, the drums are absolutely pounding, and the riffs are sick (especially the one after the solo - love it!). I dig the way that all the riffs are just slight variations of each other. Tam's vocals are more hardcore than they are on "Within The Prophecy"... she hadn't started singing yet. This is one that has to be played loud... so do it! Here's "Shadow From Mordor".
Combat Records 1985
I was pretty confused by this album when I was a kid. It was called THRASHER... so it had to be good right? A friend told me that it was terrible, and to avoid at all costs... so I took his advice. But years later, after becoming a huge fan of THE RODS, I figured: It's gotta be good... it's Carl Cannedy. Wrong! This album is generic, boring, middle-of-the-road hard rock/metal. The songs start out strong, but stagnate quickly, and after 3 or 4 minutes you're already waiting for the next one, hoping it'll be better... but it's not. THRASHER was Cannedy's studio project, and as a result, lacks the fire of a real band. With the exception of Dan Beehler's vocal contribution, I couldn't care less about all the guest musicians, and even Cannedy's playing is a bit subdued and subpar (still solid as a rock, just lacking the excitement he brought to THE RODS). In theory this might have seemed like a good concept, but in reality it's simply a let down. Download it as a curiosity, check it out, leave a comment, maybe you'll dig it more than I do.
DOWNLOAD: Thrasher - Burning At The Speed Of Light.rar (70.85 MB)