without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Of course, "Metal Rendez-vous" was not the debut of the Swiss metal rockers. But due to its liveliness, the new lead vocalist and a significant change of style, the album had the aura of a newcomer´s first work. Even today, almost 35 years after its release, it sounds fresh and rather exciting. From today´s point of view, it seems logical that this carefree yet professional record cleared the way for the heavy metal markets worldwide.
Noticeably and extremely positive was that Krokus did not focus on the mainstream audience. The majority of the songs was straightforward and powerful. Tracks such as the up-paced opener or the dark "Come On", which convinced not only by its edgy choruses, offered an remarkable heaviness, particularly in 1980. Admittedly, some other tunes did not reach that level of metallic intensity. Nevertheless, this album delivered a more than solid dose of musical aggression.
Apart from this, "Metal Rendez-vous" earned for the band the reputation of being European AC/DC clones. Maybe this was true in individual cases, but it could not be generalized. For example, it is correct that the verses of the casual (and slightly commercial) "Bedside Radio" or the light and loose "Lady Double Dealer" showed striking similarities with the typical tracks of the Australians, especially due to the rhythm guitars and the simple drumming. But songs like "Streamer" or "Fire" headed in an other direction. I am not a great fan of these pieces. From my point of view, they constitute the only bad songs on this album. But I really cannot blame them for sounding like second class AC/DC tunes. Additionally, a track like "Tokyo Nights" with its melancholic approach and its Far Eastern melody line did not follow the songwriting pattern of the Australians in any way.
The inspired band benefitted from a powerful production that set all instruments in the right light. However, the main focus was on Marc Storace´s variable vocals. He appeared for the first time and his performance took the band to the next level. His charisma was surprising and I did not care about the fact that he sounded a bit like Bon Scott. In 1980, this style of singing was just the state of the art. The crispy riffs also contributed to the good overall impression. The band obviously liked the riffs, too. Some of them reappeared on later works of the group. In this respect, "Say Goodbye" from the awkward "Change of Address" marks the prime example. Its riffing was evidently a slavish imitation of the guitar lines of "Tokyo Nights".
Well, you did not need to be the greatest guitarist of all times to play the easily structured songs of this album. The same applied for the rhythm section. For example, you can learn the drum parts of the tunes in five days, although the first two cuts of the B side offered some unusual percussion parts. But what ultimately matters are the songs themselves. In this regard, Krokus held all the aces.
Krokus – Metal Rendez-Vous
This damn early release (1980!) by Krokus was I think the second album I heard from them, and I’ve owned it for about 6 years. It’s an impressive album, particular given the early release date, but probably fails to stack up to what many consider their master-work: ‘Headhunter’ (1983). The sound on this one marks a departure from the previous few records, with the addition of ‘classic sound’ Krokus vocalist Mark Storace, as well as somewhat of a more mature overall sound.
The opener ‘Heatstrokes’ is a strong and energetic track which kicks of the album with a bang, while not having any of the distinction of Krokus’ finer tracks such as ‘Headhunter’ or ‘Fire’. It’s a strong yet simplistic effort, which serves as a good introduction to the new vocal stylings on board, and packs a decent amount of pace which most would appreciate.
One of my favourite tracks is ‘Come On’, in at track three which tackles the generic ‘we’re a rock band and we’re here to rock’ subject matter, yet does it with some stylistic devices and excellent lyrics. It’s got a driving, energetic sound influenced by the Riot/Accept-ishness of the guitars. I enjoy the simple yet effective chorus, with lyrics which are a tad odd - “Come on, come on – to the place where the evil dies” – I find this a strange choice of lyric, but it sticks in your mind a lot. A well crafted song all-round, this one sees some good choices in guitar riffs by Fernando von Arb & Tommy Kiefer. Quite a bit of variety through the song, with distinct segments which accentuate the effect of the hard rockin’ lyrics. Storace is well showcased, with a powerful voice and no problem hitting notes.
Your slow numbers are tackled in ‘Streamer’ and ‘Tokyo Nights’, with the former being a particularly lengthy affair with production including some rain, storm and thunder effects for good measure during the intro section. I’m not to sure what the song is about really, but again, the vocals are performed readily by Storace, who is a good vocalists which often overlooked in discussions on classic metal vocalists. I guess he doesn’t have the range and mindblowing capabilities of other greats though, but he is good. ‘Tokyo Nights’ is probably one of the tracks weaker moments, with unimaginative riffs, and lyrics dealing with a love affair with a saucy Japanese geisha girl.
Tracks like ‘Shy Kid’ are interesting, but kind of a mixed bag affair. I don’t care for the ‘old-timey-ness’ of the riff in the first verse of the song, which is also coupled with some lame vocals which are an example of lyrics aimed at pleasing the American music market, like what Priest done in the early and mid-80’s after the success of ‘British Steel’. Anyway, the lyric goes something like “Way down in Boston… way down in Memphis”. As a geography graduate, I take exception to this, anyone with a basic knowledge of the area knows Boston isn’t “Way down” from anywhere (excluding Canada, which I don’t think they were – few do), meaning this was a rather poor choice in vocal, but I digress.
‘Lady Double Dealer’ is an example of the bands KISS/AC-DC type brand of rock n roll and is pretty decent, with a memorable chorus, that’s vocals and guitars are incredibly comparable to KISS. There’s a pretty neat lyric in the song in which the guy tells a girl he’s seeing (the ‘Lady Double- Dealer as it were) that she spends too much time listening to his (presumably heavy metal) records, rather than shagging him – great stuff. He also notes that she’s constantly borrowing his records, but never returning them, and expresses his frustration. This little diversion from the standard lyrical formula is awesome. I’m thoroughly intrigued by the girl mentioned here, and aroused by her desire to listen to heavy metal records. Either she’s a genuine ‘rock chick’ with attitude, or the protagonist is rather crap in bed. With all the birds starved for rock in Switzerland, and the relative success of Krokus (even by this early date) comparable to other Swiss acts (let’s say Bullet), my money’s on the former – however; you never know.
Anyway, a strong effort from this enjoyable 80’s hard rock/heavy metal act. People often refer (my self included) to Krokus as the Swiss AC-DC. No doubt this band seems to be a major influence in the band’s sound, but detractors of “Acka – Dacka” (to use a regional term for them) will be pleased to know that this particular release features a less AC-DC relying sound than others (specifically ‘One Vice At A Time’). The most notable tracks include ‘Fire’ (an epic complete with dramatic guitar lead passages; at over six minutes in length), ‘Come On’ and possibly ‘Heatstrokes’, with ‘Back Seat Rock n Roll’ being a fun affair, with a strong AC-DC influence and no real distinctive features. Strong release with good production values, though the bass and drums are markedly quiet at times. Classic hard rock/heavy metal fans would be well advised to check this little number out, and it’s a good starting point for the band, due to it being a bit of a shift from their earlier stuff toward their ‘classic era’ sound. This release also features excellent album art. The image of two classic cars ‘going at it’ is pretty original, and really well-done. Bonus marks for that.