Great Metal Albums of 1986: Killer Dwarfs- Stand Tall

It seems like an age and a half ago when I revealed that the Killer Dwarfs were my favourite Canadian band. Linking past with present, I remember that there could have been a time when this might not have been the case. Having picked up their debut album in 1985, which was recorded in 1983, I hadn’t heard anything from them and so they were pushed into a ‘saved’ file somewhere in my memory while I listened to more current music of the time. Then, in the late summer of 85, I bought that copy if “Metallion” magazine and after reading all the articles and interviews, when I got near the end, there was a review of a gig in Toronto by none other than, you guessed it, the Killer Dwarfs. Reading the favourable review of the show and a quote by lead singer, Russ ‘Dwarf’ Graham, who said the band was working on new material, I searched the magazines and any other sources for news of a new album, then, a year later, in a famous metal record shop in London called “Shades,” I discovered their second album, “Stand Tall.”

Thanks to that magazine article, I already knew there were line up changes with the new album. Guitarist Bryce Trewin and bass Ange Federro were replaced by Mike Hall and Ron Mayer respectively. That didn’t stop me from getting the album and taking it back to my halls of residence to listen to it. I liked what I heard straight away.

Like with other metal bands in 1986, synthesizers were introduced into the Killer Dwarfs’ sound. That comes through with the opening title track but while the synths are there, they play a supporting role because that song sounds great. The same can be said for the third track, “Up to You and Me.” The synths compliment the song without taking it over and listening to it recently a long layoff, I never realized how good a bassist Ron Mayer was because he really does shine on this particular track.

After that though, things go more metal for the rest of the album. While Mike Hall plays some really good solos on the first three tracks, it is “Borderline” where he is finally let of the leash and allowed to play some brilliant guitar riffs as well as a great solo. Then with the closing track of side one, (I had this on cassette), the band goes absolutely hard rocking nuts on “Through Animal Eyes.” This is a pure metal song and I only wish the producer would have turned Mike’s guitar up a fraction more because then it would be killer, pun intended.

While all the songs on “Stand Tall” are worthy of being my favourite track, the one that starts of side two gets the award. “Keep the Spirit Alive” has a great guitar riff and a bass which stamps its mark from the very beginning. Listening to the lyrics, I think they might have been talking about themselves. They had almost disappeared only to come back with this great album. I have always found the lyrics quite inspirational and it is here where I will sing the praises of Russ Graham. I going to put my head in the noose and declare that he is second to Danny Vaughn as one of the most underrated vocalists in rock or metal. His vocals here are just simply magnificent and some great solos from Mike help propel the track to number one.

Needless to say, though I’m going to say it anyway, following “Keep the Spirit Alive,” the rest of the album doesn’t in any way lessen in quality. “Believe in Me” is a pure metal song and I remember the only time I saw the Killer Dwarfs live in 1988, Russ used the song to encourage audience participation. He chose the right song. “Do or Die” comes the closest to being a filler track but in reality, it is nowhere near being filler. It has a pounding guitar and bass sound and it’s on this track were drummer Darrell Millar gets my praise. He does have some good drum rolls on the track. After the track “Out in the Streets,” which has some more good lead guitar work from Hall, we go come to the closer, “Bite the Hands That Feeds.” It gives the impression that it is recorded live but I don’t think it actually is. No matter, its a great closing track for the album which does the job any good closing track should do, get you wanting to listen to the album again. All four members come together very nicely on this one.

Track Listing:

  1. Stand Tall
  2. Human Survival
  3. Up to You and Me
  4. Borderline
  5. Through Animal Eyes
  6. Keep the Spirit Alive
  7. Believe in Me
  8. Do or Die
  9. Out in the Streets
  10. Bite the Hand That Feeds
Killer Dwarfs

Russ ‘Dwarf’ Graham- vocals

Mike ‘Dwarf’ Hall- guitars

Bad Ronald ‘Dwarf’ Mayer- bass

Darrell ‘Dwarf’ Millar- drums

For me, knowing that not only the Killer Dwarfs were back but back with a fantastic album was another great way to end my 1986. While they never came to London to support the album was disappointing, I still had it to fall back on and if you thought I gushed over “Stand Tall,” then wait till I get to their next album in 1988.

Next post: Megadeath- Peace Sells But Who’s Buying

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13 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Killer Dwarfs- Stand Tall”

  1. I have this one on vinyl. Pretty good but the videos were very creative. Good band caught them opening for Skid Row back in 92…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like I completely missed out on this band by not having access to Much Music until the early ’90s. They certainly were not getting radio time on Sudbury’s crappy rock stations!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They came out with some great songs! But when I think of 1986 in Heavy Metal music, Judas Priest’s “Turbo” immediately comes to mind! I remember buying the tape brand new that year. I wore that tape OUT!!!! LOLOL

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Turbo was one of the great metal albums that came out that year. You’ve obviously liked that tape though.


  5. Solid album. But still growing. Darker than I anticipated.

    Liked by 1 person

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