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Well, that’s the slogan embraced by these dirty, raw, drunken, punked-up New Yorkers and their fans.
I may not be the most unbiased reviewer here, because I’ve been pestering Von to actually release something for years now. But here it is, 27 tracks of pure punk-rock-metal.
TRANSILVANIAN BLUES is an interesting mix that is about as raw and ugly as it gets, consisting of two live on-the-air radio performances, a live show at the Silver Bullet Club, and a couple of leftover acoustic demos. The sound quality is about a half-step above absolutely vile, but I feel that it actually enhances the atmosphere of the disc, allowing a glimpse of BMR in that special live setting, free of pretense and inhibitions.
For those of you not familiar with BMR, the music best fits a mixture of sludgy Black Sabbath, The Misfits, and southern blues’n’rock’n’roll ala ZZ Top and CCR.
The first live set here, “Drunkleheit – Live on Radio Underground” highlights a handful of punk covers from the Ramones and Misfits, as well as the BMR “blues-and-booze-and-roll” original compositions. The covers are just that, moments of levity for the band to get off during the performance. Of the BMR originals, we have two songs “The Hangman,” and “Scorpion King,” both relatively previously unplayed. Quicker in pace, both of these tunes feature the energy-packed punk-metal trademark of BMR. “Raining Hell” is more metal pulling strongly towards the Misfits. Von gets about as technical as I’ve ever heard on this track with some interesting soloing around the 2:00 mark. This one must be a killer live track, ‘cause I’m certainly getting into it. “After Hours” is a classic track of drunken blues with some personal lyrics. Definitely a winner here. “Built to Burn” is a track that I’ve been familiar with since its early demo days, and is probably the heaviest BMR track with its chugging, catchy riffs and strong melody. “Devils Highway” is another one of my BMR favourites as this track captures a purely evil atmosphere. Johnny Cash playing metal? This is as close as you can get. Closing out the radio session is “Rebel Hell,” another blues-metal tune somewhat like a heavier “After Hours.” My only complaints about this set are the vocals, which I feel are mixed too high to the point of distortion, as well as the same problem with guitars. Whatever my complaints, it sounds pretty good for cramming an entire band into the radio room.
Next up is the “Return of Drunkness and Evil” radio session. Here’s more BMR as it’s meant to be played: Live, Drunk, and all fuck-ups included free. The sound is much improved, creating a better balance of vocals and guitars (though sometimes a little muffled). Only one cover here (Misfits, this time), and “The Hangman” is the only carry-over from the Drunkleheit session. “Poison Girl” has an odd, but headbang-able groove that is catchy as fuck. It is obvious on this track (and the subsequent), that Von’s voice was totally killed (hah!) by his illness that right, but he manages to make it through, albeit with some interesting tortured growls. In any case, the band is faster and much tighter this time around than the first radio show.
The third offering is the live EP, “Dawn of the Black Drunks.” This is sort of the culmination of the album here, taking the “warm-ups” of the radio sessions and setting BMR free onstage in front of a live audience. Although the sound quality is not very good, it does give us a taste of the final product.
Lastly, for your listening pleasure, are a couple of acoustic demos. Surprisingly, these are quite good, and I wouldn’t mind hearing more “BMR Unplugged.”
All in all, TRANSILVANIAN BLUES is a good compilation showing BMR’s evolution as a live band. Although Unsung Heroes releases their albums in CDR format, you do get decent packaging including full-colour inserts If you’re a fan of simple metal with a good attitude of “let’s just go out and fucking play the show,” and you enjoy demos and general fucking around, then this one is something to check out.