Great Metal Albums of 1985: Stormtroopers of Death- Speak English or Die

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Out of all the great albums and concert memories which made my 1985, one album and one album alone, ended the year in style. That album happened to be “Speak English or Die” from the Stormtroopers of Death. My first experience of this album was while three friends and me were travelling to New York to see Motorhead and Wendy O Williams. It was then that I found out that the S.O.D. was opening the show. One friend had this album on cassette, so to satisfy all of our curiosities, put it on the deck. To make a long story short, I was completely blown away.

“Speak English or Die” was my introduction into thrash metal and what a grand introduction it was. The loud, fast and furious pounding was pure ecstasy for me even though it seemed to go against some of my earlier beliefs. First, it seemed to cater to the belief that heavy metal was all two power chords. Well, I wouldn’t have cared if it was one chord as the power of the metal simply won me over. As I was lurching towards the left, (more pushed), I should have been offended by the title of the album but I wasn’t. I guess I had a sense of humour. This was just a great album to have a good thrash to.

What else amused me about the album was the fact that it comprises 21 songs and the length of the album is less than half an hour. The longest song is “Freddie Kruger” coming in at two minutes and thirty-two seconds. I suspect my friend Frank might be right when he speculated that the band recorded everything on the first take. I wonder if my favourite track, “What’s That Noise” was intentional or that they had problems with recording and thought it might be fun to leave it in. Then there are four songs which are less than ten seconds. When I saw them live that night, it took them longer to introduce “The Ballad of Jimi Hendrix” than it was to play it, they played it twice.

A further reason why this album is good is that it is the only time I broke my concert superstition. I think it’s bad luck when going to a concert to listen to any of the bands you’re going to see that night on the way to it. Hearing this album prepared me for their kick ass live show on that fateful evening. The Stormtroopers of Death blew everyone away that night. From lead singer Billy Milano coming on stage dressed as Santa Claus and later doing a stage dive. What was more amazing was that the crowd managed to put him back on it. Then they played “What’s That Noise” live and ended things brilliantly with “Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues” and “Pussywhipped.” Two songs which would be probably banned these days for being too sexist. Although in the case of “Pussywhipped,” the only lyrics you can distinguish when sung is the chorus. Milano sings that fast. One song which is as relevant these days as it was then was “Fuck the Middle East.” I know many people feel that way. However, with the speed and pure power of the album, it doesn’t matter, this is just a fun album to have a good mosh and stage dive to.

Not all of the songs on “Speak English or Die” are politically incorrect. “United Forces” was the first song I know to call metalheads, punks and all others together. S.O.D. had the foresight to see that one big army could be mobilized if these people put aside their petty differences and focused on the music. Like Billy sings:

It doesn’t matter how you wear your hair, it’s what’s inside your head.

Track Listing:

  1. March of the S.O.D.
  2. Sergeant D and the S.O.D.
  3. Kill Yourself
  4. Milano Mosh
  5. Speak English or Die
  6. United Forces
  7. Chromatic Death
  8. Pi Alpha Nu
  9. Anti Procrastination Song
  10. What’s That Noise
  11. Freddie Kruger
  12. Milk
  13. Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues
  14. Pussywhipped
  15. Fist Banging Mania
  16. No Turning Back
  17. Fuck the Middle East
  18. Douche Crew
  19. Hey Gordy
  20. Ballad of Jimi Hendrix
  21. Diamonds and Rust (Extended Version)

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Stormtroopers of Death, with Freddie Kruger

Billy Milano- lead vocals

Scott Ian- guitar, backing vocals

Dan Lilker- bass, backing vocals

Charlie Benante- drums, guitar solo on United Forces

This could be thrash metal’s first supergroup since it comprised two members of Anthrax, Scott and Charlie. Dan Lilker  was in Anthrax but now is in Nuclear Assault and Billy Milano fronted the band Method of Destruction. The result here was my all time favourite album.

Like I’ve already said, “Speak English or Die” via the Stormtroopers of Death ended my 1985 in a mad thrashing way. It helped that the wave it rode on came about three weeks earlier when I received news that would mark a major turning point in my life. See, on December 2, 1985, I received a letter offering me acceptance to Queen Mary College, University of London. Anyway, this album not only ended 1985 well, it would make my 1986 and I would eventually take credit for bringing the Stormtroopers of Death and this album to England. Well, at least to Queen Mary College in London. Since this album ended my 1985, I thought it would be the appropriate end of the tour of this great year. Stay tuned for 1986, after a few between the years posts.

Next post: My Top Ten Live Albums

To buy Rock and Roll Children, in which there is an account of the mentioned concert, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1609763556?pf_rd_p=330fbd82-d4fe-42e5-9c16-d4b886747c64&pf_rd_r=ZDEWRHFMGBZVQVB0GP8D

 

 

10 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1985: Stormtroopers of Death- Speak English or Die”

  1. The Hendrix song – is it just them going “Ahhhhh! I’m dead!” Because I think every local band covered that song in 86.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. […] Source: Great Metal Albums of 1985: Stormtroopers of Death- Speak English or Die | 80smetalman’s Blog […]

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