Roadrunner Records 1986
I was super stoked to find this, the last missing piece for my TKO collection, last weekend. Now, it seems to me that TKO was a band that never had it's stars align, because they released some top-notch records, but were largely ignored by the record buying public. 1979's Let It Roll was chock fulla slick, fantastically written and executed 70s Rock and 1984's In Your Face is hands down my favourite "commercial" Metal record ever. Having loved those records so much, I was worried that Below The Belt wouldn't live up, and in some ways that concern was justified. Album opener "Beware The Hunter" is overly commercial and sounds painfully dated (Simmons drums do not belong on Metal record folks), but thankfully things take an upturn thereafter. That big 80s production unfortunately remains, but the songs improve greatly, and all the hallmarks of a great TKO record are present: Brad Sinsel's gritty streetweary vocals and memorable, catchy, well written tunes. For the most part Below The Belt sounds like an overproduced version In Your Face, which does dull the immediacy of the music, but hey, I'll take what I can get. The only other slight drawback is that Adam Bomb's ultra-flash guitar playing is conspicuously absent, but again, beggars can't be choosers.
DOWNLOAD: TKO-BelowTheBelt.rar (77.34 MB)
Roadrunner Records 1986
Megaforce Records 1984
Don't let that piece of shit cover fool you... Born To Metalize is a completely kick-ass comp featuring four NJ/NY Metal bands, all of which, with HADES being the only exception, should have gone on to bigger and better things. Oddly enough, HADES is the only band that actually did manage some modicum of success, but more on them later. After a cornball intro, THE BEAST get the ball rolling with 3 straight ahead high energy tracks. I love the vocal delivery! Really excellent stuff, and a tough act to follow for Bayonne's SNEAK ATTACK... fortunately they're able to hold their own with a slightly more typical sound for the era replete with screeching vocals, soaring whammy-bar leads, and laughable lyrics ("Sneak Attack" is so homoerotic it's ridiculous!). Simplistic and direct in their approach, TORTURED DOG keep the quality high in spite of tracks filled with the most generic riffs you can imagine... and somehow it's endearing. Thankfully HADES wrap things up quickly with only 2 tracks (all others contribute 3) of overwrought, melodramatic Metal. These guys clearly took themselves way too seriously, and are a bit of a buzz-kill considering the other 3 bands came to party with lunkheaded, good time tunes. Not a bad band, but they are definitely the weakest link on Born To Metalize, and the singer's Paul Di'Anno impersonation is a bit too blatant on "Rogues March". On the whole, highly recommended listening.
DOWNLOAD: BornToMetalize.rar (78.69 MB)
Thunderbolt Records 1984
Heretic. Burnt at the stake. Sounds pretty heavy right? Well don't get your hopes up, cuz like the majority of NWOBHM acts, HERETIC's presentation was much more sinister than their actual sound. Opener "Water Of Vice" starts things off in fine form with a riff similar to WITCHFINDER GENERAL's "Requiem For Death", but things quickly become more lightweight with each passing track. Solid guitar work and solos reminiscent of early 80s, Snowy White-era, THIN LIZZY are the saving grace here, and weak vocals are the major stumbling block. Still, it's a fun light hearted romp if yer up for it.
DOWNLOAD: Heretic BurntAtTheStake.rar (33.1 MB)