Great Metal Albums of 1986: Metal Church- The Dark

Posted in Uncategorized on February 24, 2021 by 80smetalman

Crimson Glory may have failed to impress me when I saw them live in February, 1987, but the next band of the evening, Metal Church, totally blew me away. On the other hand, it would have been very difficult for them not have blown me away because their 1986 album, “The Dark” was on my listening rotation at the time. It was one of those albums which ended my 1986 on the right note and propelled me into 1987.

Some critics have accused “The Dark” of having lost its teeth in comparison to the more thrash induced self titled debut album. They went on to say that Metal Church was confused about which direction they were heading. What do critics know? All I knew was that I loved the album and continue to do so. Yes, some of the songs aren’t as fast and take on a more straight-forward metal approach but there is still some good speed metal to mosh to. The album opener does what it says in the song title, it hits you like a “Ton of Bricks.” It’s a throat grabber, guaranteed to fill a mosh pit anywhere and the next track, “Start With Fire,” would keep that mosh pit going.

It’s with the third track, “Method to Your Madness,” where some critics may point to an abandonment of the thrash sound. What I know is that while it has more of a melody, that melody is very catching and with the crashing guitars and thumping bass, it’s one to get you headbanging along to. Plus, the chorus is good to sing along to. Then we come to my favourite song on the album and one of my favourite Metal Church tunes of all time, “Watch the Children Pray.” This song has a great doom metal type intro and this was many years before anyone coined the phrase. It’s impending doom feeling has you gripped until the guitars come crashing down around you. It’s probably the closest Metal Church comes to having a ballad. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was dedicated to Metallica’s Cliff Burton who died nine days before it’s release. I think Cliff would be happy with this choice of song.

Another criticism slung at the album is that after the tracks “Over My Dead Body” and the title cut, which are both pure thrash tunes and I love how the chorus is sung on the title cut, the album takes a nosedive as the remaining tracks are filler. I disagree with that, totally. While, I might prefer the first half of the album, the remaining songs aren’t in anyway, filler. Not to these ears! “Pyscho” and “Line of Death” carry on the thrash party, if anything, the ferocity increases with these two tracks, although “Line of Death” does slow down for a breather in the middle of it. “Burial at Sea” may not be thrash but there is some very powerful chords to assault your delicate ears and a couple of good lead guitar hooks. In fact, if I were to hurl any criticism of this album, I think that “Burial at Sea” should have been the closer as the actual closer, “Western Alliance,” is more of a thrash song and would have been better before “Burial at Sea.” While maybe not the best choice for closer, it’s still a great mosh tune and fits in better with the four songs which precede it. Other than that, “The Dark” is still a great album.

Track Listing:

  1. Ton of Bricks
  2. Start the Fire
  3. Method to Your Madness
  4. Watch the Children Pray
  5. Over My Dead Body
  6. The Dark
  7. Psycho
  8. Line of Death
  9. Burial at Sea
  10. Western Alliance
Metal Church

David Wayne- vocals

Kurdt Vanderhoof- guitar

Craig Wells- guitar

Duke Erickson- bass

Kirk Arrington- drums

Unfortunately, after this fantastic album, things would stall in the Metal Church camp. Personnel changes meant that they would not put out another album for nearly three years but that’s a story for another day. For with “The Dark,” they definitely stamped their name on 1986.

Next post: Killer Dwarfs- Stand Tall

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Crimson Glory

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21, 2021 by 80smetalman

I avoided listening to any Crimson Glory over the many years. This was down to when, in February 1987, I saw them support Anthrax and Metal Church at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. To make a long story short, I was totally unimpressed with them. After the concert, I stated that the night would have just as good if Crimson Glory had been left off the bill as Anthrax and Metal Church were both amazing. Thirty plus years on, whether I like it or not, Crimson Glory did make up a small piece of heavy metal history and being the open minded chap I try to be, I gave their debut album a few listens. Maybe it’s me having more wisdom in my older years or possibly, they simply had an off night when I saw them but this album is pretty good.

Reflecting back, I think that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to put a straight-forward metal band like Crimson Glory on a bill with two thrash metal giants. While there are some great power chords throughout the album, which comes through straight way, there are some great melodies on the songs as well. Furthermore, I can see why some people have made comparisons between lead singer, Midnight, and Queensryche’s Geoff Tate. Midnight does like to do the screams and he does it quite a bit on many of the songs. “Heart of Steel” is a prime example of his vocal prowess. It also helps that lead guitarist Jon Drenning gets to show off his shredding skills and on a further note, I now include Ben Jackson in my list of great rhythm guitarists. I have to concede that there is a lot to like on the album.

One track, where Crimson Glory tries to cover all the bases is “Azrael.” My guess is that they were trying to make Queensryche style progressive type song. It starts out with an acoustic intro which gives the impression of a possible ballad before going into the power chords. The track is played very well and Midnight gets to scream quite a bit. The song also lets you know that there was an angel of mercy named Azrael as “Azrael, angel of mercy,” gets repeated a lot. Overall, it’s a pretty decent track, though it doesn’t get my vote for top track. Nor does, “Heart of Steel.” No, my votes for best tracks on the album are “Dragon Lady” and “Queen of the Masquerade.” There are no special reasons as to why these two tracks are my favourites on the album, they simply are the tracks which grab me and make me take notice of them. The band does nothing different with them, they simply put everything together in a way which pleases me. On another note, maybe the concert promoter heard the track, “Mayday,” and assumed Crimson Glory were a speed metal band. It could also be down to the closer, “Lost Reflection,” which while a good closer, is slightly similar to a Metal Church song from their album at the time.

It would be a dereliction of duty not to point out what made Crimson Glory stand out in the 1980s. It wasn’t anything to do with their sound, it was the fact that they wore silver metallic masks. In an age where a lot of metal bands began to look alike, the masks made them stand out. You saw the masks and knew it was them. Unfortunately, because I was so not impressed when I saw them, I thought that the masks were just a gimmick in order to compensate for lack of musical acumen. I see now that’s not the case.

Track Listing:

  1. Valhalla
  2. Dragon Lady
  3. Heart of Steel
  4. Azrael
  5. Mayday
  6. Queen of the Masquerade
  7. Angels of War
  8. Lost Reflection

Midnight- lead vocals

Jon Drenning- lead guitar

Ben Jackson- rhythm guitar

Jeff Lords- bass

Dana Burnell- drums

Hindsight isn’t 20-20 but it’s a lot better than foresight or present sight. Reflecting back, it might have been better if Crimson Glory had been on the bill with Queensryche and Bon Jovi when I saw them three months prior to this concert. Having been still unfamiliar with Queensryche and had an “eh” approach to Bon Jovi, I think I would have appreciated them more. Especially if this debut album is anything to go by.

Next post: Metal Church- The Dark

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Note: I do write how unimpressed I was with Crimson Glory in the book.

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Agent Steel- Mad Locust Rising

Posted in Uncategorized on February 17, 2021 by 80smetalman

One misconception people outside the heavy metal fraternity had about Combat Records in 1986 was that they would sign any band who could breathe, (direct quote). I think they were jealous of the fact which I pointed out in a post which now seems many moons ago, that Combat Records ruled 1986! Before that, it launched great bands such as Metallica and Megadeath onto the road to superstardom. Anyhow, for me, the more 1986 rolled along, it rapidly became my ‘go to’ label for thrash. Agent Steel and their four song EP, “Mad Locust Rising,” was a result of that.

The first track of the EP, “The Swarm,” is a seventeen second intro. The intention is that you, the listener, is about to be swarmed by a plague of locusts, unfortunately, the production doesn’t make it clear as to whether that happens. No worries though, because the second track, the title track, jumps in straight away and bombards your delicate ears with some amazing thrash. Probably the best way to describe the song is this is what it would sound like if Robert Halford joined a thrash band. You can definitely hear Rob’s influence on lead singer, John Cyriis, in the the vocals, especially the way in which he holds his note near the end. Meanwhile, he is backed up by some ferocious speed chords and a couple of cool guitar solos which are guaranteed to get a mosh pit started.

If the title track didn’t convince people of the influence Judas Priest had on Agent Steel, then their cover of “The Ripper” would. Since I consider this song to be the hidden gem of the entire Judas Priest discography, I listened to the cover with very critical ears and if Agent Steel had spoiled the song, then I would be pouring out my wrath on this page. Fortunately for them, they do a good job with it. Of course, Cyriis tries hard to emulate his hero and there is only one Rob Halford but John’s vocals are quite good here. And because Agent Steel are thrash or speed metal, they take the pace up a few mph but the song doesn’t suffer at all. So, good job there.

Two songs combined into one close out the EP. The first part, “Let It Be Done,” is mad mosh pit inducing thrash and it is here where guitarists Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles play their best solos. While they slow the temp down considerably for the final part of the track, “The Day at Guyana,” it doesn’t lose the power, giving you the sense of impeding doom while the EP closes out. On the subject of EP’s, one advantage they have over LP’s is that the artists or the record company can choose what tracks they think are best to go on and not have to worry about filler. I know this doesn’t always work out but for “Mad Locust Rising,” it definitely does.

Track Listing:

  1. The Swarm
  2. Mad Locust Rising
  3. The Ripper
  4. Let It Be Done/The Day at Guyanan
Agent Steel

John Cyriss- vocals

Juan Garcia- guitar

Bernie Versailles- guitar

Mike Zaputil- bass

Chuck Profus- drums

Note: George Robb actually played bass on the album but was fired from the band after it was recorded.

Like so many bands in 1986, Agent Steel came and went. However, if you love a good short, sharp mosh, they did leave a cool EP in which to do it to.

Next post: Crimson Glory

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Joshua- Surrender

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2021 by 80smetalman

Joshua is another American band which didn’t come to my attention until I got over to the UK. Unlike Racer X, however, Joshua was better known outside the US than in it. In 1983, they scored a minor hit in Japan but they seemed to be unnoticed in North America and Europe. One theory could be down to them being described as Christian rock. Maybe so, but when I listen to their album, “Surrender,” I don’t hear any overt Jesus lyrics in the songs.

Another contrast to the band in the previous post is that I can label Joshua and that label is melodic metal. Furthermore, it’s the same type of melodic metal that was very popular in the 1980s. It could also be the reason why they weren’t more well known than they actually were. They are a good, tight solid band and it is shown on this album, “Surrender.” Lead singer, Jeff Fenholt has a steady and consistent voice which lasts throughout the entire album. He doesn’t need to do any falsetto type vocals or screams, what he does is more than sufficient. The rhythm section of Jo Galletta and Loren Robinson provide a steady beat all through the album. When time to shine, keyboardist Patrick Bradley delivers the goods. His most noted effort comes on the track, “Your Love is Gone.” That brings me to the guitar duo of Joshua Perahia and Kenneth Tamplin. Maybe it’s my ears needing syringing but some of the guitar solos remind me of Vinnie Vincent’s, but only they aren’t all over the place like Vinnie’s was on his album. Because both guitarists deliver some really cool solos, maybe Vinnie was trying to emulate Perahia and Tamplin.

Throughout “Surrender,” you get a good consistent mix of good melodic metal songs. This is definitely an album for putting on in the car when going on a long drive because the songs are consistently good, although I can’t say there is any one song which totally blows me away. The closest comes with the two tracks dead centre on the album where the rock goes harder yet without losing any of the melody. Those tracks are “Rockin’ the World” and “Back to the Rock.” The power chords give those songs just a little bit more oomph in my humble opinion. Saying that, there is a cool keyboard bit on “Back to the Rock.” But on a commercial level, if I were to choose a song from “Surrender” which had the best shot at commercial success, it would be “Hold On.” Remembering how bands like this made their success back in the 80s, this track follows that formula. It has a good melody with a hard rock edge and while I love the guitar solo on it, I have the sneaking suspicion that it would have been cut down to make the track more radio friendly. So, maybe it was a good thing it wasn’t a single.

Track Listing:

  1. Surrender Love
  2. Heart Full of Soul
  3. Your Love is Gone
  4. Hold On
  5. Back to the Rock
  6. Rockin’ the World
  7. Stay Alive
  8. Love Shock
  9. Reprise

Joshua Perahia- guitar, backing vocals

Kenneth Tamplin- guitar, backing vocals

Jeff Fenholt- lead vocals

Patrick Bradley- keyboards, backing vocals

Loren Robinson- bass, backing vocals

Jo Galletta- drums

It’s a shame how so many good bands come and go without getting the recognition they deserved. This was the case with Joshua, so I hope that I am doing them some sort of justice in retrospect here today.

Next post: Agent Steel- Mad Locust Rising

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Racer X- Street Lethal

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2021 by 80smetalman

Reflecting back to the 1980s, I have come to the conclusion that it is easier for American bands to get noticed in Great Britain than it is for British bands to get noticed in the US. Supporting my claim is the 1986 debut album, “Street Lethal,” from Los Angeles based metal band, Racer X. It was a good British friend who first enlightened me about this band and having been in the UK for a few months by then, I assumed they were British. My good friend informed me that Racer X were in fact, American.

I love it when I can’t pigeon hole a band. Wikipedia calls this album speed metal and true, there are songs which could be called that. The title cut is one such song as is “Loud and Clear.” However, those tracks alone aren’t enough to call Racer X speed metal. Plus, their image is one of a LA glam metal band. Then there is my choice for favourite track on the album, “Into the Night,” which is definitely more in the realm of Judas Priest. Although unlike Ded Engine, lead singer Jeff Martin, does not sound as if he has a head cold. On top of that, guitarist Paul Gilbert tries to imitate one Yngwie J. Malmesteen on his guitar solo. In fact, there is an instrumental towards the end of the album called “Y.R.O.,” which is said to stand for “Yngwie Rip Off.” At least they have a sense of humour.

One song, which successfully bridges the speed metal label, Judas Priest influence and Yngwie type guitar solo is “Blowin’ Up the Radio.” All three of those elements come together very well to make a very good song. On the other hand, I would say that “Hotter Than Fire” could be the most home grown song on the album but then Gilbert spoils my theory with another Yngwie style guitar solo. That’s not a bad thing, really.

“On the Loose,” while not a bad track, isn’t anything noteworthy either. It’s not quite filler but I would call it more of a supporting track. “Dangerous Love” goes back to a more speed metal sound and “Getaway” is a more Priest influenced metal tune and of course, an Yngwie influenced guitar solo. That brings me to the closer, “Rock It.” After several listens, I’m not sure what to make of the song. I like the catchy, soulful intro. If anything, the band abandons the Judas Priest influence and tries to be more like Van Halen. The band plays it very well and I take my hat off to the rhythm section especially. But sorry Jeff Martin, you’re not David Lee Roth. His vocal style is much more suited to the other songs.

Track Listing:

  1. Frenzy
  2. Street Lethal
  3. Into the Night
  4. Blowin’ Up the Radio
  5. Hotter Than Fire
  6. On the Loose
  7. Loud and Clear
  8. Y.R.O.
  9. Dangerous Love
  10. Getaway
  11. Rock It
Racer X

Jeff Martin- vocals

Paul Gilbert- guitar

John Alderete- bass

Harry Gschoessher- drums

Note: As you can see, there are five in the picture but four people in the credits. This is because they would add a second guitarist on the next album.

If Racer X were some sort of come and go in an instant type band, then they wouldn’t have remained in my memory for thirty years plus. It’s been a long time since I actually listened to “Street Lethal” and though I wouldn’t rate is as high as some of the classics from 1986, it’s still a very good listen.

Next post: Joshua- Surrender

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Tribute to a Metal Sister- Stacy Kroger

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2021 by 80smetalman
‘Wild Swinging’ Stacy

You have all enjoyed the albums and the songs which appeared on “The Metal Sisters Compilation Tape” which they sent me in 1986. With Poison being the final song to appear on that tape, I thought it was only right to write a dedication post to one true metal sister, Stacy Kroger. Stacy was my sister Dawn’s best friend and she was a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding. But what was coolest about her was that she was a total metalhead. I remember she was big on Judas Priest and Dokken and while I had been introduced to Yngwie Malmesteen in 1985, it was Stacy who went on so much about him, I had to get his debut album. She also introduced me to Virgin Steele. However, unfortunately Stacy is no longer with us, she passed away some ten years ago from a heart defect she had since birth, I think she was only 44 at the time.

I would love to tell you lots of great tales about the Metal Sisters but I don’t think there are many to tell. I know they went to North Jersey to see a band, whose lead singer they knew from working at the local record store, (actually it was the chain Sound Odyssey) and that night, they were threatened by that singer’s wife for paying too much attention to him. Dawn joked that they nearly had a rumble. That brings me to another point, both Metal Sisters were fired from Sound Odyssey for bullshit reasons. However, the most unfortunate aspect in Stacy’s life was her mother. Stacy’s mom, (bad pun here because she was nothing like the Fountains of Wayne song), was more like the mother in the movie “Carrie.” Trust me, I don’t exaggerate this. Dawn told me, that her mom had a total shit fit when I wrote Stacy a letter when I got over to England.

Stacy’s mother wasn’t far off from this.

Even with an overbearing, oppressive mother, Stacy was still able to find the metal. She was a great source of of information regarding new bands and albums. I remember she gave me Kreator’s “Pleasure to Kill” album which was given to the record shop as a promo. Therefore, I like to dedicate this post to “Wild Swinging” Stacy and I hope that she is watching the artists she didn’t get to see while she was alive in a better place.

Rest in peace Stacy Kroger, I hope you approve of the playlist

Next post: Racer X- Street Lethal

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p.s. There is a character named Stacy in Rock and Roll Children and it is based on her.

Great Metal Albums of 1986: Poison- Look What the Cat Dragged In

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2021 by 80smetalman

There’s a funny story behind how I first was introduced to Poison. A bunch of us were talking about who were the hottest women in heavy metal. Doro, Lee Aaron and Kelly Johnson of Girlschool were top runners. Then out of nowhere, one guy put forward Poison guitarist, CC Deville. One it was made known that CC was a guy, it brought forth a lot of laughter. My sister did state that he wore more make up than she did. Since then, Poison’s reputation for looking like ladies is as strong, maybe stronger, than their music. One commentator once referred to them as ‘phillies with willys.’

Let us focus on the music of Poison and their debut album, “Look What the Cat Dragged In.” What I like about this album is that the great majority of the songs have a catchy vibe which satisfies the commercial market and metalheads. I love the intro on the opener and big single, “Cry Tough.” In fact, our little group at college used to use the drum beat as a secret knock. The guitars are good, at least played well with in CC’s capabilities and the lyrics are memorable. This is one of my inspirational songs when I need a lift.

The next couple of songs also have a bit of a catchy vibe. “I Won’t Forget You” is an all right power ballad but a few years later, Poison would have a power ballad that blows this one away. Then after that, the try to go more hard metal on “Play Dirty.” They should have turned the guitar up a bit more, then it would have been a more convincing rocker. The same could be said for the title cut, though I like this one better. I can’t put my finger on it but there is definitely something catchy about it. I don’t even find Bret Michaels awful attempt at making a cat meow annoying.

Next, we come to the second best known single from the album, “Talk Dirty to Me.” Watching the video after so many years, I can say that if I was in Poison, seeing it now, I’d cringe in embarrassment. This song is horribly cheesy but yet, I really like it! I remember they closed their set when I saw them live at Donnington in 1990 and it was a great way to end the show.

Probably the most straightforward metal tune comes in the form of “Want Some, Need Some.” Like many of the songs on the album, it has a catchy melody but there is a more hard rock feel to it. However, “Blame It On You” is even harder. I sense a boogie vibe on this song and once again, that vibe is very catchy. Same can be sad about “Bad Boy.” That song is probably the best of the three mentioned here and in no way would I call any of these tracks ‘filler.’ They’re all good rockers and maybe placing them towards the end of the album was a good idea as they definitely keep the party going.

The album’s closer, “Let Me Go to the Show,” was already known to me through the Metal Sister’s Compilation Tape. The lyrics about a boy who sneaks out and goes to a concert he isn’t allowed to go to isn’t anything new. It has been the plot in episodes of quite a few sit coms, especially back then. While the song itself is nothing special compared to the rest of the album, it’s the very end which makes the song for me. The father yelling, “You heard your mother, turn that shit off!”

Track Listing:

  1. Cry Tough
  2. I Want Action
  3. I Won’t Forget You
  4. Play Dirty
  5. Look What the Cat Dragged In
  6. Talk Dirty to Me
  7. Want Some, Need Some
  8. Blame It On You
  9. Bad Boy
  10. Let Me Go to the Show

Bret Michael- lead vocals

CC Deville- guitar, backing vocals

Bobby Dall- bass, backing vocals

Rikki Rocket- drums, backing vocals

Whether you think Poison were poseurs, phillies with willys or even a cool glam metal band, it doesn’t matter. Like it or not, their debut album, “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” took 1986 by storm on both sides of the Atlantic.

Next post: Tribute to a Metal Sister

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Tony MacAlpine- Edge of Insanity

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31, 2021 by 80smetalman

Two camps were beginning to emerge in 1986 over the question of solo albums by lead guitarists. Those in favour argued that you got to hear the guitarist showcase their talent without the confines of the rest of their band. Those on the other side stated that albums of nothing but guitar instrumentals tend to become boring. They even point to one of the pioneers of guitar albums, Yngwie Malmesteen, stating that even he had vocalists on some of his songs. Personally, I go with the ‘in favour’ group because I have always been in awe of virtuosos who could bend the six-stringed instrument to their will. Tony MacAlpine was one such virtuoso.

Tony’s album, “Edge of Insanity” has no vocals and those in the opposition camp might find the album boring. However, what he does on each and every track is not boring. On each track, he makes the guitar sing in a unique and very entertaining way. I have always thought that he deserves to be included among all the rock and metal guitar gods whenever they are mentioned. However, in contrast to Yngwie, Tony plays the keyboards on the album as well. In fact, there is no guitar on the track, “Chopin- Prelude 16, Opus 28,” it’s just him on the keyboards and he is excellent. But where it shines best is my choice for hidden gem, “The Taker.” Here, Tony uses both his guitar and keyboard skills to great effect. Another contrast is while Yngwie played bass on his debut album, Tony only plays bass on one track. For the others, he chose to enlist the help of one Billy Sheehan. With Billy, he didn’t have to worry about the bass parts.

When I listened to “Edge of Insanity,” I tried to do so without regard to the two tracks which were featured on the Metal Sisters Compilation, the title track and “The Witch and the Priest.” However, that second track has been the one which has stuck in my mind for more than thirty years and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best track on the album. It’s just the way Tony brings a rhythm to the lead guitar and then changes it once you start getting comfortable and then changes it back. At the same time, Billy and drummer Steve Smith, yes that Steve Smith from some band called Journey, what, were you thinking of the character on “American Dad?” provide a totally reliable rhythm section. That track is the defining number on a great instrumental album.

Track Listing:

  1. Wheel of Fortune
  2. The Stranger
  3. Quarter to Midnight (Live Solo)
  4. Agrionia
  5. Empire in the Sky
  6. The Witch and the Priest
  7. The Taker
  8. Chopin, Prelude 16, Opus 28
  9. Edge of Insanity
  10. The Raven
  11. No Place in Time
Tony MacAlpine

Tony MacAlpine- guitar, keyboards, bass (track 7)

Billy Sheehan- bass

Steve Smith- drums

It might be true that lead guitarists playing solo albums were beginning to come out of the woodwork in 1986 but I never considered that a bad thing. In the mid to late 1980s, there were a lot of great guitar albums, my favourite would come two years later but I totally enjoyed Tony MacApline’s album in 1986 and still enjoy it today.

Next post: Poison- Look What the Cat Dragged In

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: Ded Engine

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2021 by 80smetalman

Now to answer the question which has been on everybody’s mind since last post, does Ded Engine really sound like Judas Priest with a head cold? Maybe the head cold bit was a little too harsh as I have listened to it recently but when I first heard it back in 1986, I thought it was the case. On the opening track, “Scream,” maybe they had a cold when they recorded that one and still a little bit when I reheard one of the tracks, “Rabid,” which appeared on the Metal Sister Compilation Tape, the same might apply. But when I heard the other track, “Bloodlust,” I was less inclined to think so. In fact, “Bloodlust” is one of the better tracks on the album.

Listen to the two tracks and judge for yourself:

Whether they had a head cold or not, this album from Ded Engine was definitely influenced by Judas Priest and it can be heard all over the album. The opening track reminds me of “Ram It Down” and the second track starts out with riffs similar to “You Got Another Thing Coming.” Saying that, I hear a little bit of KISS’s “Tears are Falling” in that intro but I tend to lean more towards Priest here, especially as KISS were chasing trends in the 80s, not creating them. The track, “Renegade,” reminds me of “Freewheel Burning” and I am convinced that every track can either be linked to a particular Judas Priest song or you can hear the Priest influence on it.

Being influenced by a great band like Judas Priest isn’t a bad thing. Ded Engine emulate their heroes very well. Lead singer Scott Litz is no Robert Halford but he does his best to try to sound like him and isn’t too bad and you have to give credit to guitarist, Doug Horstman. He can play riffs and solos like both Glenn Tipton and KK Downing, so you can say you have one guitarist doing the work of two. He plays well on the album. For me though, the best track on the album is “Take A Hike.” Probably because I can’t tie it to any particular Judas Priest song off the top of my head. I’m sure if I went through the Judas Priest discography, I would find one but no matter. This song, while still very strongly influenced by that band, probably sounds the most original. Horstman lays down some really great riffs on it.

The great feeling from “Take A Hike” is carried over to “Hot Shot.” There is some originality here and some Litz’s vocals are probably the best on the track and the backing vocals are good. Furthermore, Horstman lays down a cool guitar solo. With all that said, I should declare it the best track on the album but I’m afraid that even with all of those elements, it fails to reach the heights of “Take A Hike.” The problem with the Priest influence is that by the time you get to the last three tracks, it all gets a little predictable, even if the guitar solo on “Young and Hot” is quite good.

Track Listing:

  1. Scream
  2. Kings of the City
  3. Renegade
  4. Rabid
  5. Bloodlust
  6. Take a Hike
  7. Hot Shot
  8. Young and Hot
  9. Reign of Terror
  10. Til Deaf Do Us Part
Ded Engine

Scott Litz- vocals

Doug Horstman- guitars

Marky De Sade- bass

G.H. Chip Lorimer- drums

Final verdict is that Ded Engine’s debut album definitely sounds like Judas Priest but not so much with a head cold as I originally remembered. It’s a worthwhile listen.

Next post: Tony MacAlpine- Edge of Insanity

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Great Metal Albums of 1986: 3rd Stage Alert

Posted in Uncategorized on January 23, 2021 by 80smetalman

One cool think about Metal Sister Stacy when I knew her back in the 1980s was that she could always find new metal bands which few people had heard of. It’s her I have to thank for introducing me to Virgin Steele and Kreator to name just the ones that come to mind. Plus, it was her albums which the Metal Sisters Compilation Tape was made from. As you know, one of those songs was “The Stranger” by 3rd Stage Alert. While their EP came out in late 1984, I didn’t hear of them until I was sent that tape two years later and now, I’ve finally got around to listening to the six song EP.

First of all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the album, all songs are played very competently. Dave Drury is a decent enough singer and the rhythm section is as good as any. Furthermore, I am very impressed with the lead guitar work of Al Morris as he lays down some cool solos. The songs are good enough as well, the problem is that there is no ‘blow me away’ factor on the album. If I owned this album on cassette back then or CD now, it would go into my rotation but it wouldn’t be one that I would play, say on the way to a concert for extra motivation.

I think the reason why the Metal Sisters recorded “The Stranger” on the tape because it was the first one on the EP. While all the songs are good, there isn’t a stand out, track until track four, “Take That Jump.” That is the best song on the EP, with some good riffing and good backing vocals to accompany Dave and a cool guitar solo from Al. Yes, definitely, ” Take That Jump” is the hidden gem here.

Track Listing:

  1. The Stranger
  2. Steppin’ Out
  3. Superstar
  4. Take That Jump
  5. Adagio (For a Dead Soldier)
3rd Stage Alert

80sMetalman Theory: If Metal Blade Records had taken the time to grow the band, then 3rd Stage Alert would have gone on to achieve greater glories. The potential certainly was there as shown in this EP and if given the chance, could have matured into a great band. Unfortunately, they got lost in the ‘also rans’ of the many metal bands in the 1980s.

Next post: Another great save from Boppinsblog. The reason I couldn’t find the Ded Engine songs from the tape to put on the last post was because I had spelled their first name correctly. The above is how the band actually spelled their name. Therefore, the next post will be their debut album and we’ll get to see if they actually do sound like Judas Priest with a head cold.

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