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“…jump, there ain’t no other way, smash yourself to smithereens…”
One of the more obscure baubles that rolled outta Metal Blade’s far from obscure roster is this lonely ep from this L.A. quintet, a five-song shorty that acquired some glitz when its producer’s chair got to know Yngwie Malmsteen’s ass pretty well (who also guest-throws subtle frets around finale “Adagio (for a Dead Soldier)”) as well as some early Randy Burns engineering. We also have Mark Edwards, ex-drummer of Steeler (he along with former Steeler bassist Ron Murray are yer Yngwie connection) and future ex-drummer of Lion and Riot. As well, he’d also release his own equally unknown solo ep called Code of Honor in ’85. And I may as well mention Hellion frontwoman/New Renaissance Records founder Ann Boleyn pitches some guest keyboards in “The Stranger” and “Take That Jump”.
Is the front cover’s radioactive suit guy trying to warn us about a crappy odor that just won't quit? Well, if not with his safety wardrobe, then at least his physical reaction seems to mime a distress call that could very well mean 3rd Stage Alert = 16th Stage Go Back to Bed. I mean, vocalist Dave Drury’s sportin’ what appears to be a maroon Members Only jacket over an AOR red n’ white striped shirt usually coveted by Point Blank or Toronto back-up members. Let’s hope for as little radiation burn as possible.
While I won’t be headbangin’ to mostly lite hard rockers “The Stranger”, slightly catchy “Take That Jump” or the barely awake “Steppin Out” especially, I will be appreciating vigorous “Superstar”, an agreeably driving song that unfortunately kicks off the wrong side, but hey, since it alone is more interesting than the three aforementioned tracks combined, why complain?
Sad soaker “Adagio (for a Dead Soldier)” is all Al Morris and Yngwie, a serene, wordless adieu that isn’t a waste of space like many with this approach, probably because the anticipated and ultimately overused acoustical serenade isn’t delivering its forlorn atmosphere, plus at nearly two minutes doesn’t wear out its welcome. And how often do you not hear Yngwie play like he’s part tornado on his father’s side?
Two (alright, two and a half) outta five isn’t great, but “Superstar” alone…okay, maybe it’s not worth five bucks on its own, but the partially Swede-strummed finale does sweeten the pot a bit, and if you take the jump offered by take-it-or-leave-it “Take That Jump” (a suicide song that includes a nifty guitar-emulated siren), one can perhaps justify the five spot changing hands.
Y’know what would’ve been nice, though? Offer with this “Mind Invader”, their aggressively cool and methodically dynamic Metal Massacre II inclusion that would’ve had no choice but offset the powder puffs of the disc, plus those unfamiliar with the tune could’ve heard Dave Drury sing in a slightly, yet noticeably more masculine register, not to mention Al Morris’ rather extravagant solo. Hmph…either way, it seems only Mr. Edwards went anywhere visible after this alert bit silence.
Progressive metal produced by Yngwie Malmsteen. There are leads on this album with a lead style at times influenced by Yngwie, but the solos are short and tasteful and take a backseat to the song structures. Unfortunately, there is nothing particularly exciting about the songs and the song structures themselves are pretty bland with just one or two riffs for most songs.
The EP seems to get a little better on the B-side with a faster song, "Superstar", about a broken down superstar who doesn't know what to do. The next song is an anti-suicide song called "Take That Jump", which has some interesting guitar parts, like a progressive/experimental breakdown with harmonics and a part where the guitars emulate sirens. The last song is a short acoustic (recorded with transducers, I think) neo-classical piece where Yngwie actually plays.
Perhaps they were not experimental enough with the riffs and song structures to really make the songs stand out. It's not a bad album, but it's by far not the best the 1980s had to offer in terms of metal.
I bought this hoping the song "Mind Invader" would be on it, but it is unfortunately missing from this, their only EP.