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As thrash was peaking from 1986 to 1991, there really was no room for the mediocre band, and Hades showed this with their 1987 debut. The funny thing is that it only went down hill from here until they finally released a solid album with their 2001 effort. The band suffers from a lack of originality in every frontier, with predictable song structures, boring riff work and uninspired, pedestrian drumming that just sounds like nearly every other fast-paced thrash band of their day. Everything about their debut album Resisting Success just screams "rip-off".
Their guitar work follows the thrash pattern of abusing tremolo picking and the occasional chord-based riff or pull-off based riff and this would be all fine and dandy if it had not been done to death by now. Slayer had released Reign In Blood, Dark Angel's Darkness Descends was on shelf, Metalica's chord-heavy Master Of Puppets had been released a year previously. There really was no room anywhere on anyone's shelves for Hades' boring debut. There are the occasional good riffs that stick out, such as on the song Masque Of The Red Death and the slowest riff to the title track but aside from this the band just sounds mundane and tired. The soloing is the same-old nonsense from thrash metal-let's all shred as fast as we can.
The drumming and vocals are boring, with the drummer knowing literally two beats and the vocalist just never really striving to stand out at all. The production does not really help this either as the drums completely dominate the mix so that ANY enjoyment that could be gained from the guitars and even the bass work can not be heard at all. The songs themselves follow the same verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure that has been done to death and the album drags on too long. Most of the songs here are really not needed at all and only drag the album down. It would be better served as just a three or four track EP. Legal Tender is the worst offender here, with snooze-inducing riffing being taken to monumental heights here and it is guaranteed to send you to sleep.
Resisting Success is not particularly an awful album at all, it just never threatens to set the world alight. It really does not have a whole lot of substance to it nor consistency, plus it is far too generic.
I am always hesitant to give an album a score this high because there is always something you can find fault with, and even though there is very little here that I personally can criticize, plenty of people will find something they dislike about this album for whatever reason. So, I deducted a couple points, just because.
To me, this has always ranked as one of the greats; the pinnacle of mid-80's speed/thrash metal, executed to perfection in every way possible. By the time they released this LP, the band had been around in some form or other for nearly nine years and gone through many changes, all that time developing and perfecting their sound. They started life as a traditional metal band but evolved into a thrash band over the years, successfully transitioning to that sound without sounding a bit forced or cheezy. (A certain Texas band made a similar transition less successfully, yet were less successful at resisting success- wrap your heads around THAT one, Hades fans, ha ha!)
Basically almost everything about this album is perfect. The production brings out the blistering guitar sound and thrashy energy, the playing is spot on, top notch, with great musicianship, and the songs are almost uniquely excellent, without one single filler track. Production-wise, there are no unbalanced instruments or flaws with the mix at all. While the riffs and the playing is often very technical, they never sacrifice songcraft or catchiness merely for the sake of playing technical riffs, which was a common trap that many a "technical thrash band" would fall into as the decade progressed. ALL of these songs are catchy and flow nicely from beginning to end, even the somewhat long "Masque of the Red Death" (which I subtracted a point for being a bit too long, even though it never really gets tiresome) I will also mention the vocals; Tecchio's high register vocals are not my favorate style of singing BUT: To his credit, he pulls it off perfectly. He hits every single high note spot on, without wavering or sounding itchy, and his voice retains the power it needs to and suits the music well.
What I like about this record is it's diversity. Every song is distinct, and stylistically different, without ever sounding contrived- they all just fit together. You have your blistering, balls out thrashers like opening track "The Leaders" and "Legal Tender." There are galloping midpaced riff monsters like "On to Illiad", "Night Stalker" and the aforementioned "...Red Death" and your slow, doom-ish traditional metal track "Sweet Revenge" which, although a slower track, still has an instantly memorable and very monstrously good riff throughout- it rocks, trust me. Even the ballad "The Cross" is a great song, holding a lot of power and atmosphere. This song compares favorably to the best of the Christian-themed "white doom metal" bands. I admit some may not quite buy into the pro-Jesus leanings of the lyrics; I wont criticize anyone else's beliefs here nor will I editorialize about it further- but rest assured Hades never intended to be a "Christian" band a la Stryper. And "The Cross" is a much better song, more powerful and effective than anything Stryper ever wrote.
Really, the whole thing just smokes, from beginning to end, showing that they can thrash with the best of em- and outdo just about anyone with their more traditional metal songs as well. It's just a combination of great riffs, great energy, and technical playing which lifs this album above most of their contemporaries, and it really is a shame that it's title became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I was surprised to notice I was the second one to review this excellent album, because I believe it was known by lots of thrashers. I listened to a song on the Stars On Thrash compilation and I immediately found their first two albums. Hades from U.S.A., and not from Norway, started their career playing the classic U.S. power metal at the end of the 70s to move to a more compact thrash/speed with the always present power elements. Anyway, don’t expect to listen to a German style power metal band because we all know the differences between these two kinds of power metal.
This one is surely more violent and dynamic without being the cheesy German one. Here those ingredients are mixed in a perfect way to create good songs. Another band that comes to my mind in this field are Paradox: both have the ability to create always very catchy songs through heavy dosage of thrash/speed metal too. So we can find tracks like “The Leaders?” where the band is free to show all the abilities on the speed parts, broken by excellent melodic solos or the following “Nightstalker” were the speed is a bit abandoned for the initially groove riffs and following mid paced tempos.
But don’t worry because we have the lethal “Legal Tender” to raise the flag of the most pure speed/thrash metal. It’s a very fast song with good, intricate guitars riffage and fast solos. The vocals are truly in speed metal style with some higher tonality parts, but the whole thing doesn’t sound exaggerated or monotonous because Tecchio has a beautiful, versatile vocal style that can fit in any kind of song in this genre. The more quiet “On To Illiad” is a small starter to the very good, more speed oriented “Widow’s Mite”.
The good thing in these songs is that each and every one features a groovy, almost hard rock touch that, combined with the speed parts gives you the idea of completeness and excellent songwriting. The technical level of these five musicians is never to question. Each guitars solo, for example, is a demonstration of great ability and sense of melody. Sometimes, like in the complicated title track, the progressive metal influences are well visible and sound extremely good.
In those parts, the vocals are very Anthrax oriented…like in their first period. The riffs on “Sweet Revenge” have a dark feeling, reminding me some early Testament parts. Surely Testament got influenced by Hades, not the contrary. This song, despite the title, features groove parts and some good solos alternation. “The Cross” is pure, dark, power metal ballad, excellent for those who want to know the pure 80s sound in that period. The tempos are less impulsive and the melody plays the main role with the arpeggios.
During the last 9 minute song, we can hear influences that go from Iron Maiden in the first part to Black Sabbath in the second. The bass is far more audible here than in most of the other songs. Overall, this is a very good, technical album by a group that deserved an higher dose of luck and success.
From more or less my neck of the woods comes Hades, a potent power/thrash group that can never be mistaken for the former Hades of Norway or the recently released Chinese one. They’re a band much like Leatherwolf that practically bled talent and showmanship only to fail to achieve the exaltation they deserve. It’s not like they don’t have enough lps out. They’ve also always had this predilection with money and success (and the topic ornaments three of their lp titles) that I never quite understood, but I never asked them, either.
The five-piece are rightfully associated with the NY/NJ thrash scene in the mid/late ‘80s, but their songwriting aptitude doesn’t wholeheartedly lie in the concoction of vigorous thrash. They’re more apt to pen some elegantly strong power metal that can steer somewhat clear of the molten, or becomes a melding of both styles reminiscent of Taking Over-era Overkill, The Ultraviolence-age Death Angel, and the aforementioned Leatherwolf. Alan Tecchio, pre-Watchtower and yet uncelebrated despite his advanced range, even while hitting falsetto levels that can have canines running, is a real emerald of envy among similar bands while the rest of the musical bedrock are as tight and pronounced as they come.
The fairly safe “The Leaders?” begins side one, a robust tune with a slew of rhythms shifts and meaty chorus that’s just an aerobic warm-up for the band. “Legal Tender ” has a guitar twiddling, raucous main riff that sounds like “Thrashers” and “Electro-Violence” had hammered into one another at an intersection. “Sweet Revenge” is a slow, punching tale dominated by a rhythm marked by the dramatic, meanwhile “Nightstalker” commences with a similar hunting gait, but quickly leaps out of shadow for a fleet-footed sally of wily drumwork, alluring melody and is a fine finale for the side.
Side two doesn’t rest on its laurels and keeps the pressure stoked through its entirety. “Resist $uccess” (notice the $, as in $avior $elf) is another hard plower riding on the strength of its domineering main stroke and vocally-backed chorus, but tends to pale to the might of the solid, prevailing cadence of “Widow’s Mite (Chapter Eleven)” and its roiling set of solos via Scott LePage and Dan Lorenzo. Despite the ire of “Widow’s Mite”, it has a difficult time sparring with the super-tough, Mighty Joe Young of a power ballad that is “The Cross”. Mystical acoustics backed with airy keys sets a majestic timbre that cannot help but lay defeated, overcome by a jarring, precise riff crowned by a luminescent Tecchio crystal breaker. The multi-part “Masque of the Red Death” is unsurprisingly the lp’s climax. With facet-splicing narratives, a kaleidoscope of moods, intense musicianship and a well-written story reflective of a slightly sunnier Iced Earth, “Masque…”, to a lesser degree, is their “Dante’s Inferno” and “Metropolis Pt. 1”. Musically, the band cooks here, especially when act three, “The Masquerade including the Twelfth Hour and Return of the Red Death”, comes knockin’.
What started out as a light set of squat thrusts ends up a full-on balance beam act. Too bad the seats aren’t packed. If anything, the title symbolically marks their downfall. Sure, they sell some records now and then, but so do Lawrence Welk and the Bay City Rollers. Recommendable to those wanting to hear the real Hades.