The Metal Files

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Posts Tagged ‘metal blade records

Helstar and Omen Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 30, 2016

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I love Metal Blade Records for being one of the first metal labels that were accessible in the mainstream record store market as a kid.  About 90% of their first 80 or so titles were winners.  One of those bands that stood above the fray was Omen.  My first listen came when Danile bought Battle Cry.  From there I was hooked.  Before owning any physical copies of their stuff, we traded dubs of their first 2.  Kelz had a dubbed cassette of those first two that was passed around between our circle of friends.  Would love to see the j-card of that again.  Such great memories.  Those first three albums are essential to any fan of traditional metal.  JD Kimball’s (RIP) vocals are the best.  After he left and their followup albums came out, I admit to losing interest.  I did buy their latest one, Hammer Damage, last week and I like it a lot.  It’s certainly got that old school Omen vibe to it.  They never came through Virginia back in those days and I had missed festival appearances in the last decade so last night I was able to scratch off another band from the list.  To be honest I had a little trouble sleeping the night before like a kid on Christmas Eve.

Come show day, I gathered up my CD covers, marked the spot in The Book, took a nap, showered up and headed to the show.  Doors were at 7PM and the first of the 6 bands was going on at 730.  I grabbed some tacos at the place next door then went in and caught the openers, Metalriser, from San Antonio.  I’ve seen them a few times in San Antonio and I like them a lot.  Very Sepultura-ish with slightly cleaner vocals.  It was a solid 30 minute set.

Locals Force of Rage came on next.  Pass.  Not a fan.  By their second or third song, my date had shown up and she hadn’t had dinner yet, so back to the taco place!  We had missed all of the next band, Death of a Dream.  After listening to their stuff earlier in the day, I was ok with missing their set.  We returned right as Black Thorn Halo came on.  She looked at me when their second song started and said, “Outside?”  Haha.  YES!  I’m not a fan of that band at all, 0%,  although I think their guitarist is excellent.  He also plays in a local Dio tribute.  Fantastic guitarist in general.

As we were outside waiting for them to finish, I let her know about my rabid fandom of Omen and she was understanding.  We went in as Omen was setting up and went right to the front of the stage.  I was utterly surprised how under-attended the show was, especially since Omen rarely plays Texas even though Kenny lives in Dallas and because it was Helstar’s album release party and they generally do well in Austin because of how infrequently they play here.  My guess is that there were maybe 100 total from beginning to end, but the crowd had thinned out by the time Omen came on.  But we were there, at the front of stage when they opened with Death Rider and Dragon’s Breath.  This is right at the beginning of their tour with Helstar and even though things were a little rough, they were still fantastic.  I was just so excited to see them, singing along with everything.  They played the title track from their new album, Hammer Damage, and singer Kevin Goocher forewarned us that it was only their second time playing it live and that it would be a little rough…and it was, but that was ok.  To be honest, it’s my least favorite song on the new album, but it’s not a bad one by any means.  They played 8 songs total and were scheduled to close with Teeth of the Hydra (!!!) but the other bands ran long, so Omen had to pay the price and get cut by one song.  Add to the fact that Helstar had a hard start time.  It’s my favorite song of theirs.  Bummer.  I met up with their singer right after the cleared the stage to sign my CD and he mentioned that Steve Wittig had left already as he had to catch a flight.  So none of my stuff got signed by him, but no biggie, I’ll see them again in California is October for Frost and Fire II and again April 2017 for Spring Bash.  Funny, waited 32 years to see them and now I’ll have seen then 3 times within 8 months or so.

Helstar came on and pretty much just destroyed the place.  They were promoting their new album, Vampiro.  It may have been the best I had ever seen them play.  Currently lineup features on Larry Barrigan as the other remaining original member and he’s a fantastic player.  The remnants of crowd (pun intended) that were left there piled into the floor and were very vocal and animated during the set.  James’ voice was as precise as I have ever heard it.  It was a fun set and the new songs sounded great.  My date enjoyed both bands as well, having never heard them before.

She was patient with me as I spent a few minutes with Kenny Powell to get some CDs and The Book signed.  “I love signing stuff, I appreciate anyone who appreciates us.”  I mentioned how much I liked the new album and he mentioned how much trouble they had in writing and recording it.  I said that it sounded like Omen.  “Perfect,” he said.  “That’s what I needed to hear.  I wanted it to sound like classic Omen.”  Mission accomplished.  He signed the CDs and paused to see the Best of Metal Massacre.  “What’s this?  Never seen this before.  Another comp that I never knew about!”  He signed the book and his wife was enthralled by it, taking a picture of the cover to get one of her own.

It was a great night overall seeing old friends, making new friends and seeing one of my favorite all time bands.

 

 

Metal Massacre VII

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For many, Metal Massacre VII (MM VII) is considered the holy grail of the series put out by Metal Blade between 1982 and 2006.  Did anyone really care about any of these after maybe Metal Massacre XI?

This one has some awesome tunes on it.  Here’s the quick breakdown.

1.  Heretic – Impulse:  Pre-Mike Howe Heretic.  This one has Mike Torres from the mighty Abattoir!  Awesome song all the way around.  Heretic was great from beginning to end.  For as much as I liked the album with Mike Howe, I loved him in Metal Church.

2.  Sentinel Beast – Sentinel Beast:  Thrash!  I’ve tried and tried to like this band and could never really get into them.  The music is fine on this track but her vocals don’t do much for me at all.

3.  Flotsam & Jetsam – I Live, You Die:  Doomsday for the Deceiver, ’nuff said!  This is really an awesome song. and you can actually hear Newstead playing, something that didn’t happen with Metallica.  Love this song, love Doomsday.  Saw them live a few times in the late 80s and early 90s and they always ruled.

4.  Krank – Rented Heat: Wow.  This was an awesome song.  Absolutely love it.  Krank’s debut album was called Hideous.  Very fitting.  This was the only listenable song on it.  This one always reminded me of Accept to a degree.  Rented Heat seems to be about a renta-cop.  haha.  Still awesome .

Krank. Hideous!

5.  Mad Man – Backstabber:  Mid-paced metal.  Nothing really stands out for me on this at all.

6.  Detente – Widow’s Walk:  RIP Dawn Crosby.  Great thrash from a highly underrated band.  It’s pretty rare that I like female fronted metal bands, but this was one of them.  Dawn was the real deal.  Total hard luck woman who literally grew up on the streets and drank herself to death in the end.  Detente re-released Recognize No Authority a few years back.  Buy it.

7.  Commander – High N Mighty:  Another track that I love.  I think the vocals are what hooked me on this one.  The whole album is pretty good.  I’ll upload it one of these days.

8.  Juggernaut – In The Blood Of Virgins:  I love Juggernaut but not this song so much.  Features Bobby Jarzombek on drums.

9.  Cryptic Slaughter – Reich of Torture:  Blech.  Awful.  Some early forms of blast beats, sloppy as hell.

10.  Have Mercy – The Omen:  Great thrash!  Great vocals!  Great great!

11.  Titanic – The Awakening:  Not a bad song at all.  The intro is way too long and the production was pretty crappy.  But most songs sent to Metal Blade for this series were demos.  I’d like to hear more by these guys.  Some good progressive tendencies.

12.  Lost Horizon – Troubled Ways:  Great NWOBHM influenced song.  Reminds me a bit of Tokyo Blade.  Another band I’d like to hear a full album from.

Download here.

Written by The Metal Files

October 17, 2010 at 9:59 am

My Life With Lizzy Borden

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“Hello suckers!” = Lizzy Borden

The first time I had seen or heard of Lizzy Borden was from a little photo and small article in Circus Magazine.  It was a cool shot of the band in black and white standing on the roof of a building and Lizzy had a big axe proppoed on his toe.  Would love to find that photo somewhere.

I think I first heard them on one of the old Metal Blade Records compilations but it wasn’t really until 1986 that I got into them via a former friend from high school.  I remember going to his house and he had the Give ‘Em The Axe EP on vinyl.  I was hooked.  In subsequent years we all got into Love You To Pieces and the Muderess Metal Roadshow thanks to the VHS they put out,  Good times!  That former friend from high school and I did Give “em The Axe for our junior year air band contest.  I think we won because everyone else was a bit scared.

Sure Lizzy and the band always looked a bit silly and even more so now, but they’ve never really done a bad record.  I finally got to see them play at the NORVA in Norfolk, VA back in 2004 opening for Yngwie, not long before their guitarist, Alex Nelson, was killed in a car wreck.  He was a killer player.  They were all very cool folks.   I couldn’t believe they didn’t play Give ‘Em the Axe though!  I felt cheated!

So, here’s the review that you’ve so anxiously been waiting for.

Give ‘Em The Axe EP – 1984

This was a cool EP.  The title tracks rules.  No Time to Lose and Kiss of Death are cool.  I never liked their cover of Long Live Rock and Roll (Rainbow).  7/10

Love You To Pieces – 1985

Oh man.  This album rules.  There’s not a bad track on it but the highlights ae Warfare, American Metal, Rod of Iron and Red Rum.  I listened to this tape so much.  No telling how many copies I went through over the years.  10/10

Menace To Society – 1986

Another fantastic record by Lizzy Borden but it suffered severely from poor production.  It was very tinny and I don’t really know that a bass was used on it.  I’m one of the few Lizzy fans who actually thinks this one is as good as the previews album.  My faves are Notorious, Ursa Minor and Love Kills.  10/10

Terror Rising EP – 1987

Ugh.  This really was a bit of a waste of petroleum based materials.  Catch Your Death was a cool tune but the cover version of the Tubes’ Don’t Touch Me There with Betsy from Bitch, the title track and the god awful cover of White Rabbit makes me with I could get my $5.98 back from the Music Man.  2/10

Visual Lies – 1987

Another Lizzy album that I love but it’s a lot different than their previous albums.  It’s a little more polished in production terms and a little more palatable for the MTV crowd.  They had a video for Me Against the World and the song was featured in the terrible movie Black Roses.  I dig the album though.  There are some really great tracks like Lord of the Flies, Shock Treatment, the title track and Eyes of a Stranger.  Worthwhile listening for sure.  By the way, this featured Joe Holmes on guitar who was in Ozzy for a brief time.  9/10

Master of Disguise – 1989

This is where started losing me a bit.  While it’s not a bad album, it was missing something.  I could never put my finger on it.  I think that this was supposed a solo album by Lizzy…allegedly.  I haven’t listened to this one in years and years.  I won’t anytime soon!  1/10

Deal With the Devil – 2000

This was a good comeback album for the guys.  I like this one a lot and still spin it a few times a year.  There Will Be Blood Tonight is a good track.  Their cover of Alice Cooper’s Generation Landslide was pretty decent too.  I really dig Zanzibar and The World Is Mine.  7/10

Appointment With Death – 2007

I haven’t listened to this one since it came out but I don’t remember it striking me like the previous album did.  Can’t really even name any songs off of it…so there you go.  0/10

So, as it stands, I always recommend Love You to Pieces, Menace to Society and Visual Lies to everyone.

Concert Review – Hirax – Austin, TX – 08/29/09

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It was 1986 and Metal Blade Records was practically the greatest metal label on the scene.  They consistently released hiraxgreat compilations like the Metal Massacre and Best of Metal Blade series.  Best of Metal Blade Volume 1 (1986) included Call Of The Gods by Hirax.  I always loved that song but for no logical reason whatsoever did I never check them out any further.  I also liked Bombs of Death from Metal Massacre 6.  There’s really no explanation as to why I didn’t follow through on these guys, and after last night I feel like I missed out on some additional great metal in the last 23 years.

So about a month or so ago I read in the local show listings that Hirax was coming to Red 7.  Even though I was not even remotely familiar with any of their material beyond the 2 aforementioned songs, I definitely wanted to see this show.  Through the years I’ve always seen Hirax playing the Euro festivals and have read interviews with Katon W. DePena and have always respected his attitude about music.  The guys has proudly been flying the flag of metal since day 1.

So I get to the club a little early to get MM6 and Best of Metal Blade 1 signed as well as my copy of “Headbangers: Worldwide Megabook of Heavy Metal” (Mark Hale, 1993).  I know the club owner pretty well and he let me go in to the green room to meet Katon and the band.  I was looking forward to this for a few reasons.  One to meet Katon, who really is a true metal legend.  The other reason was to meet Glenn Rogers, former guitar player of Deliverance.  I dug those guys back in the day.  When I went into the room, Katon was in there with his lovely wife, his bassist and guitarist Lance and Steve Harrison and some other guy that I didn’t know.  Glenn was out and about with a friend so I would catch up with him later.

Katon invited me over and we talked for a bit just about music and such and Katon asked about my book.  As he’s flipping through it reading about his band and tons of other obscure bands that are listed in the book.  He signed it and my 2 CD covers and said, “Is DRI in here?  The guy beside me if Felix from DRI.”  Felix thought they wouldn’t be in there but I knew they were.  Much to everyone’s pleasure, there was even a picture of band during the era that Felix was in it (85-90).  I hung out for a bit and asked Katon if he ever had any interactions with Billy Milano, which he had.  So I asked if he wanted to walk over to the club that Billy works in to say hello.  We popped over there for a bit and they shook hands and caught up for a few minutes then I took them over to another club so Katon could catch up with an old friend who unfortunately wasn’t there at the time.  Back to Red 7.  It was great seeing the respect this guy was getting from people in the club, some of who came from Houston and I think a few from Mexico to see this show.

I really expected a much larger crowd, especially with this being on a Saturday.  Typically the San Antonio crew would come up for a show like this but I only saw a few folks from that crowd there.  The Sword was playing up the street for the 2nd night in a row and I can’t imagine they stole much of the crowd from this show.  The club booked 4 grindcore bands to open up which I thought was a bad pairing.  I didn’t go in to check out the other bands as I’m not really a fan of the grind stuff in general.  While the grind bands were playing I got to talk to Glenn Rogers who let me know that Deliverance was going to do one more album with the original lineup sans the drummer.

But then it was time for Hirax.  It was already around 1 or 1:10 AM but the crowd had increased.  I’m guessing there were about 90 people in there.  Cover charge was $15.  Well worth it for me.  Hirax kicked in and just kicked ass.  Katon is a great frontman, reminds me a lot of Jason McMaster.  Knows to to work a crowd and keep them interested during guitar tunings and such.

I have to say that I was truly blown away and really felt a bit guilty about not having checked them out deeper.  But there’s no time like the present, right?  Their set was cut short due to time restraints and I must say I was a little let down that Call of the Gods wasn’t on the set at all.  But it didn’t matter, they were great and I hope they make their way back to Austin again.

Setlist as I remember it:

  1. El Dia De Los Muertos
  2. 100,000 Strong
  3. Blind Faith
  4. New Age of Terror
  5. Chaos and Brutality
  6. Hate, Fear and Power
  7. Broken Neck
  8. Bombs of Death
  9. El Diablo Negro
  10. Walk With Death
  11. Mouth Sewn Shut?

I am not so sure about the ones after El Diablo Negro.

Katon W. De Pena (Hirax), fat dude (me), Felix Griffin (DRI)

Many Have Tried and Many Have Died…

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Omen never really got their due.  Three brilliant albums and one EP between 84 and 86 and when you hear people talk Omen (US) - Warning Of Dangeabout classic metal, especially when mentioning the early Metal Blade stuff, it seems that so few people talk about them.  It’s a bit of a shame.  It was nice to see that metal Blade did do the Omen box set a few years ago.  The live footage is enjoyable.

Omen had a very unique style and sound, especially in the vocal department.  There was something in the way that JD Kimball could wail…like you could really hear the desperation in his voice.  I remember the first time I heard them.  Daniel had ordered Battle Cry through Metal Blade.  I was blown away by the whole band.  Kelz had made me a  dub tape of Battle Cry and Warning of Danger.  I can still see that tape sitting on the seat of my old Nova.  I believe there was some Metal Church at the end of one of the sides.

But there was something special about Omen but I don’t think it was just any one thing.  The sum of the parts just made them perfect.  The music was great, the vocals were great and overall they had good lyrics.  That was difficult to do back in those days.  Even Be My Wench and Bring Out the Beast are great.

For as much as I love Battle Cry and Warning of Danger, in recent years I find myself listening to the Curse more often than the other 2.  Teeth of the Hydra is one of my favorite songs of all time by any band.

Then 2 years after The Curse they released Escape To Nowhere with Coburn Pharr (Annihilator).  My god what an awful album that was.  I revisited it a few years ago and it still sucked.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with any of the first 3 albums.  I listened to Reopening the Gates when it came out as well…it just didn’t work for me.  Omen was more about JD’s vocals than anything else for me.  RIP.

Written by The Metal Files

August 2, 2009 at 12:04 am

Thank You Metal Blade Records!

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For giving me a lifetime of enjoyment from your early selection of albums.

  1. metal massacre 1
  2. bitch – damnation alley
  3. demon flight – s/t
  4. metal massacre 2
  5. warlord – deliver us
  6. savage grace – the dominatress
  7. bitch – be my slave
  8. metal massacre 3
  9. armored saint – s/t ep
  10. obsession – marshall law ep
  11. witchkiller – day of the saxons
  12. metal massacre 4
  13. slayer – show no mercy
  14. pandemonium – heavy metal soldiers
  15. 3rd stage alert – s/t
  16. satan – court in the act
  17. silver mountain – shakin’ brains
  18. trouble – assassin 12″
  19. trouble – s/t
  20. lizzy borden – give ’em the axe ep
  21. metal massacre 5
  22. total destruction (compilation)
  23. warlord – aliens 12″
  24. slayer- haunting the chapel
  25. fates warning – night on brocken
  26. voivod – war and pain
  27. omen – battle cry
  28. hellhammer – apocalyptic raids
  29. warlord – and the cannons of destruction have begun
  30. mad max – rollin’ thunder
  31. dark heart – shadows of the night
  32. thrust – fist held high
  33. celtic frost – morbid tales
  34. attacker – battle at helms deep
  35. sye – turn on the fire
  36. metal massacre 6
  37. slayer – live undead
  38. tyrant – legions of the dead
  39. destruction – sentence of death
  40. slayer – hell awaits
  41. trouble – the skull
  42. hallow’s eve – tales of terror
  43. lizzy borden – love you to pieces
  44. sodom – in the sign of evil
  45. hirax – raging violence
  46. nasty savage – s/t
  47. destruction – infernal overkill
  48. celtic frost – emperor’s return
  49. mark edwards – code of honor
  50. omen – warning of danger
  51. fates warning – the spectre within
  52. pandemonium – hole in the sky
  53. cryptic slaughter – convicted
  54. metal massacre 7
  55. bloodlust – guilty as sin
  56. predator – easy prey
  57. sound barrier – speed of light
  58. juggernaut – baptism under fire
  59. sentinel beast – depths of death
  60. lizzy borden – murderess metal road show
  61. best of metal blade vol 1
  62. cirith ungol – one foot in hell
  63. flotsam and jetsam – doomsday for the deceiver
  64. unknown
  65. unknown
  66. deaf dealer – keeper of the flame
  67. sacrifice – torment in fire
  68. detente – recognize no authority
  69. krank – hideous
  70. hallow’s eve – death and insanity
  71. exxplorer – symphonies of steel
  72. warlord – thy kingdom come
  73. sodom – obsessed by cruelty
  74. destruction – eternal devastation
  75. savage grace – after the fall from grace
  76. hirax – hate, fear and power
  77. speed (compilation)
  78. tyrant – too late to pray
  79. cities – annihilation absolute
  80. heretic – torture knows no boundaries

Man, there are surely some heavy hitters. The ones listed in italics are ones that I never heard and/or owned. Best info I have as to why 64 and 65 were never released was that there were some contract disputes. When I worked as a distrubutor for Metal Blade years ago, I tried finding out what 2 LPs those were, but no one seemed to know, including Brian Slagel. The contract dispute explanation was the only thing they could provide.  At the height of my vinyl collecting I probably had 60/80.   Now I probably have 5 or 6 of them.  Sometimes I wish I had kept them.

metal-blade-records-logo

Written by The Metal Files

June 20, 2009 at 8:41 pm

The Best of Metal Blade Vol 2

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bmbv2aka “One Of The Greatest Compilations Ever”

Let’s just say that Metal Blade Records really helped shape my metalness during the mid-80s.  For the most part up until about 1989, if it was on Metal Blade Records, there was about a 90%+ chance that you were getting quality metal.  There were exceptions of course…like Canada’s Sye.  Terrible.  Really.

But Metal Blade was great at putting out cool compilations like the Metal Massacre series and the Best of Metal Blade series.  Today we take an in depth look at the Best of Metal Blade Vol 2.

1. LIZZY BORDEN “Notorious” – Let’s make something clear here…right now.  I’m a Lizzy Borden fan and have been since I first heard them.  I’m pretty sure the Give ’em the Axe EP was my indoctrination.  My interest was first piqued when I saw a little blurb in Circus Magazine about the band and there was Lizzy standing there with the band on a rooftop with this huge double-bladed axe.  They looked totally badass.   Great albums overall but I’ve always been a little partial to Menace To Society and especially to this song.  Great hooks, cool lyrics, nice production.  This song has it all. 

2. OMEN “Teeth of the Hydra” – Not my introduction to Omen (thanks Daniel!) but one of my favorite songs by them for sure.  JD Kimball’s vocals (RIP) really set this band apart from most metal bands.  He could add a tone of despair in his voice that I have never heard too many other singers do.  Mustaine had that quality on the first 2 Megadeth albums as well.  Something about the way they wail, it’s a bit haunting.  While not my favorite of the classic 3 Omen albums, this ranks as one of my top songs from them.

3. FATES WARNING “Prelude to Ruin” – John Arch.  You are the man.  Fates Warning offered us another treat with Awaken the Guardian.  As good of a song as this is, it’s certainly not my favorite from this album.

4. HALLOW’S EVE “Lethal Tendencies” – Yes!  Great song from a great album.  Sure, not the most technically proficient thrash band, but they delivered it well.

5. SLAYER “Black Magic” – (classic) SLAYER!  ’nuff said.

6. DESTRUCTION “Eternal Ban” – see below
7. SODOM “Deathlike Silence” – You know, these 2 songs never did much for me.  In general, was never much of a fan of either band.  I think the production really ruined them for me on this early stuff.  One day I’ll revisit their back catalog again…maybe.

8. SENTINEL BEAST “Dogs of War” – Awful.

9. DETENTE “Holy War” – I always dug Detente.  One of the few female fronted metal bands that I could tolerate.  This album was pretty good as is this song.  Dawn Crosby (RIP) was a rough one.  My current guitarist lived with some folks from this band back in those days and the stories and video I’ve seen of them is trippy.  Talk about drinkers?  wow.

10. HIRAX “Criminal Punishment” – Another band I never got into mainly because I never tried.  I don’t dislike this song, but I never really paid much attention to the band.  I do respect that Caton is still out there proudly flying the flag of metal. 

11. FLOTSAM & JETSAM “Der Fuhrer” – Oh man.  One of the greatest thrash songs ever.  Period.  Everything from this album just rules.  But this song…oh man.

12. JUGGERNAUT “Slow Death” – Juggernaut was always hit an miss.  This song is no exception.  Miss!

13. HERETIC “Whitechapel” – But this song is a hit.  It’s perfect.  It’s mid-paced fist-pounding metal.  Nice shrill-style vocals and it was about Jack the Ripper.  What more could one want in a metal song?

14. SAVAGE GRACE “Trial By Fire” – Love it!

15. SOUND BARRIER “Gladiator” – I think I am one of the few who actually like these guys.  This is a cool song too.

16. CIRITH UNGOL “Blood & Iron” – Ahhhhh…Cirith Ungol.  How I have always held a soft spot in my heart for these guys.  There were the old men of metal in LA.  very unique band, very dark.  Plus they had the best album covers (Michael Whelan).

17. LIZZY BORDEN “Live & Let Die” – I detest Paul McCartney.

18. CITIES “Burn Forever” – Burn burn burn…burn foreveeeeeeeer!  Awesome song.  The album was pretty good too.  Love the vocals on this.

19. EXXPLORER “Run For Tomorrow” – Again, out of my circle of metal metal head friends, I think I was/am the only one who got into these guys.  Great vocals.

20. KRANK “Rented Heat” – This is one of those songs like Crazy Night (Loudness) or Balls To the Wall (Accept) that just makes you nod your head to the mid-paced beat and want to put your fist in the air and sing along.  Too bad the album was one of the worst things Metal Blade ever put out.

21. DEAF DEALER “The Fugitive” – I adore this song.  One of these days I hope to run across this on CD.  Hey Kelz, you still have yours?

If I think about it later, I’ll upload this for your listening pleasure.