Running Wild – The First Years of Piracy / Ready For Boarding (Expanded Edition) Reissues


Running Wild – The First Years of Piracy / Ready For Boarding (Expanded Edition) Reissues
BMG
Release Date: 27/05/22
Running Time: The First Years of Piracy – 00:42:41
Running Time: Ready For Boarding – 01:26:01
Review by Simon Black
The First Years of Piracy – 9/10
Ready For Boarding – 8/10
Overall – 8.5/10

Once upon a time, there was a rather wonderful independent record label known as Noise Records. Started by the force of nature that is one-time jailed anarchist turned entrepreneur Karl-Ulrich Walterbach. The label and its punk predecessor Aggressive Rockproduktionen were born in a Berlin squat, with Walterbach making all of his business related calls on their behalf from a payphone in the street outside. Despite these humble origins, the label is pretty much single handedly responsible for establishing the German Heavy Metal and Thrash scenes and lifting them by their boot straps out of the underground, which at the time were predominated by the USA and the UK (much as Metal Blade and Music For Nations were doing elsewhere). If you are interested in the history of this fascinating label, then I thoroughly recommend the marvellous “Damn the Machine – The Story of Noise Records” book by David E. Gehlke for a fantastic insight into both the label and its Marmite-like owner.

The biggest hit from this stable was without doubt Power Metal progenitors Helloween, but it also gave a voice to Thrash stalwarts Kreator and many others. At this point they became Noise International, but one foot remained firmly in Germany and mainland Germany and that’s where bands like Tankard and Running Wild had their core audience. The label suffered greatly as music consumption changed forever and finally folded early in the 2000’s. Since then a number of records from that period have been lost to time and impossible to get hold of. Enter BMG, who have swept up the IP, and this month have starting giving some long lost gems the chance to see the light of day.

Running Wild had not really come across my radar at the time and to be fair they never really took off in the UK, but they have remained a stalwart of the scene, without ever really hitting any major levels of success globally, which is a shame. The band are still cranking new material out, but these two releases have been like rocking horse droppings for some time. They also have the historical accolade of being the first band to bring the concept of Pirate Metal to the world, although to be fair this was only a part of their output.

“The First Years of Piracy” is in fact a re-recording of material from their first three albums. Now before you run away screaming at that thought, you have to remember that Walterbach had humble business origins and was good at making money … most of which was achieved by not actually spending any in the production process if he could possibly avoid it. Consequently those early albums were recorded fast and furiously and with a revolving door of a line-up, so in the main sounded dire. So the chance to re-cut their more successful tracks in a decent studio without the need for pre-production to bed in the new line-up was a wise decision at the time and it’s one of those rare instances were the re-recordings work infinitely better than the originals. This is as much due to the fact that vocalist / guitarist Rock ‘n’ Rolf had improved his technique 100% by this point in their careers, but when you’ve had a bit of success you can also get a bit tougher with your label, and since Walterbach always wanted his bands to press something new every year, this was clearly a stop-gap to gel the line-up and give them time to write something new. That and the fact that it’s been out of print for decades, make this a welcome reissue for many of the band’s stalwart fans.

The music is all thunderously fast Speed and Heavy Metal, without a single cod-Folk cliché or an accordion in sight – the piratical elements being kept to some of the lyrics and the original album artwork. Unlike a lot of material from the 80’s it actually stands up well (although it was re-cut in 1991), as it’s the kind of classic Metal that never goes out of fashion and passes the test of time – to the point that I am scratching my head as to why I had never really listened to them before. This is by the book Heavy Metal yes, but effective and lively with it, with a classic twin guitar style and the typical vocal style of the period that happens when your frontman also plays the axe. The production values are so much better than the original recordings to boot, so that it really sounds like a band re-born and is a great jumping on point if, like me, you are quite new to the band.

The expanded edition of “Ready For Boarding” seems to be a new beast entirely, expanded to a full two CD set. The original version had ten tracks recorded in 1987 in Munich on the back of the definitive “Under Jolly Roger” album, but this version has a full second disk from a later gig in Düsseldorf in 1989 when the band were touring “Death and Glory” (previously available only as a live VHS), so you are definitely getting your money’s worth. The sound of the first disk is rich and fat, with the crowd present enough in the mix to get the energy and a downmix that feels fresh, fat and intimate. It captures the formidable energy this band exude live, which was so often lacking in their early vinyl, which was one of the reasons the re-release above was such a step up from these. 

The second disk has a way crisper sound, perhaps not surprising given that it had a visual counterpart (also available as a DVD on some versions of this re-package), and although it sounds a little further away, the mix is cleaner and crisper, allowing the depth of the instruments and the subtleties of the interplay to stand out a bit, compared to the slightly more rough and ready Munich show. This second disk is a band playing bigger shows and more confidently, and it’s really clear that they are at the top of their game here, as is the gradual improvement in Rolf’s voice as he hones his technique. Two live disks is not too hard on the ear either, as it’s only ‘Raw Ride’ and the perennially popular ‘Prisoner Of Our Time’ that get repeated on both, which keeps things fresh. 

This pair of re-releases is a chance to see a band at their peak, and for a fan who has been deprived of these gems, a worthwhile edition to the collection. Here’s to more booty from the Noise treasure chest…

‘Prisoner Of Our Time’ Live Video

TRACKLISTING:

The First Years of Piracy 
01. Under Jolly Roger
02. Branded and Exiled
03. Soldiers of Hell
04. Raise Your Fist
05. Walpurgis Night
06. Fight the Oppression
07. Marching To Die
08. Raw Ride
09. Diamonds of the Black Chest
10. Prisoner of Our Time

Ready For Boarding
01. Hymn of Long John Silver (Intro) (Live In Munich)
02. Under Jolly Roger (Live In Munich)
03. Genghis Khan (Live In Munich)
04. Raise Your Fist (Live In Munich)
05. Purgatory (Live In Munich)
06. Mordor (Live In Munich)
07. Diabolic Force (Live In Munich)
08. Raw Ride (Live In Munich)
09. Adrian (S.O.S.) (Live In Munich)
10. Prisoner of Our Time (Live In Munich)
11. Intro (Live in Düsseldorf)
12. Riding The Storm (Live in Düsseldorf)
13. Bad To The Bone (Live in Düsseldorf)
14. Raw Hide (Live in Düsseldorf)
15. Raging Fire (Live in Düsseldorf)
16. Tortuga Bay (Live in Düsseldorf)
17. Uaschtschun (Live in Düsseldorf)
18. Bass Solo (Live in Düsseldorf)
19. Conquistadores (Live in Düsseldorf)
20. Prisoner Of Our Time (Live in Düsseldorf)

LINE-UP:

The First Years of Piracy: 
Rock ‘n’ Rolf – Vocals, Guitars
Jens Becker – Bass, Vocals
AC – Drums, Vocals
Axel Morgan – Guitars, Vocals

Ready For Boarding:
Jens – Bass, Vocals
Stefan – Drums, Vocals
Rock ‘n Rolf – Vocals (lead), Guitars
Majk – Guitars, Vocals

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Xentrix – For Whose Advantage / Kin (Re-Issues)

Xentrix – For Whose Advantage / Kin (Re-Issues)
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 22/04/22
Running Time: 01:16:00 (FWA) 01:02:00 (Kin)
Review by Paul Hutchings 
8/10

Having released their debut Shattered Existence in 1989, Xentrix wasted little time in getting sophomore album “For Whose Advantage” out, which cemented their position in the UK Thrash big 4 alongside Acid Reign, Onslaught and Sabbat. A UK tour support slot with Bay Area behemoths Testament had focused attention and “For Whose Advantage” demonstrated the progression the band were making. 

To promote “For Whose Advantage”, the band toured with Skyclad as well as picking up slots with Slayer and Sepultura. It’s an album that shows a maturity in song-writing and technical playing, whilst still retaining that American feel. There is still plenty of links to the style of Metallica – listen to the title track and then ‘The Shortest Straw’ for an example, but there was enough separation to allow Xentrix to form their own sound. 

It kicks off in fine style, with ‘Questions’ and the title track bringing the first two slabs of thrash to the fore. Lyrically the band asked questions about society in general. ‘The Human Condition’ is a prime candidate. It’s organic, assured and flows nicely whilst retaining an edge that Thrash at the time was just starting to lose. 

The tracks are well-paced, solidly delivered with Astley’s vocals carrying a slightly raspy manner, which still works well when listening today. Although there was a definite formula in the band’s writing, they were able to vary things a bit with ‘The Bitter End’ a slower, thicker riffed track that moved the band away from the relentless Thrash attack and into a more melancholic, yet no less angry outfit. Xentrix also had the confidence to throw in a gentle acoustic interlude in ‘New Beginnings’ which helped break up the album. The second half shows no sign of slowing, with fan favourite ‘Kept in the Dark’ probably the standout track although the frantic cover of Gillan’s ‘Running White Face City Boy’ can’t compete with the real thing.  

Whilst the original release contained ten songs, this reissue gets the bonus treatment, with the inclusion of 1991’s “Dilute To Taste” EP bulking this package to a whooping 76 minutes and 16 tracks in total. As well as a couple of studio recordings, the inclusion of four live tracks shows the power of the band at their peak, albeit with the inevitable cover of ‘Ghostbusters’ in the mix as well. “For Whose Advantage” stands tall and proud today, and for me is one of the strongest UK Thrash albums of the time. 

It was perhaps inevitable that as the fashions and tastes changed in the world of metal in the early 90’s that Xentrix would tweak their sound a little. 1992’s “Kin”, the band’s third release retained some of the band’s Thrash roots, but moved to a more Progressive sound with slower, more commercial sounding tracks. Given that Metallica (yes, back to them again) had not long released the massive “Black” album, it’s understandable. One listen to the likes of ‘Release’ and ‘See Through You’ you’ll see why the comparisons were made at the time. Brooding, atmospheric and with a much more Power Metal approach in part, the band themselves in retrospect consider the album’s change in direction to be their biggest mistake. 

Listening to it again today, there is still plenty to enjoy. It’s not as aggressive as the first two records, but the musicianship remains tight, album opener ‘Order of Chaos’ remains a tune and if you can step away from the unavoidable Metallica comparisons, in particular Astley’s Hetfield lite vocals, then there are some gems hidden away. You just need to work a bit harder to find them. 

The repackaged version includes four bonus tracks including a cover of Teardrop Explodes ‘Reward’, which doesn’t add much to the original alongside three demos which were planned for the fourth album with Roadrunner which of course, never materialised. “Kin” isn’t a bad album, but it pales against its predecessors. However, with new packaging and liner notes as well as some solid remastering, these two releases are perfect for both the avid fan and those who may not have them in their collection. 

TRACKLISTING:

For Whose Advantage
01. Questions 
02. For Whose Advantage?
03. The Human Condition 
04. False Ideals 
05. The Bitter End 
06. New Beginnings 
07. Desperate Remedies 
08. Kept In The Dark 
09. Black Embrace 
10. Running White Faced City Boy 
11. Pure Thought 
12. Shadows Of Doubt 
13. Balance Of Power (live) 
14. Kept In The Dark (live) 
15. Crimes (live) 
16. Ghostbusters (live)

Kin
01. The Order Of Chaos
02. A Friend To You 
03. All Bleed Red
04. No More Time 
05. Waiting 
06. Come Tomorrow 
07. Release 
08. See Through You 
09. Another Day 
10. Reward 
11. Never Be (Demo) 
12. The Hand That Feeds Itself (Demo) 
13. Silence (Demo

LINE-UP:
Kristian Havard – Lead Guitar
Dennis Gasser – Drums
Chris Astley – Vocals, rhythm Guitar
Paul McKenzie – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Armored Saint – March Of The Saint, Delirious Nomad & Raising Fear (Re-issues)

Armored Saint – March Of The Saint, Delirious Nomad & Raising Fear (Re-issues)
Metal Blade
Release Date: 15/04/22
Running Time: March Of The Saint 38:45
Running Time: Delirious Nomad 41:50
Running Time: Raising Fear 51:45
Review by Simon Black
March Of The Saint 7/10
Delirious Nomad 8/10
Raising Fear 9/10

Their story of a band formed in High School by brothers Phil and Gonzo Sandoval was common for bands forged in the early 80’s, although seems like another world now. Armored Saint are always a band who got good critical responses both live and on vinyl, yet somehow despite some good support slots back in those days they never became as globally successful as they could.

I came to the Armored Saint party quite late and despite being a keen proponent of them over the years, this is the first time I have actually had the chance to listen to their early days. This is probably because here in the UK almost no effort had been made to publicise and promote them in the 1980’s, and the first time I saw a physical copy of one of their albums was not until 1990’s landmark “Symbol of Salvation”. To be honest, it wasn’t much better in their native USA, as this band could have been way more successful in the homeland if they had stayed with Metal Blade (who had got them off the starting blocks and pressed their first EP) instead of getting lured to the first major label who came along. That major label was Chrysalis and these three reissues hail from that period, although Metal Blade now have the rights, which means someone might actually hear them this time round.

“March of the Saint” kicks things off and interestingly only recycles one track from their self-titled Metal Blade debut (‘False Alarm’, which had a great opening bass riff, but sounds like the band were trying to re-record something from Iron Maiden’s “Killers” period, so feel a little out of place). Although the strengths and soulfully charismatic delivery of John Bush’s vocals stand this out clearly as being Armored Saint, it feels almost like a prototype version of the band who haven’t quite found their feet in the song-writing department or full confidence in the technical abilities of the instrumentalists. This comes soon enough and it’s telling that only ‘Can U Deliver’ still crops up regularly in their live sets. It’s by far the strongest song on here and hints at the directions of things to come, although the soulful ‘Take A Turn’ shows how Mr Bush can turn out a Power Ballad of epic proportions when the need arises. It’s an interesting debut, with OK production values for the period, a couple of really strong tracks and no noticeable padding.

“Delirious Nomad” has noticeably stronger production values from the get go, a much sharper and cleaner overall sound, which benefits John Bush, enormously and who really hits his stride from here on in, having honed his performance and learnt how to use his considerable gifts. Where the album struggles is by this point founding guitarist Phil Sandoval has left the band (who continue as a four piece until after Chrysalis are out of the picture), but it leaves a big hole in their sound only having the one guitarist. That means despite some strong performance, that fat meaty sound that is so distinctively missing from Armored Saint at this point. It feels like one step forward and two steps back for now, as that twin guitar sound was a key strength and a backbone in the way they phrased their song writing.

“Raising Fear” sees Armored Saint well and truly upping their game. Whereas March was a straight-ahead Heavy Metal album and Nomad felt a bit rudderless, this sees the band firing on all cylinders. They’ve adjusted to their four piece status by taking a more edgy Rock ’n’ Roll feel to the writing and arrangements and it’s an element that will stay from here on in. Even when Phil Sandovil returns and adds some Power Metal heaviness to proceedings, that edginess remains and is still a part of their sound to this day and also suits Bush’s raw and soulful voice down to a tee. It’s one of the key reasons why American Power Metal is so distinct from it’s Euro counterpart, as although both started from the same root, Armored Saint forged a unique sound out of adversity. 

During the whole period these three albums were being recorded, newer bands were struggling with labels interested only in the burgeoning new fads of Thrash and Hair Metal, with Traditional Metal left to fend more or less for itself. The established bands did fine in general, but this Trad influenced act that would end up effectively forging the US version of Power Metal single-handed struggled to find their feet and with poor support from the label an no small amount of adversity it’s not surprising.

“Raising Fear” really feels like the first album of the band that I love and the starting point of their unique sound. It’s such a shame that it’s the final one from their original label, as with the poor support from them thrown in to the mix as well, it barely made a dent on original release. When I finally got around to discovering them on their next studio release (the seminal “Symbol of Salvation”) they were almost a different band. Phil Sandoval was back, but Dave Prichard who had helped forge the band’s guitar sound tragically passed away during the recording of the album. What came next was an absolute masterpiece, but that’s for another day….

TRACKLISTING:
March Of The Saint
01. March Of The Saint
02. Can U Deliver
03. Mad House
04. Take A Turn
05. Seducer
06. Mutiny On The World
07. Glory Hunter
08. Stricken By Fate
09. Envy
10. False Alarm

Delirious Nomad
01. Long Before I Die
02. Nervous Man
03. Over The Edge
04. The Laugh
05. Conqueror
06. For The Sake
07. Aftermath
08. In The Hole
09. You’re Never Alone
10. Released

Raising Fear
01. Raising Fear
02. Saturday Night Special
03. Out On A Limb
04. Isolation
05. Chemical Euphoria
06. Frozen Will/Legacy
07. Human Vulture
08. Book Of Blood
09. Terror
10. Underdogs

LINE-UP:
John Bush – Vocals
Phil Sandoval – Lead Guitar (“March of the Saint” only)
Dave Prichard – Lead Guitar
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Anaal Nathrakh – Reissues: The Codex Necro/Total Fucking Necro

Anaal Nathrakh Reissues Advert

Anaal Nathrakh – Reissues
The Codex Necro/Total Fucking Necro
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 11/06/2021
Running Time: 44:45/49:25
Review by Dark Juan
10/10
10/10

Greetings and salutations once again, dear acolytes, followers of the Left-Hand Path and my army of zealots! It is I, Dark Juan, and today I have returned to regale you with information about why you should in fact give your soul to Satan (Hell has the world’s best lounge band, you see) eat all the delicious food and gorge yourself on the finest wines, spirits, meads and beers (fuck it all, you only live once and you give FAR too much of your lives to fucking wankers in suits and ties telling you that you aren’t doing enough to earn the pittance the capitalist scum pay you. Burn down their house) and play with the genitals of whichever sex tickles your fancy as often as humanly possible (just fucking because, OK? Trust me on this…) Also, listen to heavy fucking metal until your eyes bleed.

However, you should not attempt to have sex with Anaal Nathrakh being the soundtrack. There are several VERY SOUND reasons for this. Firstly, if you are a man above the age of forty and you try rattling the bones of your beloved at the insane tempos of an Anaal Nathrakh song then frankly you’re guaranteed a spell in hospital due to exhaustion and also, you’ll put your back out which is not a good thing. Maybe this is what happened to our Glorious Leader, Air Chief Marshal Richard “What I get Up To In My Bedroom Is No Concern Of Yours, You Fucking Northern Ape” Tilley. Secondly, your significant other’s pelvis will be reduced to rubble in short order, unless you are enjoying some oral action in which case there will be an immediate requirement for emergency dentistry and she (or he, or xim, them or any other pronoun that is inclusive. However, I am a heterosexual male so I will write primarily from my point of view) will end up sounding like Phyllis Pearce instead of the winsome, lilting voice she previously stole your heart with…

A lilting, winsome voice is something that V.I.T.R.I.O.L (unsurprisingly his real name is Dave) does not have. He sounds like a demented banshee screaming pure unadulterated hatred at pretty much the entire world and surrounding galactic environs. I am privately convinced that he is solely the reason that extraterrestrials haven’t yet contacted us, because they got wind of “The Codex Necro”, listened to it once and then had to go back to wherever the fuck they came from to repair their ship because V.I.T.R.I.O.L and Irrumator (Mick Kenney) basically fucked it to the point of structural failure with the power of their music. Which is a term I use advisedly.

Yes, I am currently turning my brain to soup with a reissue of Anaal Nathrakh’s utterly classic “The Codex Necro” on Metal Blade and by God it has just reaffirmed just how savage metal can be. This is ultra-primal, martial black metal of the very highest caliber, easily rivalling anything Scandinavia had to offer for sheer sonic violence. You will all no doubt remember that I don’t normally score reissues highly, normally viewing them as a cynical cash grab (hello, Paradise Lost) for bands that were financially not too badly off, but this is going to be disregarded today because of this motherfucking shitty arsed pandemic pushing our music to the brink. Frankly so many of our bands need some form of income to keep going and if you’re going to bang out a reissue during these straitened times, I say have at it. And to be fair to Anaal Nathrakh, reissuing their utterly classic debut album is a smart move. It makes everything released nowadays look wimpy and insipid, and still shows the righteous way for unrelenting brutality in music. I have always regarded them as one of the most sonically dense bands there has ever been, in company with The Berzerker (and now The Machinist).

Everything about “The Codex Necro” is fucking perfect. Unparalleled vocal fury from V.I.T.R.I.O.L is underpinned with nothing less than the aural equivalent of messy and explosive murder by Irrumator (who does everything else apart from the vocals). Rarely does the album’s velocity drop below Warp Factor 9 and the rageometer NEVER drops below a full on ten, and it is a testament to the quality of this album that after 20 years, it is yet to be challenged by any pretender to sonic Armageddon. It is also a testament to just how unrelentingly murderous full on black metal can be when it is underpinned by a proper production job, rather than the production being handled by a corpse painted heroin addict from Oslo who has put all the microphones in fishbowls while stoned out of his gourd and forgotten to turn up the bass on the mixing board. “The Codex Necro” still sounds fresh as fuck, mate. Everything is clearly heard, even though they go that fast there are times when you simply can’t take in the savagery and horror.

Everything about (he gaily repeats himself) “The Codex Necro” is perfect. EVERYTHING. It is a landmark of black metal and the perfect distillation of the rage that fuels heavy metal, stripped back to speed and aggression. If I were scoring this by itself, it would always be full marks, it is that seminal a work.

On to “Total Fucking Necro” then…After you, please.

A rather rawer recording composed of pieces from three demos (“Anaal Nathrakh”, “Total Fucking Necro” and the unreleased “We Will Fucking Kill You”) including two cover tracks from Mayhem (‘Carnage’ and ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’) compared to “The Codex Necro”, this album nevertheless showcases what was going to become the absolute last word in British brutality to devastating effect. With a sound not unlike being on the wrong end of an extensive and long lasting carpet bombing campaign with added incendiaries, Anaal Nathrakh set a fucking marker that the rest of the world could not ignore – here we are, we can play black metal better than you pasty faced, skinny limbed, church burning Scandinavian lightweights and we dare you to fucking come at us with your swords and your Satanism – we will destroy you with merely our teeth, for we are not warriors of Satan, we are fucking feral and we are going to chew our way through your faces.

Where “The Codex Necro” had a superb production that enhanced the power of the music considerably, “Total Fucking Necro” does not. The sound is woolly as fuck and instruments drop in and out of the mix willy nilly and at times curiously poppy sounding cymbals overpower everything – it must be remembered that this record is a collection of demos and they are still absolutely uncompromising in power and savagery. The speed of the playing sometimes impacts negatively on precision and there are a few dropped notes here and there, yet they don’t compromise just how promising the young and thrusting Anaal Nathrakh of 1999 was. V.I.T.R.I.O.L relies more on the classic black metal strangled yowl vocal on the demos before finding that hate fuelled roar that made him one of the finest BM vocalists ever and Irrumator clearly hadn’t learned the finesse he later displayed on AN recordings, appearing to be flailing desperately at every instrument he could lay his hands on, rather than playing them as he struggles to maintain the punishing tempos Anaal Nathrakh became famous for.

That’s not to say it isn’t good though. Raw, untamed Anaal Nathrakh can still kick the arse of pretty much every single modern black metal band with ease. This is absolutely fucking classic black metal from a band that desperately deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Mayhem, Emperor, Burzum (may Varg Vikernes forever rot in some endless fiery hell specifically for right wing murderous fucknuggets) and Darkthrone as black metal luminaries and leading lights. And they did this without recourse to corpse paint and pseudo-Satanic silliness… It also has to be said that Anaal Nathrakh are considerably better when they are ploughing their own massively furious musical furrow than aping their contemporaries, although this reviewer has an incredibly soft spot for the classical and expansive nature of Emperor and Dimmu Borgir, yet AN display touches that move them ahead of the black metal crowd even this early in the development of the band and their sound. Absolutely fucking irreplaceable.

And there we have it. Anaal Nathrakh have reminded me just why they will always be one of my favourite bands. As a retrospective recording of their early days, these two records are an essential purchase if you don’t already have them. If you don’t and you are the kind of masochistic person who will enjoy having your face reduced to its component atoms by concentrated musical hatred, fucking buy these albums. If you’re dipping your toes into the water of black metal and you ignore the fucking idiotic gatekeeper kvltists (who are all frankly boring dickheads) who will inevitably claim that AN aren’t black metal because they weren’t hanging around a certain record shop in Oslo in 1995, you really can’t do much better than Mayhem, Emperor and Anaal Nathrakh as your gateway into a scene that has pretty followed its own path in isolation from mainstream metal for decades. I can’t believe these records are over 20 years old – both still sound as fresh, vibrant and exciting as they did when this (at the time) teenage Hellpriest discovered them and Cradle Of Filth at the same time and made my parents wonder just what the unholy fuck was going on in my bedroom. And that was before I had managed to lure any teenage girls up there…

Absolutely superb. Absolutely fucking superb. I’m blown away as much now as I was then.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System can do nothing but award Anaal Nathrakh 10/10 for both fucking records. Both are absolutely uncompromising slabs of concentrated murderous hatred that get full marks for different reasons – 10/10 for “The Codex Necro” because at the time it was THE gold standard for brutality, and 10/10 for “Total Fucking Necro” for the sheer juggernaut raw power and untrammeled talent it displayed. By golly I’m proud to be British right now!

TRACKLISTINGS:

The Codex Necro:
01. The Supreme Necrotic Audnance
02. When Humanity Is Cancer
03. Submission Is For The Weak
04. Pandemonic Hyperblast
05. Paradigm Shift Annihilation
06. The Technogoat
07. Incipid Flock (sic)
08. Human, All Too Fucking Human
09. The Codex Necro

Total Fucking Necro:
01. Anaal Nathrakh (“Anaal Nathrakh” demo)
02. Necrodeath (“Anaal Nathrakh” demo)
03. Ice Blasting Storm Winds (“Anaal Nathrakh” demo)
04. Carnage (“Anaal Nathrakh” demo; Mayhem cover)
05. The Supreme Necrotic Audnance (“Total Fucking Necro” demo)
06. Satanachrist (“Total Fucking Necro” demo)
07. L.E.T.H.A.L.: Diabolic (“Total Fucking Necro” demo)
08. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (“Total Fucking Necro” demo; Mayhem cover)
09. The Technogoat (“Total Fucking Necro” demo)
10. Necrogeddon (“We Will Fucking Kill You” unreleased demo)

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Intruder – Re-issues


Intruder – Re-issues
A Higher Form of Killing/Escape From Pain EP/Psycho Sava
Lusitanian Records
Release Date: 27/11/2020
Running Time: 46:42/29:24/54:17
Review by Simon Black
7/10
5/10
8/10

So, back in the day when Thrash had emerged from the underground and the Big Four were now filling arenas, there was a second wave of bands that never got anything like the same kind of exposure shortly before the scene collapsed under the waves of change. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee (“It’s a Music City Jim, but not as we know it”) Intruder were very much of this second wave, with a debut Speed Metal album that no-one heard, shortly followed by these three releases once they were signed to Metal Blade, that were released over a three-year period. Although they toured extensively in the continental USA, Canada and Mexico they were completely unknown over here in Europe until bands like Morbid Angel started namedropping them in interviews. But by then in 1992 though, they had been dropped from Metal Blade, although tensions within the band at the time meant they may well have folded anyway. Either way, apart from a couple of brief reformations in the intervening decades, that was your lot.

Cut to 2019, and the band have apparently reformed and were a thing again, although clearly Covid got in the way, but more tragically guitarist Greg Messick also passed away in September of last year. So, with nothing new on the horizon, those Metal Blade releases have found a new home and the opportunity for the rest of the world to see what all the fuss was about.

“A Higher Form Of Killing” was their first full Thrash influenced piece, although there’s enough of a carry-over of the Speed Metal sound (particularly in the largely cleaner vocal approach) that I can see this band attracting both Thrashers and the more traditionally inclined audience back in the day. Think of a much more rough and ready sounding Randy Rampage-era Annihilator, with a snort of Nuclear Assault for good measure and baked in an oven with Flotsam & Jetsam for forty-eight minutes. Musically though this album is definitely without the classically trained virtuosity of a Jeff Waters, but that said there is no shortage of technical skill in the band (although some of that classical sound comes on later releases), with some blisteringly fast time changes and clever switches in style mid-song. Overall, I am taken back to my youth by the energy, naivety and two raised fingers in the general direction of L.A. that this whole movement was about. The only negative here is that the mix does not seem to have been given much of a remaster, and the quality of the production is definitely of the day.

The “Escape From Pain” EPat the time wasn’t giving the fans much that was new. A Chicago cover to open with, one new track that gives the release its title and three old favourites from their (at the time) scarce first album – the band were the first to admit that at the time it was done so they could have an excuse to tour. What it does benefit from is a much better recording sound that still retains the energy, but actually gives you a chance to hear what vocalist Jimmy Hamilton was capable of (he’s almost lost in the mix on ‘Higher Form’). The ‘25 or 6 to 4’cover probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but seems something of an oddity thirty years later. The title track however is positively epic, and with a running time of nearly nine minutes is something of a novelty for a genre that prided itself on Speed of delivery. It’s complex, clever and technically brilliant, but sound wise suffers from the absence of budget or engineering expertise in the studio, and there’s more of this approach to come on the next release. The remaining tracks are pure speed metal, and give an insight into their pre-Thrash Speed Metal direction, but frankly the song writing of the later material shows much more maturity, but again, it seems that little could be done to remaster for the age we live in.

By the time we get to “Psycho Savant”we are clearly listening to a band that took a long time to find their own sound, which is possibly not surprising in a state dominated by its contribution to Country music. Although it lacks the naïve charm of “A Higher Form Of Killing”, it’s got the richest sound of the three and distils all the skills they’ve developed along the way into an album that holds the attention despite the average run time of its songs being in the seven-minute bracket. The musicianship is many orders of magnitude improved and despite the flood of complex time changes, this baby just flows. It also balances the two forces of Speed and Thrash Metal, not to mention a healthy portion of emerging Power Metal and it would really have been interesting to see where this would have taken them in the years to come had they continued through the wilderness years that Grunge and Nu-Metal wrought on the scene. There’s also a lyrical maturity in here that feels ahead of its time, most noticeably on ‘Geri’s Lament’, which tackled the disturbing subject of the appalling treatment of older folks in care homes, with righteous anger at those that pocketed the money of those for whom they were supposed to be caring for.

Either way, this is a fascinating insight into an act that deserved far more attention than they got at the time and who hopefully are not gone for good.

TRACKLISTINGS:
A Higher Form Of Killing (1989)
01. Time Of Trouble
02. The Martyr
03. Genetic Genocide
04. Second Chance
05. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
06. Killing Winds
07. The Sentence Is Death
08. Agents Of The Dark (M.I.B.)
09. Antipathy
10. Mr. Death

Escape From Pain EP (1990)
01. 25 or 6 to 4 (Chicago Cover)
02. Escape From Pain
03. Cold-Blooded Killer
04. Kiss Of Death
05. T.M. (You Paid The Price)

Psycho Savant (1991)
01. Face Of Hate
02. Geri’s Lament (When)
03. The Enemy Within
04. It’s A Good Life
05. Invisible
06. Traitor To The Living
07. Final Word
08. N.G.R.I.

LINE-UP:
Jimmy Hamilton – Vocals
Arthur Vinett – Guitar
Greg Messick – Guitar
Todd Nelson – Bass
John Pieroni – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.