Restless Records 1988
An old friend of mine used to rave about this band, and how great this record was, so I figured "What the eff... I'll give it a shot". I expected typical late 80s Bay Area style Thrash, but am happy to report that that ain't what MX MACHINE were all about. Manic Panic is essentially a Crossover record, but instead of blending Hardcore and Thrash, MX MACHINE combine straight-up Metal, with a touch of MOTORHEAD's Rock/Punk/Metal, and Hardcore-ish vocals and lyrics. Unlike most bands of the era, MX MACHINE weren't about speed for speed's sake, as most of the songs pound out at a moderate pace that never even approaches Thrash or Hardcore tempos. Even without a reliance on speed, this is still a high energy, aggressive collection of good ole kick-ass. Judging by the sticker on the cover "No Glam Fags" was supposed to be their theme song or some shit, and though it's plainly un-PC, it's more imbecilic than it is offensive; the intro is completely unfunny, and the song itself isn't nearly as good as the rest of the record. On the whole though, Manic Panic is damn good... and surprisingly so!
DOWNLOAD: MXMachine-ManicPanic.rar (57.29 MB)
Restless Records 1988
75 W Main Street
Ever since I saw the Heavy Metal Records guys at the Buffalo Record Show in April I've been jonesin' to check out the store, so with fresh new passport in hand I headed down Rochester way. Thankfully the shop does not disappoint - it's tiny, but absolutely packed to the rafters with Metal! There's a veritable fuckload of CDs, DVDs, LPs, and t-shirts... and good shit too, not yer run-of-the-mill crap. Vinyl prices are more than reasonable, with most used records coming in at $5 and new releases at $20 (with a few up to $25). I could have easily spent all the cash I had at Heavy Metal Records, but while I was in Rochester I had a few other places to check out, so I had to restrain myself... next time I won't be so frugal (or I'll bring more money). Yeah this place rules! Here's what I picked up:
• METAL INQUISITOR "Doomsday For The Heretic" LP: Heard a song on Ian Christie's Bloody Roots radio show and loved it.
• SAVATAGE "Sirens" LP: Fuck yeah! The original Par pressing! This made the whole trip worthwhile.
• CAULDRON "Chained To The Nite" LP: I didn't love what I heard from this, but that album cover is so goddamn great that I figured it deserved a chance.
• HERETIC "Breaking Point" LP: I think the selling point on this one was that Kurdt Vanderhoof produced it... and if that ain't weird, I don't know what is.
• RAVEN "Life's A Bitch" LP: Lately I've been having a hard time remembering just how bad RAVEN's post-All For One records were... so I picked this one up as a reminder.
• HOLOCAUST "The Nightcomers" LP: No need to explain I'm sure.
• OVERDRIVE "Metal Attack" LP: I haven't heard Swords & Axes in years, but I remember digging it, and I'm sure I'll dig this one too.
There was a ton of other great records that I had to pass on, but I will be back. In fact, I'll be back soon because Bob, the owner, is having a series of huge blow-out sales. Every Saturday starting Sept. 12 'til the end of the year, he moves piles of CDs, records, DVDs, and t-shirts into the hallway and everything is $5!!!!! So yeah, you can bet I'll be back for that.
Next up was the infamous House Of Guitars. It had been about 18 years since I was last at HOG, and evidently very little has changed. The place is still jam packed with guitars and amps, and what an impressive selection it is. The thing that bugs me about HOG is the way they just kinda pile the guitars upon each other inside the display cases. When buying a guitar, I prefer if it hasn't been crushed by 12 others guitars for past 24 months... I guess I'm just anal like that. Right, so in the basement of House Of Guitars is a warehouse sized room full of CDs, t-shirts, and a few remnants of their formerly glorious vinyl collection. It's such a fucking mess that I got fed up after 5 minutes and left cuz there's absolutely no rhyme or reason to the records they've got left
I whipped by The Bop Shop for a quick boo at their Metal section (which is decent) but was more intent on getting to The Record Archive before they closed. My whole interest in Rochester record shopping was piqued by Seriah Azkath, who mentioned that The Record Archive was tits... and he was right. There's a load of Metal records, and it's not the kinda stuff you'd normally come across. Again I could have blown a shitload of money, but the realization of how much this trip was costing me began to sink in, so I showed some restraint and only bought:
• LADY KILLER "Lady Killer" LP: Another awesome score! This one alone woulda made the trip worthwhile, but SAVATAGE trumps it.
• RAVEN "Stay Hard" LP: More research material for my How Hard Did RAVEN Really Suck? project. I have a feeling it's not quite as hard as I thought when I was kid.
• ROCK GODDESS "Rock Goddess" LP: Never seen this one before (always the Hell Hath No Fury album), but it's produced by Vic Maile which usually indicates quality.
• SATAN JOKERS "Trop Fou Pour Toi" LP: French Metal en français! Digez vous?
If yer on the hunt for Metal records, Rochester, and Heavy Metal Records in particular, is a sure bet!
Rampage Records 1989
Another of Herman Frank's post-ACCEPT bands here... and as usual this pales in comparison to his work with Udo & Co. For the sake of comparison I went back and relistened to HAZZARD (Frank's first band after his stint in ACCEPT) and though it's still a disappointment, it's better than Culture Killed The Native. Where Hazzard is a decidely German record, filled with great riffs in the tradition of ACCEPT (surprise, surprise), this is a very American sounding record. The production is slick, the choruses are hugely overblown (and they all sound exactly the same), and it often reminds me of CRÜE's Dr. Feelgood. Vocalist Fernando Garcia is a dead ringer for SOUND BARRIER's Bernie K. - same voice, same phrasing, similar melodies... but somehow this guy is annoying. A coupla songs storm outta the gates with aggressive riffs and that big sound, but they limp across the finish line, burdened by heaps of reverb and choruses that are too massive for their own good. It's not as if this is a "bad quality" record, as all the players are able and the sound is decent, but unfortunately the songs are gratingly commercial. First HAZZARD and now this... that's two strikes for Frank, and I'm not about to give him a chance for a third.
DOWNLOAD: Victory-CultureKilledTheNative.rar (72.82 MB)
Steamhammer Records 1985
More awesome Germanic Metal for y'alls! Nightout is fulla anthemic tracks that combine heavy riffs with accessible vocal melodies, making CRACK JAW slightly more commercial than the majority of their mid-80s cohorts. The guitar playing is fantastic, so if the vocal poppiness starts to grate on your nerves, the tasteful and moderately technical playing of Holger Eckstein will be a welcome distraction. Album closer "Seven Days Of Wonder" features some excellent harmonized galloping riffs, and is an epic, classy way to wrap up the record. Solid band, good production... a quality release in every respect, even if it's not the heaviest of all time.
DOWNLOAD: CrackJaw-Nightout.rar (66.9 MB)
Mercenary Records 1987
L'Amour Rocks features 8 bands who in '87 were all in their infantile demo stages - some would later become fairly well known, while most others were destined for obscurity. This is a surprisingly solid comp, and save for THE BOYS' track there ain't a stinker in the whole bunch. Here's a breakdown:
WRATHCHILD: Not the UK glamsters, but WRATHCHILD AMERICA, before they were forced to tack on the AMERICA. Great double-time Power Metal that reminds me of EXCITER - what ATTILA wished they sounded like.
MATRIARCH: More Power Metal that seemed ripe for Metal Blade's picking... but I don't think these guys did much after this.
JETT BLAKK: Along with WRATHCHILD, JETT BLAKK are the standouts... pretty surprising too, considering their band photo. Straight ahead Thrash with a bit of a Crossover feel - check the full on S.O.D. mosh part in the middle. The guitar player ended up in over-the-top glam act PRETTY BOY FLOYD.
LETHAL AGGRESSION: Now for some real Crossover. Apparently these guys are still at it... that's dedication!
ATTACKER: These guys had already been on, and been dropped by (presumably), Metal Blade by the time L'Amour Rocks was released. Impressive! Great track though.
HALLOWEEN: Snapped this record up cuz of HALLOWEEN, but unfortunately this track pales in comparison to the stuff on their phenomenal Don't Metal With Evil debut of 3 years earlier. Still cool though.
MEANSTREAK: I always thought MEANSTREAK were more of a Thrash band, but "Lost Stranger" is straightforward Metal with a kinda generic Rock feel... not spectacular, but a totally decent offering.
THE BOYS: The most commercially viable band on L'Amour Rocks, and also the most boring and predictable.
DOWNLOAD: LamourRocks.rar (52.07 MB)
4560 Highway 7 East, Unit 900
Today I headed up to what seemed like the goddamn North Pole to check out a new record shop in the outer limits of the GTA: The Vinyl Obsession. It's always risky making these long treks cuz it can be, and often is, all for naught. You arrive at a dank-hole-in-the wall just to find a "Metal section" full of well abused RAINBOW and MOXY albums... not the case with today's little foray into the godforsaken no man's land of Markham, ON. Apparently I have the Metal equivalent of gaydar, cuz within seconds of walking into the place I had pounced on the Metal vinyl like a fat kid on a Smartie. It was a respectable size, wasn't tucked into the dingiest corner of the shop, and contained lots of decent records - not too shabby! Straight away I noticed that the prices were a bit outta whack: generally overpriced considering that most of the records are simply in average shape... maybe only 3 or 4 mint records amongst them. Thankfully the owner, David, was not opposed to me suggesting what the records were really worth (or at least what I was willing to pay for 'em) and so I left with a handful of cool titles:
• HUSTLER "Now Or Never" LP: The band photo sold me, cuz the album cover stinks! 4 bad-ass French dudes lookin' like they're ready to fuck you up... '85 style.
• WARLORD "Thy Kingdom Come" LP: Believe it or not, I'd never seen this record before. Couldn't get away from that damn Cannons Of Destruction thing when I was a kid, but this one... never.
• BLACK SPOT "Flaps Down" LP: Never heard of these dudes, have no idea what they're about, but judging by the cover shot they're a Metal band (even though this kinda whiffs of Grunge or some kinda late 80s Alternative snooze-fest).
• VECTOM "Rules Of Mystery" LP: I feel like I should be more familiar with this band, the name rings a bell, but nothing concrete springs to to mind. Certainly looks to be good.
• L'AMOUR ROCKS Compilation LP: HALLOWEEN is on it and that's all I needed to see.
• ADAM BOMB "Fatal Attraction" LP: The guy rules on that TKO record, and just days ago I read a big thing on him on sleazegrinder.com, so I hadta have it.
• STEELER "Strike Back" LP: Still haven't listened to their first album... ooops, mistook these guys for Yngwie's old outfit - this is an altogether different band.
• VICTORY "Culture Killed The Native" LP: Another of Herman Frank's post-ACCEPT projects, and even though I didn't care for HAZZARD, I decide to give this one a go.
If The Vinyl Obsession is able to maintain a selection of titles this varied, and have a steady flow of new ones regularly coming through the door, it will surely become the go-to place for used Metal.
Black Dragon Records 1986
D.C. LACROIX were the best band on Ever Rat's dismal Metal Meltdown 2 comp, but on their Crack Of Doom debut the band seems unsure of whether commercial party anthems or straight ahead Metal is their forte. They tend to flip-flop between, and/or meld the two, with mixed results - not surprisingly they're at their best when sticking to the metallic vein of "Black Leather Monster" or the ANVIL-esque title track. Vocalist Sylvie Lacroix sounds a helluva lot like Doro Pesch, but as a band D.C. LACROIX is little more than a glorified bar band. They come across as an Everytown, USA cover band that decided to try their hand at Metal, even though it's not what they would naturally play and is totally foreign to them. I might be way off base, but that's what it sounds like. I am, however, gonna give this one a few more listens cuz I have a feeling it might be a bit of a creeper.
DOWNLOAD: DCLacroix-CrackOfDoom.rar (65.75 MB)
377 St. Paul Street
So it would appear that there's now 2 vinyl shops in St. Catharines... could things be looking up for the armpit of Ontario? Don't get too excited - Niagara Records is a bit of a dump, but there is a crapload of records in the decently sized shop. Generally the quality is below average, but I'm sure there's some gems tucked in amongst all the typical $1 bin records. The Metal section (yes they actually have one) is a bit underwhelming with it's abundance of ZEBRA, HELLFIELD, and ALCATRAZZ records, though I did find DC3's "The Good Hex" as well as a Y&T single, and a couple of standard Glam Metal slabs. First time I checked out Niagara Records they had JAG PANZER "Ample Destruction" under glass, as if they were preserving some hallowed artifact... and they wanted $30 for it in spite of the obvious wear... pass. These days a HEATHEN single or the crappy post-COCKNEY REJECTS "Quiet Storm" LP are the best you're gonna find. This is the kinda place I go to pick up records that I don't really care too much about (RATT, JETBOY, etc.) or when I just gotta buy something.
SL Records 1984
I ripped this record ages ago, but didn't really have much to say about it... and not surprisingly, I still don't. Deflorator is packed with nine decent AC/DC influenced rockers that have a slight Metal edge, and thus sound a helluva lot like KROKUS (so much so that I was convinced that these guys were Swiss). If you dig the SAMAIN record I posted yesterday, you're sure to enjoy this one too - it's rock solid from start to finish, and though it's taken a really long time, has grown on me steadily.
DOWNLOAD: TNT-Deflorator.rar (69.61 MB)
Roadrunner Records 1984
Moustache Metal ran rampant in the mid-80s, but it was nowhere more present than in der Vaterland. 4/5 of SAMAIN carry on the long and strong German tradition of fuzzy facial appendages by proudly displaying their soup strainers on the back cover of Vibrations Of Doom: a generally innocuous blend of ACCEPT-ish pounders and mid-tempo rockers that recall Deutcshe Deflorators TNT. This is middle-of-the-road Metal that's very reminiscent of KROKUS... you know: it's cool, but it's not mindblowing by any means, and is generally forgettable. VOD does have it's moments, but there's a definite shortage of excitement ("Giant Man" or "Gonna Swing My Chariot" being the possible exceptions), as none of 'em really get the heart pumping. Maybe I can't fully appreciate it cuz of my lack of facial hair, but still, this is an above average record that warrants a few more spins and perhaps a few less shaves.
DOWNLOAD: Samain-VibrationsOfDoom.rar (70.73 MB)