Archive for Thrash Metal

Great Metal Albums of 1988: Riot- Thundersteel

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2023 by 80smetalman

In most cases, bands who try to be all things to all people on an album, usually fail on all accounts. People like putting things into nice little pigeon holes and if they can’t then it’s ignored. However, in the case of Riot’s “Thundersteel” album, they did that very thing successfully. The band intentionally took parts of everything metal had to offer in the 1980s, put it all together on one album and the result was a smashing album.

Riot took a long break in the mid 1980s. “Thundersteel” was their first album since the 1983 “Born in America” album and maybe that worked to their advantage when recording the album. The reason for the band’s five year inactivity isn’t known but Riot was one band that always seemed to be one album away from achieving superstardom, which always seemed to allude them. So, it can be speculated that since Riot had no label put on them, there was no pressure on them to sound a certain way.

What Riot did was pay attention to what was going on in the metal world and take all the best pieces of everything and put it on the album. The album kicks off with a very thrash metal sounding title track which definitely gets the blood pumping and lets you know that in no uncertain terms, Riot are back. An example of doing things right on the album comes in the form of the second track, “Fight or Fall.” Unlike some bands who might stick a ballad after the thrash metal, (yes, fools) “Fight or Fall” is a very strong power metal song and I do emphasize the power.

Next comes not only the best song on the album and proof that Riot knew exactly what they were doing, “Sign of the Crimson Storm.” Not only is it the best song on the album, it’s my second favourite Riot song of all time. Number one goes to “Swords and Tequila” from the “Fire Down Under” album. On this track, Riot successfully combine power and progressive metal. You get power chords and melodic parts together and Tony Moore’s soaring vocals add the right kind of spice to it.

You get speed metal on “Flight of the Warrior” only slowing down for the choruses. The rhythm section is spot on here and shows you can have a bit of fantasy with some speed and that speed carries on with “On Wings of Eagles.” The chorus isn’t as melodic as its predecessor but it doesn’t have to be as the drums and guitar riffs totally beat you to death. Then we come to the hidden gem, “Johnny’s Back.” A groovy bass line starts it off and then Riot show why they are considered by many as a power metal band. There’s power galore in this tune from start to finish and a very interesting guitar solo from Mark Reale.

After six songs, one might be wondering if Riot incorporate everything, where’s the token ballad? Well, the closest they come is on the very soft acoustic intro on “Bloodstreets.” However, that intro is short lived as things go into early Judas Priest territory and I think Riot would have made Priest proud on this one. They stick to that formula with penultimate track, “Run For Your Life.” In fact, Tony Moore’s vocals are very similar to Rob Halford’s on this one. “Thundersteel” closes with a very progressive “Buried Alive (Tell Tale Heart)” which is the longest track at over eight minutes. It starts with a funeral and then some more spoken words backed up by a cool lead guitar riff. All right, if I haven’t done so in the past, I will add Mark Reale to my list of great under appreciated guitarists. The song goes way out there in the progressive concept world. It’s a take on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” and Riot put a good metal spin on it, making it the perfect closer.

Track Listing:

  1. Thundersteel
  2. Fight or Fall
  3. Sign of the Crimson Storm
  4. Flight of the Warrior
  5. On Wings of Eagles
  6. Johnny’s Back
  7. Bloodstreets
  8. Run For Your Life
  9. Buried Alive (Tell Tale Heart)


Tony Moore- vocals

Mark Reale- guitar

Don Van Stavern- bass

Bobby Jarzombek- drums

And because I didn’t put this one on the post when I posted about the “Fire Down Under” album, I’m including it now.

In Riot’s case, maybe the five year layoff was a good thing because they came back with a blinder of an album in “Thundersteel.” While it still didn’t propel the band to superstardom, it’s still a great album.

Next post: Armoured Saint- Saints Will Conquer

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Great Metal Albums of 1988: Megadeth- So Far, So Good, So What

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2023 by 80smetalman

After a couple of lite metal albums, I thought I would go full on thrash with Megadeth’s “So Far, So Good, So What” album. Just like in 1986, what is now known as ‘The Big 4,” put out cool albums in 1988, although I won’t say they were pivotal in the careers of any of the Big 4 bands. And though it’s not intentional, having covered the albums of the other three bands, Megadeth is the last of the group whose album I’m writing about. I did the same in 1986 and I swear it just happened that way.

Megadeth went through some lineup changes following their previous blockbuster, “Peace Sells But Who’s Buying” album and this one. Drummer Gar Samuelson and guitarist Chris Poland were dismissed from the band for disruptive behaviour. Dave Mustaine claimed that Poland was selling the band’s equipment in order to score drugs. Samuelson was replaced by the band’s drum technician, Chuck Behler, although Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo considered joining the band. Mustaine would go through a few guitarists before sticking with Jeff Young. Apparently, Slash was considered.

“So Far, So Good, So What” begins with a lot of fanfare on the instrumental “Into the Lungs of Hell.” I like this song because it shoots down the Duranie belief that heavy metal musicians can only play three chords. It opens with a medieval sounding intro and goes a bit progressive at some points with the guitar even venturing into Joe Satriani territory. However, it retains the aggression which Megadeth has been known for. That aggression increases on “Set the World Afire.” It begins with a fast and furious intro slowing down to some cool riffs and the always sinister voice of Dave. It’s the first song he wrote after being fired from Metallica.

One song which has been the focus of much debate is the cover of the Sex Pistols classic, “Anarchy in the UK.” Some say that this was evidence that Dave was running out of fresh ideas while others praised the band’s cover of the song. I agree with the latter, it’s a great cover of a classic and bringing in Sex Pistols guitarist, Steve Jones, to play on it was, in my view, a stroke of genius. Megadeth go a bit concept on “Mary Jane,” which is a song about a witch who was killed by her father and cursed so that if anyone disturbs her resting place, they would suffer instant death. There does seem to be a lot happening at once in the song, the lead guitar in the background borders on distracting but that improves when that goes and the band gets down to business.

If you have ever been pulled over by the cops, then you might appreciate the theme of “502.” It’s the California code for drink driving, something Mustane would get busted for in March of the following year. It’s a fast paced speed metal song with some good guitar work. This is one you can play when driving down the highway at 90mph. If you don’t have a car, then it’s also good for a mosh pit. “In My Darkest Hour” was written in response to the death of Cliff Burton. The mood is set with the gloomy acoustic guitar intro followed by some harsh power chords. This song would have fit well on Metallica’s “Black Album” but Dave’s sinister voice puts the Megadeth stamp on it. The rhythm guitar on this song is very catchy, hypnotic even and it gets my vote for song of the album, especially with the guitar solo.

“Liar” is directed specifically at Chris Poland and Dave’s belief that he was selling equipment for drugs. It does have a cool guitar riff trade off at the beginning and the rhythm section really shines on it. I do love the line, “Your girlfriend got herpes” and the guitar solo which follows the line “You fuckin’ liar.” Bassist David Ellefson lays down a great bass line on the closer “Hook in Mouth.” The line is backed up with some cool thrash metal riffs and a guitar solo tradeoff. Pure thrash and the best way to end this album.

Track Listing:

  1. Into the Lungs of Hell
  2. Set the World Afire
  3. Anarchy in the UK
  4. Mary Jane
  5. 502
  6. In the Darkest Hour
  7. Liar
  8. Hook in Mouth


Dave Mustaine- lead vocals, guitars

David Ellefson- bass, backing vocals

Jeff Young- guitars

Chuck Behler- drums, percussion

Additional Musicians:

Steve Jones- guitar on “Anarchy in the UK”

It has been said that “So Far, So Good, So What” is largely overlooked in regards to other Megadeth albums. I admit that I am guilty of this as well, so I am glad that I went back and had a great thrash out.

Next post: Riot- Thundersteel

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Save Metal Odyssey!

Posted in Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2022 by 80smetalman

The very first metal blog I discovered, Metal Odyssey, is calling it quits after twenty years. Stone, the author, states that his traffic has decreased significantly and doesn’t have the support. From my own viewpoint, through reading his posts, I have been able to learn about new metal bands, albums and even had heads up on bands who would be touring around my area. It’s a damn shame to see him go. Therefore, I implore all my readers to click the link below and visit his page and show your support. Who knows, the next time it could be you.

Great Metal Albums of 1988: Metallica- And Justice for All

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2022 by 80smetalman

In the opinion of many, the 1988 albums I have already featured from two of the big four, Anthrax and Slayer, didn’t meet the bar set by their blockbuster previous albums. While I can somewhat agree on a small scale, I think those albums were great in their own right, I’ve already said so. Therefore, the question for Metallica’s “And Justice for All” album is if it lived up to the bar set by the previous defining album, “Master of Puppets.” Well, the fact that this was Metallica’s best selling album would answer the question in the affirmative.

My problem, although I wouldn’t call it a problem, is that “Master of Puppets” is my all time favourite Metallica album. So, where does that leave “And Justice for All?” The answer is quite simple, this album is a fantastic album. Metallica don’t lose any of the hunger they displayed when they recorded “Master of Puppets.” They still want to blow your mind at 300 mph and pound you into submission with power chords. Plus, the comparisons between these two iconic albums are plain to see. Take the first track, like my all time favourite Metallica song, “Battery,” “Blackened” also grabs you by the throat and demands that you are going to listen to this album to the death. They just do it slightly different. Instead of an acoustic guitar intro, “Blackened” opens with a more mellow lead guitar interlude, that’s how it sounds to me anyway, before going all out assault.

The title track is one reason this album falls ever so slightly below its predecessor. While it was good that they kept the same format, on “Master of Puppets,” you have eight songs in fifty-five minutes, they go beyond that on a couple of the songs here. While I love the title track, I do think it goes on a little too long and I can see why after playing it live, Kirk Hammett stated that they’re weren’t going to play that fucking song again. Then there is the case of two songs, which were ironically released as singles which, while great songs, aren’t as spectacular as the rest. I’m talking about “Eye of the Beholder” and “Harvester of Sorrow.” For me, they are slightly below the others on the album but here’s the thing, if they were on some of Metallica’s other albums, they would be the best songs on that album. That’s an indication of just how good “And Justice for All” is.

Speaking of singles, if you really want one from the album, then “One” is your single. What Metallica did here was to take everything which they did so well on the previous album and put it all into this song. The haunting slow parts, the guitar hooks of Kirk and the speed metal bits. Plus there is the spoken parts which add to the sinister feeling of the song and though it doesn’t come until the final quarter of the song, Kirk does lay down a mean guitar solo. This song is just brilliant and screw MTV and the radio stations for not playing it.

Following the best single on the album is the hidden gem, “The Shortest Straw.” It is simply Metallica doing what Metallica does best, going all out thrash. One outside criticism which has been aimed at the album is that Jason’s bass was significantly turned down on the album. Well, I get to hear it quite well on this track and it lays down the groove which the guitars and frantic drumming of Lars follow on with.

Again, finding very hard not to compare “And Justice For All” with “Master of Puppets,” I find a near similarity with the penultimate tracks. Anyone who knows anything about Metallica knows what a great instrumental “Orion” is on said previous album. Except for four lines of spoken word written by the late Cliff Burton and left in as a tribute to him, the rest of “To Live is to Die” is pretty much an instrumental. Like “Orion,” it’s masterfully done and dispels the belief held by Duranie types at the time that thrash metal musicians were only capable of playing two chords. This has given my an idea for my next post as I am heading north to play Santa Claus for some of my step-grandchildren and am not able to give a full length album the attention it deserves. I’m going to feature the two songs and see which one if either is better.

Track Listing:

  1. Blackened
  2. And Justice For All
  3. Eye of the Beholder
  4. One
  5. The Shortest Straw
  6. Harvester of Souls
  7. The Frayed Ends of Sanity
  8. To Live is to Die
  9. Dyers Eve


James Hetfield- vocals, rhythm guitar acoustic guitar, second solo on “To Live is To Die”

Kirk Hammett- lead guitar

Jason Newsted- bass

Lars Ulrich- drums

For all of my comparisons between this one and Metallica’s previous album, I will say that “And Justice for All” is a magnificent album in its own right. My second favourite of all time and it’s clear why whenever I listen to it.

Next post: Orion vs. To Live is to Die

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Great Metal Albums of 1988: Anthrax- State of Euphoria

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2022 by 80smetalman

It really perturbs me when an album following one that is considered a pinnacle album for said band is slated for not being as good. It seems it was the case quite often in 1988. Slayer’s “South of Heaven” got undeserved crap because the band slowed things up after “Reign in Blood.” Some even said that David Lee Roth’s “Skyscraper” album was far below the bar set by “Eat’Em and Smile,” I never thought so. You can include Celtic Frost among those as well. The same thing was said about Anthrax’s “State of Euphoria” album. In their case, it followed on from two super albums, “Spreading the Disease” and “Among the Living.” Measuring any album by those two is a difficult task in itself. However, while I don’t think “State of Euphoria” quite reaches that bar, it’s still a good album.

The first two tracks waste no time in assaulting delicate ears with their power thrash which made “Among the Living” such a great album. Those fast and furious tracks get the blood pumping and on “Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” Dan Spitz really rips a cool guitar solo. Something I noticed about the album is that Anthrax attempt to fuse the power thrash of “Among the Living” with the more melodic speed metal of “Spreading the Disease.” I think it works fine but some out there didn’t agree.

Now I get personal. I saw Anthrax three times in the 2010’s and while they kicked ass each and every time, I must say that I was slightly disappointed that they never played my favourite song from the album, “Making Me Laugh.” Those who know me know that I like just about any song which takes a swipe at television evangelists but Anthrax do it with such powerful finesse that this song really rocks! Joey’s constant change up on the vocals is done masterfully. It’s a total headbanger but I guess I will never get to hear it played live.

Following on is one I have heard them play live, “Antisocial.” Of course, I loved it when I heard it live and listening to it not live, I can easily see why it sounds so good live. What I didn’t know is that it’s actually a cover of a song from the French band, “Trust,” who I know from the soundtrack of the film “Heavy Metal.” I’ve never heard the original but this cover is brilliant. On “Who Cares Wins,” the band prove that social topics can be covered in thrash metal songs without the message behind the song getting lost. It’s a hard hitting song highlighting homelessness in America. It also confirms what an underrated bassist Frank Bello is.

Anthrax appear to bring a little horror into their metal on “Now It’s Dark.” After a haunting intro, the guitars kick in and just increase in speed. The song was inspired by the film, “Blue Velvet” and especially the sexual depravity of Frank Booth played by Dennis Hopper in the film. However, that isn’t the only film inspired song on the album. “Misery Loves Company” was inspired by the Stephen King novel and movie, “Misery” and this is what people forget about this album. Anthrax take some interesting topics and make them come alive through their thrash/speed metal approach. Hell, these guys should be praised for this effort! In between those two songs is the hidden gem, “Schism.” It’s a powerful thrash song which tackles racism. This is exceptionally important in 1988 when thrash metal was accused of being too white. Another at-a-boy goes out to the band here.

Track Listing:

  1. Be All, End All
  2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
  3. Making Me Laugh
  4. Anti- Social
  5. Who Cares Wins
  6. Now It’s Dark
  7. Schism
  8. Misery Loves Company
  9. 13
  10. Finale


Joey Belladonna- vocals

Scott Ian- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Dan Spitz- lead guitar, backing vocals

Frank Bello- bass

Charlie Benante- drums

So, “State of Euphoria” isn’t quite as good as the classics which came before it. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great album in its own right because it is. Any band who can take topical issues and films and bring out the message through thrash metal deserves the utmost respect.

Next post: Killer Dwarfs- Big Deal

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Great Metal Albums of 1988: Celtic Frost- Cold Lake

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2022 by 80smetalman

When I announced that my next post was going to be “Cold Lake” from Swiss metal band, Celtic Frost, I was warned that there was a lot of controversy surrounding the album. Reading the behind the scenes part of the making of the album, I am not surprised. Celtic Frost had actually disbanded following the disheartening end to their previous tour. However, at the request of the guitarist, Oliver Amberg, and producer, Tony Platt, lead singer’/guitarist, Tom Gabriel Warrior recruited new musicians and the album was made.

“Cold Lake” veers away from the thrash metal sounds of albums like “To Mega Therion” and the band’s early EPs and goes down a more traditional metal path. To be honest, it took me a couple of listens to get into it. Being used to the pounding thrash metal from those earlier albums, the slower, less aggressive sound took some getting used to. In fact, the band sound like they want to go back to their thrash roots on a lot of the songs but hold themselves back. A prime example of this is the track, “(Once) They Were Eagles.” The song sounds like it should be played at double the speed and the backing vocals sound less aggressive than what I was used to with Celtic Frost. Still, the musicianship on the song is top notch which is why I still like the song and the album.

The track where they finally hit their groove is “Cherry Orchards.” It’s reminiscent of some of the slower parts of Suicidal Tendencies’ “Join the Army” album and it sounds really good, possibly the best song on the album. Oliver Amberg rips a good guitar solo on this one. “Juice is Like Wine” is similar to it, although they speed it up a little. However, I will take “Cherry Orchards” over it.

Celtic Frost from the earlier albums

Another point of interest is that Tom used the new lineup to change the image of the band. On their earlier albums, the band had a more gothic, scary look but on this album, they go total glam metal. Some would argue that the music from the album doesn’t fit the image of the band but for me, who cares? I never really cared about physical appearance of any band, it’s what they put down on record is the only interest for me and “Cold Lake” has grown on me. I won’t put it in any of my top album lists but it’s still a good listen. It would have been even better if they left out the opening track. What were they doing there? Trying to rap or something?

Track Listing:

  1. Human II (Intro)
  2. Seduce Me Tonight
  3. Petty Obsession
  4. (Once) They Were Eagles
  5. Cherry Orchards
  6. Juice Like Wine
  7. Little Velvet
  8. Blood on Kisses
  9. Downtown Hanoi
  10. Dance Sleazy
  11. Roses Without Thorns
  12. Tease Me
  13. Mexican Radio

Note: The last two tracks were only available on the CD version.

Celtic Frost in 1988

Tom Gabriel Warrior- lead vocals, rhythm guitar, effects

Oliver Amberg- lead guitar, backing vocals, effects

Curt Victor Bryant- bass, effects, backing vocals, lead guitar on track 11

Steven Priestly- drums, backing vocals

Additional Musicians:

Michelle Villanueva- backing vocals on track 5

Brian Hewitt- rap on track 1, backing vocals on track 2

Xavier Russell- backing vocals on tracks 1 and 11

Right after the album was released, Oliver Amberg was fired from the band, the reason isn’t revealed to me. I have read that many Celtic Frost fans call “Cold Lake” an underrated album. I wouldn’t disagree. It just took some getting used to after the material they had put out on earlier albums.

Next post: David Lee Roth- Skyscraper

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Great Metal Albums of 1988: Slayer- South of Heaven

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2022 by 80smetalman

For some, Slayer’s “South of Heaven” album was controversial back in 1988. Some of the die-hard Slayer fans were put off because it was slower than the previous three thrash-fest albums while others were impressed that Slayer was able to slow it down a bit. Reading a little of the history, I can see where the band was coming from when they recorded this album. They didn’t want the album to sound exactly like their previous “Reign in Blood” album, no matter how fantastic that album was. Therefore, they slowed it down quite a bit.

That slow down comes through with the opening title cut. Doom metal wasn’t a thing back in 1988 but if doom metal bands wanted something to base their music on, then the song “South of Heaven” provided the perfect blue print. In spite of it being many miles an hour slower than what Slayer fans were used to, it has this hypnotic vibe which you can’t help bobbing your head along to. While not as slow, the best known song from the album follows along this path. However, the fact that they played “Mandatory Suicide” three of the four times I saw them live and they might have played it the fourth time but I only caught twenty minutes of Slayer at Download 2017. The post on that day explains why. Anyway, while not quite as slow as the opener, it still draws you in with those hypnotic chords and while it might not sound like thrash metal Slayer, the lyrics let you know that it is indeed a Slayer song. Not many other bands would sing about such topics back then. While not as spectacular as “Mandatory Suicide, ” “Live Undead” is in the same vein although the speed does increase in places, especially at the end.

With everything said, Slayer don’t totally abandon the sound which made them a household name in thrash metal. “Silent Scream” bears witness to that and while I wouldn’t call “Behind the Crooked Cross” a thrash song, it is still faster than many of the other songs and it’s a good metal tune in it’s own right and the King-Hanneman guitar solo trade off is fantastic. They do go more full thrash on “Read Between the Lies,” which is another song which takes a dig at TV evangelists. Well, they made themselves a prime target for metal bands. I do love the guitar work on this song and Dave’s drumming is noteworthy here as well.

Now it’s time for the song which I not only consider the hidden gem of the album but the hidden gem of the entire Slayer discography. I’m talking about “Ghosts of War.” Most people associate anti-war songs with a hippy type playing an acoustic guitar but Slayer proves that you can use thrash to get your point across. “Ghosts of War” is the thrashiest, headbanging song on the album and I love everything about it. From the cool intro to the pounding chords, Tom’s vocals being as good as ever, the guitar solo tradeoff and even when they slow the song down toward the end, that power is not lost. Okay, it’s my all time favourite Slayer song and I admit that I was a little disappointed, (I stress a little), when they didn’t play it any of the times I saw them live.

For me, the final three songs, while all good song, aren’t as strong as the rest of the album. Saying that, “Cleanse the Soul” has a cool intro before going more traditional Slayer thrash metal. Following that is a cool cover of Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor.” They do it justice. The album closes on a slower note with “Spill the Blood.” It opens with a very un-Slayer like acoustic intro before heading back into the realms of doom metal. Believe me when I say that it’s a smashing way to end the album.

Track Listing:

  1. South of Heaven
  2. Silent Scream
  3. Live Undead
  4. Behind the Crooked Cross
  5. Mandatory Suicide
  6. Ghosts of War
  7. Read Between the Lies
  8. Cleanse the Soul
  9. Dissident Aggressor
  10. Spill the Blood

Tom Arraya- vocals, bass

Kerry King- guitar

Jeff Hanneman- guitar

Dave Lombardo- drums

Here’s a little hint when listening to “South of Heaven:” Forget “Reign in Blood” or any of their previous albums and listen and judge it on its own merit. While not a thrash fest, I think it’s a great album, even if Kerry King doesn’t think so.

Next post: Mass- Take You Home

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Dream Death- Journey Into Mystery

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2022 by 80smetalman

Here’s another album my sister passed onto me, probably because she wasn’t impressed with it. After my Wrath post, she stated on Facebook that the album was given to her to review for her college newspaper and she disliked it so much that she said the band should have paid her to listen to it. Dawn was never into thrash so that is enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that she didn’t like Dream Death’s “Journey Into Mystery” album.

What I found was cool about the record when I took it out to play was that it was blue. I never saw a record coloured other than black before then so I really liked the light blue see through record. If it wasn’t so much trouble, I would go up into my attic and get it for all to see. In addition, when reading the credits on the album, it has the usual ‘Special Thanks’ part but it also has a ‘No Thanks’ section. Making that list was the band’s high school in Pennsylvania, trends and trendy people, conformists and other wankers. I could agree with the band on all of those. Now onto the album.

Doom metal wasn’t a term back in 1987 so Dream Death could be credited as being a pioneer of the sub-genre. “Journey Into Mystery” is a unique blend of doom and thrash. The album comes rocking out with the more thrash, “Back From the Dead” and then goes more doom with “The Elder Race.” The slower power chords are almost hypnotic in some places on that track.

Track three, “Bitterness and Hatred,” has a Suicidal Tendencies feel to it. It starts out doom metal and going mid tempo metal and then back to doom for the chorus but thrash speed in the middle before slowing down to the doom metal conclusion. This was something Suicidal Tendencies did with their first two albums and Dream Death do a good job on this track. The changes keep one interested. However, “Black Edifice” sounds like it wants to go off at 800 mph but the band manage to keep it reigned in and give you a more doom metal track. It does follow the formula set down by its predecessor where they speed it up in the middle. It’s the first song to have a really cool guitar solo.

Side two does start off with some powerful thrash only slowing down to catch its breath between verses and taking off again. “Divine In Agony” is a good way to kick off the second half of the album as the three remaining tracks are all strong tracks. “Hear My Screams” has a horror movie type intro before going more thrash. They go more thrash with this one but the doom metal returns on “Sealed in Blood.” This has a Black Sabbath type intro and then when it kicks up, it doesn’t go thrash. This track could be a blueprint for future doom metal merchants to take from. It has a cool guitar solo backed up by a cool rhythm section.

The album closes out with my favourite track on the album, “Dream Death.” This is a great thrash song and because I wasn’t sure about the record after the first few listens, it was this track that kept me coming back to it. It starts mid-paced but quickly increases its speed. The steady rhythm between the first and second verses and before the guitar solo make a good headbang. However, it does slow down to give a cool doom metal bridge. The track punctuates what the band was attempting to do throughout the rest of the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Back From the Dead
  2. The Elder Race
  3. Bitterness and Hatred
  4. Black Edifice
  5. Divine in Agony
  6. Hear My Screams
  7. Sealed in Blood
  8. Dream Death
Dream Death

Brian Lawrence- lead and backing vocals, guitar

Terry Weston- guitar, backing vocals

Ted Williams- bass, backing vocals

Mike Smail- drums, backing vocals

My sister might not have liked “Journey Into Mystery” but I do. The album demonstrates how a hungry band will just pull out all stops and go for it. These days, I will hold it up as a blueprint for doom metal.

Next post: Guns and Roses- Appetite for Destruction

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Wrath- Nothing to Fear

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 11, 2022 by 80smetalman

By the end of the 1980s and well into the 90s, my sister Dawn was not only making heavy metal tapes and sending them to me, she was also offloading albums she was no longer interested in onto me. Actually, she sent me this album in 1989 but learning from past mistakes, I have learned to check the release dates and so I know that “Nothing to Fear” by Chicago based thrash metallers, Wrath, came out in 1987.

I feel a need to cut right to the chase here. Let me ask you all out there, have you ever started listening to a band and you are totally digging the music and then the lead singer starts singing and become turned off? This has been the case with this album. Let me be clear, I am in no way saying that Gary Golwitzer is a bad singer. In fact, he does have a decent voice. However, I do not think his vocals are suited to thrash metal. For me, he is too high pitched for thrash and there are times when I find the vocals a little annoying. He would have been better suited for a straight forward metal band. I’ll can close my eyes and even hear him singing prog metal but not thrash.

Admittedly, it is a big shame because the other four members of Wrath really know how to play. Guitarists Scott Nyquist and Mike Nyrkkanen make an excellent guitar duo. Their guitar solo tradeoffs on many of the tracks are just downright superb! The most notable being on “Painless,” where the tradeoff isn’t the normal one guitarist plays the first solo and the second one plays the other. No, these two trade back and forth throughout the solo and to me it just sounds fantastic! Plus, they play some great opening riffs on that track and on “R.I.P. (Ripped Into Pieces)” as well.

Naturally, we can’t forget the rhythm section either and I can honestly say that Gary Modica and Mike Fron make a very good one. Gary’s bass lines are great and he does a little solo on “Painless.” Hell, it just took over as my favourite track on the album. Because not only the musicianship is ace but Gary Golwitzer’s vocals aren’t annoying. Then again, this number goes a little slower almost blues like. Still, I should mention the song it replaces, “Hell is Full.” Again, Gary’s vocals do fit the song and I love the acoustic intro before it blasts off into the ionosphere and a great guitar solo. Oh yes, back to the rhythm section. Let me simply say that Mike Fron makes his mark all over this album. One notable effort is on “Fear Itself” but he is another reason why “Painless” goes to number one. I’ll go out on a limb and say in the category of thrash drummers, I put him up there with Lars Ulrich, Charlie Benante, Dave Lombardo and Ventor.

Track Listing:

  1. R.I.P. (Ripped Into Pieces)
  2. Mutants
  3. Hell is Full
  4. Painless
  5. Fear Itself
  6. Sudden Death
  7. Incineration/Caustic Sleep
  8. When Worlds Collide
  9. Victims of the Void

Note: I have discovered that “When Worlds Collide” was on the soundtrack of the 1990 film “Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (Leather Face).”


Gary Golwitzer- vocals

Scott Nyquist- guitar

Mike Nyrkkanen- guitar

Gary Modica- bass

Mike Fron- drums

Here’s a better picture of how they looked back then

I honestly think that if Wrath had a singer with a voice more suited to thrash, then they would have gone a lot further because they sure as hell can play. “Nothing to Fear” proves it.

Next post: Dream Death- Journey Into Mystery

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Great Metal Albums of 1987: Bitch- The Bitch is Back

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2022 by 80smetalman

Talk about a snowball effect! Two posts ago, when I reviewed Lizzy Borden, it was pointed out to me that singer Betsy Bitch sang on one of the tracks of the “Terror Rising” album. Now, the name was known to me back in the 80s, (it’s hard to miss such a name), but I never got around to listening to any of her music. You know, the normal excuse of too much music and not enough time. Therefore, I decided to investigate Betsy and her band, Bitch, and I learned that they put out an album in 1987 called, “The Bitch is Back.” I’ve given it a few listens and I pretty much like what I’ve heard.

Betsy Bitch

The rest of the band kick off the album with a bass solo followed by a guitar solo on opening track, “Do You Want to Rock.” However, it’s only a few seconds later when Betsy comes in on the vocals and any idea that her memorable name is used to disguise a lack of vocal talent is smashed to bits straight away. Betsy has the voice! I give a definite “yes” to the question the opening track is asking. Things speed up on the next track, “Hot and Heavy,” almost to speed metal and this is the track which proves that the rest of the band is just as capable as their singer. It’s definitely one of the stronger tracks on the album.

As I listen to “The Bitch is Back,” the more impressed I become with guitarist David Carruth. His riffs and solos are top notch and I find it difficult to believe that his talents have been hidden for so long. He really shines on “Me and Boys.” He singlehandedly saves a song with predictable lyrics from being filler. Bitch goes doom metal on “Storm Raging Up.” There’s a really gloomy sounding intro before turning total metal and the musician to note on this one is drummer, Robby Settles.

You might have noticed the title of the album is an old Elton John song and there is a cover of it on the album. I don’t know how Elton might have felt about it but I like it. Betsy’s spin on the song is very cool and her father plays saxophone on it. Not the best song on the album though definitely not filler, it brings out another positive point, there is an air of humour to the album.

I can’t leave out the bass player as Ron Cordy puts down some good bass grooves. His turn to shine comes on “Head Banger.” His bassline while David hammers out his solo brings an extra dimension of cool to the song. Then the pace picks up on “Fist to Face.” This is one to get a mosh pit going as it nears the borderline of thrash metal. “Turns Me On” has a slower, bluesy feel to hit and David works his guitar magic on it. However, they step on the gas and go out at thrash metal speed on the closer “Skullcrusher.” It does end the album on the right note.

Track Listing:

  1. Do You Want to Rock
  2. Hot and Heavy
  3. Me and the Boys
  4. Storm Raging Up
  5. The Bitch is Back
  6. Head Banger
  7. Fist to Face
  8. Turns Me On
  9. Skullcrusher

Betsy ‘Bitch’ Weiss- lead vocals

David Carruth- guitar

Ron Cordy- bass

Robby Settles- drums

Additional Musicians:

Mick Adrian- additional backing vocals

Joe Romersa- keyboards on “Hot and Heavy,” “Storm Raging Up” and “Skullcrusher,” additional backing vocals

Stanley ‘Dad of a Bitch’ Weiss- saxophone on “The Bitch is Back”

One reason I think Bitch didn’t become more well known is the already mentioned over saturated metal market at the time. However, if I was to find one fault it’s the song writing. The song subjects and lyrics are typical of the time. Saying that, if Bitch had been able to mature, then they could have been a force to be reckoned with in the metal world.

Next post: WASP- Live in the Raw

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