Megadeth – Killing Is My Business
My relationship with Megadeth started with the “Rust In Peace” album in 1990. That was a wow moment for me, in relation to song construction, guitar playing and pushing the boundaries of thrash metal even further and more progressive.
So I started collecting more Megadeth albums. “So Far So Good So What” and then “Countdown To Extinction” was released. Then I went back to “Peace Sells” and then “Youthanasia” came out.
Then I went back to the debut, and it was the mid 90’s. And I thought it was average. I couldn’t hear a song that I liked but each song had sections/riffs which got me interested. And it infuriated me.
I suppose that’s what you get, when you spend half of your $8K recording budget on drugs and alcohol and then had to fire the producer because you couldn’t afford him, which meant you had to produce the album.
“Loved To Deth” has this open string pull off riff that I like. “Killing Is My Business” is the NWOBHM movement on steroids and speed and other hallucinogens. The first 90 seconds of “The Skull Beneath The Skin” is groove metal mixed with speed. “Rattlehead” is so fast, it’s a speed metal anthem.
Whatever Metallica was, Megadeth was going to be faster and more aggressive.
“Chosen Ones” has this “Jump In The Fire” style riff and it’s probably their slowest song. “Mechanix” is 4 minutes of relentless anger. And I’m sure everyone knows that this song became “The Four Horseman” when Mustaine was in Metallica. When he played it live with Megadeth at a Sydney concert he merged the two songs and it was a perfect homage to both.
And Mustaine didn’t want to sing, but after spending six months searching for a vocalist, he took on the reins. It was like Deja-vu as James Hetfield also didn’t want to sing, but did it due to a lack of suitable vocalists.
Savatage – Power Of The Night
There is a Savatage before “Gutter Ballet” and a Savatage post the death of Criss Oliva for me.
This album is pre “Gutter Ballet” and it’s a band trying to find their sound and style. Max Norman is producing. 5 years before, he was doing Ozzy with Randy and 5 years later he would do Megadeth and Lynch Mob albums.
I like the intro riff to “Power Of The Night”. “Hard As Love” has a title which is a product of its time, but while this kind of title would have worked for Danger Danger or Bulletboys, it felt wrong with Savatage. But musically, its brilliant, catchy.
“Fountain Of Youth” is the embryo of what Savatage would become. The musical structure and different grooves would become more prominent on the albums that came after.
But the album is hit and miss in the lyrics department.
Kick Axe – Welcome To The Club
I picked up their first two albums in the 90’s because I saw that Spencer Proffer was involved.
They are a very underrated band from Canada and I like “Welcome To The Club” more than the debut album “Vices”.
“Welcome To The Club” is a different kind of track, rooted in hard rock, but those clean tone arpeggios give the song a very UK Pop sound. Then you have a song like “Feels Good Don’t Stop” which swings, grooves and rocks its way all the way while “Comin’ After You” feels like a Marillion song while “Make Your Move” is a hard rock song through and through.
How good is the intro to “Never Let Go”? And overall, I feel like I am listening to a Y&T cut merged with Triumph.
“Hellraisers” has some serious good riffage in the intro and verses.
“Can’t Take It With You” has those big “I Love It Loud” drums but the riffage and vocal melodies would have given birth to the recent Swedish Melodic Rock movement. It sounds like H.E.A.T built a career on songs like these.
“Too Loud… Too Old” sounds like an unchained and frantic VH song and it also reminds me of a blog I visit regularly called 2Loud2OldMusic.
The way the staccato bass rolls in “Feel The Power” gets the foot tapping. Check out those harmony leads as well.
And the album closes with a cover song, “With A Little Help From My Friends” but even though Lennon and McCartney wrote it, the definitive version is from Joe Cocker.
Keel – The Right To Rock
Gene Simmons is producing under his label Gold Mountain Records while Steve Riley plays drums on the album but left to join WASP.
The band had three songs written before they got sent to the studio (“The Right To Rock”, “Back To The City” and “Electric Love”), so they covered three Gene Simmons demos (“Easier Said Than Done”, “So Many Girls, So Little Time” and “Get Down”) and re-recorded three songs from the debut album (“Speed Demon”, “Tonight You’re Mine” became “You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)” and the Rolling Stones cover “Let’s Spend The Night Together”).
I still like the intro to “The Right To Rock”, it’s perfect for the time.
“All of my life I’ve been fighting for the right to make my stand” and we are still fighting to make our stand. It will never stop.
“I’m gonna do it my way or not do it all” sounded so easy back then, but as you grow up, you start to realise that it’s not that easy to do things your way and still participate in society. In order to live, you need money and to get money you need to work. If doing things your way, generates money, great, if it doesn’t, then you need to work for someone else and suddenly you are not doing it your way.
“Back To The City” is interchangeable with their other songs and I really like the Rolling Stones cover “Let’s Spend The Night Together”.
The verse riff of the Gene Simmons penned “So Many Girls, So Little Time” is pure heavy metal. “Electric Love” is melodic rock, with Ron Keel delivering a vocal line at 11. “Speed Demon” is pure NWOBHM with Ron Keel again delivering a vocal line at 11. There’s just 11 in his delivery and that’s it.
“Get Down” is another Simmons cut which feels like a re-write of “I Love It Loud” but lyrically, its dumb. “You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)” is another cut inspired by the NWOBHM, with fast “Overkill” double kick drumming in the intro.
Even though the album is a mixture of new songs, re-recordings and Gene Simmons penned songs, Keel earned “The Right To Rock” after it.
Also if you’ve seen a Y&T cover on A&M Records, a Foreigner cover or some different posters around the Mad Max and Star Wars movies, then there is a pretty good chance you’ve seen the artwork of John Taylor Dismukes.
Autograph – That’s The Stuff
Autograph were either loathed or liked. There was no in between.
I liked the first album “Sign In Please” and loathed the second album “That’s The Stuff” which really wasn’t the stuff.
And the second track “Take No Prisoners” is a rewrite of “Turn Up The Radio”. This is an album that is lacking in ideas and very hard to listen to.