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Rarely do you hear the name Hittman mentioned even in the most elite circles. I don't even remember how I stumbled upon this album, but rest assured it's quality from start to finish, a bit of a hidden gem if you wil. Sounding an awful lot like Queensryche and Crimson Glory on this release, with a bit of a lighter touch than those bands. Maybe Crimson Glory meets Dokken? Surely that would be a good description for vocalist Dirk Kennedy who's sounds a hell of a lot like Midnight of Crimson Glory. Both singers have the same overly dramatic style, and a similar range to their voice. He is a very talented vocalist but may take a bit to grow on you.
The other musicians perform flawlessly, the guitars on this album are simply amazing. The tone is mouth watering, I don't know if I can think of an 80's heavy metal album with a better guitar tone than this, it's just perfect. The solos, leads, riffs, melodies, everything is catchy and heavy as it should be. As good as Dirk Kennedy's vocals are, the guitars are the real highlight. Also to note, the production as a whole is surprisingly very good for such an obscure release. It sounds much more modern than it's 1988 release date.
The album starts off with a killer 1-2 punch with "Metal Sport" and "Dead on Arrival" with the latter being a simply amazing piece of 80's heavy metal. The arpeggiated sounding riff in the chorus is brilliant. "Backstreet Rebels" gives "Dead on Arrival" a run for it's money for best song on the album. A bit more traditional and light hearted, but god damn it's catchy as hell. Again, the riff under the chorus is a thing of beauty, simple but incredibly effective. "Breakout" is more in the vein of the first 2 tracks, and works very well. Even the quirky cover of "Secret Agent Man" is really not all that bad. If nothing else it's worth hearing for the solo alone.
Definitely an album worth checking out if you're into USPM, or just 80's metal in general.
I’ve had this album on cassette since I purchased it in 1989 and I’ve recently been transferring some old cassettes to WAV files, when I stumbled upon this little gem. I find it surprising however that this CD has no reviews for it. Hittman certainly didn’t make a huge impact on the metal scene but their debut album is full of classy and catchy power metal.
Hittman blends influences from Queensryche & Judas Priest into “classic” song formulas with very enjoyable results. By classic I mean you won’t find any 15 minute epics, but songs revolve around the basic verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo structure. The band is certainly not reinventing any wheels here. However I’ve always said I would rather listen to unoriginal bands with good songs, than avant garde bands that couldn’t write a hook to save their souls. Take this classic structure with the vocals of Dirk Kennedy and you have a really enjoyable album. Mr. Kennedy sings in the upper register, but comes up with catchy vocal melodies, rather than simply screaming for four minutes of a song.
Production on the album is quite good, clean yet heavy for the late 80's. Every instrument is easily heard and no one drowns out the others, with one minor exception. The production on the snare drum is way too loud, (listen to the snare in Will You Be There for an obvious example) but somewhat typical of the era. This certainly doesn’t detract from any enjoyment, however is the most obvious “dated” part of the album production.
The album starts out strong with the one two punch of Metal Sport and Dead on Arrival. Metal Sport is what an opening song should be. Full of up-tempo riffing and great singing that gets an album off to a perfect start. Dead on Arrival melds Judas Priest riffing, with a melodic arpeggio type verse & bridge. Check out the melodies on the line “In the astral plane, you’ll fly” for an example of classy yet catchy vocal lines.
Fourth and best song Breakout has an opening riff, which would have fit perfectly on Queensryche’s The Warning album. It leads into a mid paced head banging song, with probably some of the best vocal melodies on the album. I find the chorus somewhat anti-climactic, especially considering the awesome pre-chorus, but the brilliance of this song has already been established by this point.
The album has a few weaknesses however. Although I enjoy Will You Be There, it is a power ballad that was probably written to score a hit rather than truly expressive song writing. Rather check out the song Behind the Lines for a much better example of a more emotionally successful power ballad. It has better riffs, arrangement and less obvious vocal melodies. The cover of Secret Agent man should have been left off. I would take another play it by the numbers song such as Back Street Rebels in place of this goofy cover song. I understand that metal bands in the late 80’s were looking for crossover appeal. However Hittman’s original music was much stronger and gave the band a better chance of success in my opinion.
If you are a fan of classy power metal, check out this long forgotten album. The band seemed to get passed by as the metal world went in heavier and darker directions in the late 80’s. Although it isn’t a masterpiece this album holds up very well and will be an enjoyable addition to your collection.