Welcome To Hell: Venom

Rating: 90%

Venom_WelcomeThe year was 1981, and with the release of their debut in December, Venom would take the world by sheer force. They rode the tide of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal before becoming a critical key element with the creation of many sub-genres of Heavy Metal. Their brand of Heavy Metal music would go onto influence Speed Metal and Black Metal. But later would influence Thrash Metal as well as Death Metal.  I like the reissues of this album complete with bonus tracks re-release by Castle/Sanctuary in 2002.

The musicianship at times can be a bit sloppy and yet tight. The production sounds like shit, almost demo quality, but that is what makes this album sound very raw, intense, and aggressive. I have always loved the style by Venom. The tempos are fast, but not crunchy like that of Thrash Metal or even the more later or second wave of Black Metal. Venom’s marksmanship is spot on in the delivery of their music and that is why they are considered the craftsmen of Black Metal and also Speed Metal.

Venom is made up of three musicians. You have bassist and vocalist Conrad “Cronos” Lant, guitarist Jeffrey “Mantas” Dunn, and drummer Tony “Abaddon” Bray. These guys throw out some great riffs, solos, and drumming. I also want to say that the bass has proven itself as a lead instrument as well. I’m thinking of Lemmy of Motorhead style, but much darker.

Track listing:

Side A
1. “Sons of Satan” 3:38
2. “Welcome to Hell” 3:15
3. “Schizo” 3:34
4. “Mayhem with Mercy” 0:58
5. “Poison” 4:33
6. “Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)” 3:59

Side B
7. “Witching Hour” 3:40
8. “One Thousand Days in Sodom” 4:36
9. “Angel Dust” 2:43
10. “In League with Satan” 3:35
11. “Red Light Fever” 5:14

Bonus tracks in 1985 re-release by Combat Records
12. “In Nomine Satanas” 3:28
13. “Bursting Out” 2:56

Bonus tracks in 2002 re-release by Castle/Sanctuary
12. “Angel Dust” (Lead Weight version) 3:03
13. “In League with Satan” (7-inch version) 3:31
14. “Live Like an Angel” (7-inch version) 3:54
15. “Bloodlust” (7-inch version) 2:59
16. “In Nomine Satanas” (7-inch version) 3:29
17. “Angel Dust” (Demo) 3:10
18. “Raise the Dead” (Demo) 3:29
19. “Red Light Fever” (Demo) 4:51
20. “Welcome to Hell” (Demo) 4:57
21. “Bitch Witch” (Out-take) 3:08
22. “Snots Shit” (Out-take)


See You In Hell: Grim Reaper

Rating: 90%

GrimreaperseeyouinhellIn 1983, riding the New Wave of British Heavy Metal tide was the band called Grim Reaper with their debut release. Nowadays, not many people remember these guys unless their a die hard fan of Heavy Metal. When growing up, I had two of their albums on cassette and today, i have their greatest hits on CD. So, when I saw this gem at the record for $16.00, I had to buy it.

Grim Reaper is made of vocalist Steve Grimmett, guitarist Nick Bowcott, bassist Dave Wanklin, and drummer Lee Harris. The musicianship is extremely good. It’s got some very strong vocal work. Steve can really hit those high notes with his pipes. Nick on guitars throws out some great riffs and leads. The opening track is proof of that. The rhythm section is also very good. The band is full of harmony and melody which is really good. 

Musically, there’s plenty of fast paced tempos, original and rich melodies. This album is proof that 1980’s Heavy Metal was a great time and place to live, even though today, not too many people may have even heard of Grim Reaper or remember who they were.

Track listing:

Side one
“See You in Hell” – 4:18
“Dead on Arrival” – 4:34
“Liar” – 2:49
“Wrath of the Ripper” – 3:14

Side two
“Now or Never” – 2:53
“Run for Your Life” – 3:42
“The Show Must Go On” – 7:26
“All Hell Let Loose” – 4:25

Balls To The Wall: Accept

Rating: 90%

Accept_-_Balls_to_the_Wall.jpgIn 1983, Accept released their successful album “Balls To The Wall.” This album also came with lots controversy from critics, as many deemed the album’s content as homoerotic.  And yes, it sort of did stand up to society about gays as a suppressed people. But, moving onward, this record deserves a lot of respect. And here’s why! The main riff to the song “Balls To The Wall” was as good as 1983 would get. That riff set a sort of standards for many Heavy Metal bands. In fact, that song became the band’s main song.

Musically, this album is very full. It has a lot of consistently to the song structures. It features lots of groovy riffs and catchy melodies. The sound is less gritty and features more melodic melodies. It’s one of the most influential metal records of the time and it’s very sexually charge.

The band sounds great.  Vocalist Udo Dirkschneider has outdone himself. His vocal style is very unique. The riffs slow and fast are perfectly executed by guitarists Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Frank. The leads are awesome. Throwing down the harmony to this masterpiece is bassist Peter Baltes. Bringing up the tempo is drummer Stefan Kaufmann.

Bottom line is that this album is the first successful Accept album. You can’t go wrong with “Balls To The Wall.” It’s a true Heavy Metal classic. That’s why when I found this in the record for $6.00, I had to pick it up on vinyl.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Balls to the Wall” 5:45
2. “London Leatherboys” 3:57
3. “Fight It Back” 3:30
4. “Head Over Heels” 4:19
5. “Losing More Than You’ve Ever Had” 5:04

Side two
6. “Love Child” 3:35
7. “Turn Me On” 5:12
8. “Losers and Winners” 4:19
9. “Guardian of the Night” 4:25
10. “Winterdreams” 4:45

Powerslave: Iron Maiden

Rating: 100%

Iron_Maiden_-_Powerslave.jpg1984’s Iron Maiden release “Powerslave” is the album that got me into Maiden. I loved every song on this album when I first heard it back in 1985. By 1988, I had most of the Maiden albums to date and tried like hell to copy the guitar sound. I was 11 years old then.

Anyway, this album is fantastic and remains as one of my favorite Maiden albums. One thing that drew me to the album was the cover. Their artwork is always the best. Look for that little grim reaper on the back of the record cover.

Secondly, it was the style and sound of music that was being played. It wasn’t anything like I was hearing on the radio at the time. The duel guitars riffs, the solos themselves, the bass lines, and then you have great vocals thrown in. WOW! Bruce hit those high notes. For what filler there is on this album, the other main tracks make up for it. In fact, there isn’t a bad song on here, just great Heavy Metal material. Tracks 1,2,7, & 8 are my all time favorite Maiden songs.

Track listing:

1. “Aces High” 4:31
2. “2 Minutes to Midnight” 6:04
3. “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)” 4:15
4. “Flash of the Blade” 4:05
5. “The Duellists”  6:18
6. “Back in the Village”  5:02
7. “Powerslave” 7:12
8. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” 13:45

Stained Class: Judas Priest

Rating: 90%

Jpstandclass.jpgReleased in 1978, “Stained Class” is among one of the most popular Judas Priest albums of their catalog. My first time hearing this album and the band in fact was around 1986. As soon as the opening track called “Exciter” opened with the double bass drums and drum rolls, followed by the fast guitar riff in the opening, I was blown away. Hearing Rob Halford’s screaming vocal performance completely blew me away. Once the first solo came in screaming and screeching I was stunned. This is one of my favorite Heavy Metal albums and it will be for many more years to come.

The musicianship of this album is very good. I love Rob Halford’s vocal style. He is such an amazing vocalist, whose voice is very unique. Then you throw in the dueling guitars of K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, both of which produced some of the best Heavy Metal guitar riffs in the 1970’s and 80’s. Ian Hill on bass compliments the duo of the guitars. Keeping with the up beats, fast tempos, and timing is Les Binks on drums. His drumming is epic. No other word to describe it.

Musically, this album has a lot to offer. Great riffs, great leads, fast drumming and screaming vocals. All ingredients for a great Heavy Metal album. The song structures were very unique for its time. The combination of styles on this album is still heard throughout Heavy Metal today. The speed alone on several songs made this one of the fastest records around during it’s heyday. This style of music helped to create Thrash and Speed Metal. Production on this record is very clean from the instrumentation to the vocals.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Exciter” 5:34
2. “White Heat, Red Hot” 4:20
3. “Better by You, Better Than Me” (Spooky Tooth cover) 3:24
4. “Stained Class” 5:19
5. “Invader” 4:12
Side two
6. “Saints in Hell” 5:30
7. “Savage” 3:27
8. “Beyond the Realms of Death” 6:53
9. “Heroes End” 5:01

Frontal Assault: Angel Witch

Rating: 70%

Angel_Witch_frontal_assault_2.jpgIn 1986, “Frontal Assault” was the NWOBHM was released in the U.S. This album featured half on the album “Frontal Assault” and the other half was from the album “Screamin’ ‘n’ Bleedin’.” This album features vocalist David Tattum, bassist Peter Gordelier, guitarist Kevin Heybourne and drummer Spencer Hollman.

Although, a decent effort, this album comes with many flaws. First and foremost, is the background noise. I know that this was an issue back in the 1980’s with many many bands, but this album to me sounded very flat. Which is shame, because Angel Witch had a chance to among the top of the NWOBHM and with each album including this one, they failed to capitalize on it. Because of that, they’ll always be a secondary band of the movement.

With regards to the music, there are some outstanding pieces of work here. “Evil Games” features a pretty decent guitar riff. In fact, all of the songs are decently structured with some outstanding riffs and leads. The vocal work is decent, but at times is a bit drawn out. That is where the album becomes a bit boring. With regards to the music, it’s heavy and seems doomy at times, but again, the production and the sound just seems so damn flat. Which is a shame, because as a kid, I had high hopes for this band and those hopes some 25 years later have dwindled.

Do what I did, save yourself some money and preview all of their songs and download those that you like. They have some really good ones out there. It’s just not worth buying the entire albums for.

Track listing:

1. Dream World 03:50
2. She Don’t Lie 05:51
3. Frontal Assault 04:01
4. Something Wrong 04:37
5. Straight from Hell 04:20
6. Evil Games 04:14
7. Waltz the Night 05:58
8. Goodbye 03:45
9. Fatal Kiss 04:43
10. Whose to Blame 04:07