Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Metal Mail: Tapehead City

I have been collecting all of my music on cassettes lately.  Not really sure why, I just decided that is the format I enjoy the best.  My wife thinks I am crazy.  She is probably correct.

Despite how much I love Symbol of Salvation and John Bush's work with Anthrax, I never really checked out any more of Armored Saint's early work.  Part of this is likely due to not really enjoying the more recent output by the band.  Part of it may be due to simply lack of opportunity.  But after I saw them live in support of Queensryche a year or so ago, I decided I would take a chance on them again.  It seems odd now that I did not give their earlier work a chance because this album is terrific and is definitely closer to Symbol than their later material, which only makes sense because this album immediately preceded it.  Now, there are not any truly awesome songs like "Hanging Judge" or "Reign of Fire" on this one, but there are some damn good ones.  Ultimately, I will probably always prefer Symbol over this one, but this is definitely a good album, and much better than anything the band has been putting out in recent years.

I have been on a 1980's metal kick lately.  I blame my wife.  It seems reasonable.  Anyway, I have been trying to find bands that were overlooked in the 1980's that definitely played metal.  I have been mostly using the Metal Archives as a source to look bands up when I come across them on sites like Tapehead City.  This album received some a very favorable review on that site, and it was cheap, so I took a flyer.  This album is definitely a product of its time.  It is a metal album, clearly there are metal riffs, but the band is more of a combination of U.S. power metal and the more popular styles of hard rock/heavy metal from the time period.  There are some damn catchy songs here, such as the title track, which absolutely would fit in on an album by Manowar or Helstar.  There are some other highlights as well.  This album would have been avoided based entirely on the super cheesy cover, but it is an example of why one should not judge an album just by its cover.

One of the things that I have really enjoyed since starting to really collect cassettes has been finding old demo tapes, particularly of bands that never made it.  And Tapehead City seems to have a number of obscure demos.  Demos from bands that are well-known are usually a bit pricey, so this is just fine.  I picked up this demo from a Massachusetts-based band based on the fact that they are listed as a thrash metal band on the Metal Archives and because it was pretty cheap.  Well, if they ever were a thrash metal band, they are not on this demo.  This is the last of five demos the band released in their short existence and it is very clear that the band was aiming for more of a Pantera/Machine Head/Exhorder style of groove metal.  It is not bad, but it is not really what I expected either, and I am not typically much of a groove metal fan.  It is interesting to note that one of the former band members from this group went on to play in Godless Rising and Goreality, two bands of whom I am familiar.

This was a little-known doom metal band that existed for a few years in the late 1980's/early 1990's.  They released this album, their debut, before going on hiatus for a few years, released albums in 2000 and 2004 before disbanding.  Recently, they have re-formed again.  This is the first time I have had a chance to check them out.  This is a very bluesy style of doom metal, calling to mind the early Black Sabbath albums.  The album is somewhat long and most of the songs are very slow, making it seem that much longer.  That is not really a problem, though it would be nice if there was a little bit more variety.  The better tracks are those that are faster-paced.  This is certainly an interesting album and would definitely appeal to the true doom metal fans out there.

This is not actually what I ordered.  Usually I avoid live albums and I ordered one of the band's early studio albums.  But when it arrived, the J-card was correct, but the tape was this live release.  I gave it a shot anyway and I am damn glad I did.  I avoided Lizzy Borden for a long period of time due to assuming they were just another glam band.  Honestly, the band definitely looks ridiculous, however musically, they have more in common with early Iron Maiden than Poison.  This is 100% pure 1980's heavy metal with searing guitar solos, infectious riffs, and soaring vocals.  Yes, it is a live album, but the production is so good that the songs do not lose anything.  In an ongoing review of 1980's groups, Lizzy Borden stands along with W.A.S.P. as truly impressive metal bands in an ocean of forgettable glam bands.

No comments:

Post a Comment