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Oz and Anvil started on the same foot despite being far from neighbors. Both are originally named for a band member (vocalist Eero Hamalainen liked to be called The Oz, meanwhile Lips morphed into Anvil). More importantly, both bands’ original sound is a fairly balmy, pallid recipe written primarily in a commercial language with large helpings of hard rock complimenting/detracting from the metal over/undertones (depending on your point of tolerance). Both are direct descendants of ‘70s rock, so what are you going to do?
Bottom line: Heavy Metal Heroes sounds nearly nothing like Fire in the Brain. Thankfully Hamalainen's neglected pipes didn’t stick around for their sophomore offering, an aggressive piece of vinyl that probably would’ve come off as colorless and moth-eaten if he didn't rename himself Ape de Martini with vocals to match. With the exception of “Fortune”, even FITB’s more sober tracks are heavier and more exhilarating than 90% of the debut…friendly songs with a penchant for civility and hugginess sometimes underscored by mushy backing vocals.
The 10% on the daring edge consists of one track, “Saturday Night”, side two’s punchy kicker, a tune with enough energy to warrant special mention in light of the rest of the tepid lp. The others…“Hey You”, “Rather Knight", “Capricorn Man”, “Second Hand Lady”, and especially sappy “Runnin’ The Line” all seem to share the same third rate, bad bar band sound where the crowd is looking around despairingly, hoping the next track is a cover tune they know. Is the date to blame? Not really. I think the lite, unsubstantial sound and image is really what they wanted, and ignorance to more lively bands around them isn’t an issue. Not for nothing, the smiling guitarist on the cover’s right side is wearing an orange leisure jacket, and even Anvil wasn’t this powerless.
What this lp does have going for it, at least the original Krak! version and perhaps the Tyfon one as well, is that it’s a scarce piece for collectors. The Wave edition isn’t half as hard to find with an album cover as eventful as the album itself. As far as heroics go, Heavy Metal Heroes is right up there with Stilt Man, Paste Pot Pete, and The Ringer.