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“…don’t be afraid, don’t run away…”
It’s not often you find a metal compilation titled to beat around the bush. Nah, it usually hits you like a rock, or in direct relevance to the musical style here, a cannonball – Metal Massacre, Metallic Storm, Speed Metal Hell, Thrash Metal Attack, Skull Thrash Zone, German Metal Fighters, and the wonderfully clear in all meaning and intent, Scandinavian Metal Attack. It’s not one you’d want to lay across the back of a baseball jersey, but it’s great all the same.
A tag like Scandinavian Metal Attack is meant to get the shagheads through the door that you know would revel in such an event (and of course with the additional hope that this number is legion). Another hope, albeit secondary, is it’ll pique the primal curiosity of the casual rocketeer who isn’t immediately frightened away by it. Then when the final aesthetic is a front cover emblazoned with Mårten Eskil Winge’s painting “Tors Strid Med Jättarna” (“Thor’s Fight with the Giants”) that will surely trumpet the bearded honor of every northern-born spirit with a mead-filled horn in his hand, then maybe, just maybe, a copy or two might find its way outta the store if it isn’t carelessly flipped past on the record rack, plain and simple. The big picture is that any compilation’s name or jacket magic is the small picture, the stroll to home plate where the batter’s box awaits, that chalked-out rectangle where the real game lives and breathes. It’s there bands dig in their cleats, spit sixteen times, and wait breathlessly to avoid that breaking ball to the groin.
Released on 1984’s mere 19th pitch of January, the attack was launched around the time major changes were being made in metal’s rulebook, stylistically from whatever known pitching passed for early speed and power metal to the unknown future fields of thrash metal and its 90+ mph fastballs. Ultimately, however, SMA is a little too early to really catch a glimpse of metal’s newer uniforms, but one or two of its players are squinting like hell to see ‘em. The others…well, I think some are almost playing a different sport.
For this collection, pre-played content seems par for the course, with a few groups having previously released albums in the big leagues from where a song or two (from more than one band) has been loaned out to fill grooves here. An example is the game’s opening swing which doubles as the title of Oz’s ’83 lp, Fire in the Brain. While this cool n’ catchily-chorused single, as well as their upper deck home run “Search Lights”, could be viewed as reruns from the Finlandians’ last season, they do a helluva job brightening up the disc’s highlight reel, frankly more so than just about anyone else.
Another pair of momentarily-traded players, Swedes this time, are Trash’s “No More Rock Tonight” and “Watch Out”, titled after their ’83 debut. Because this five-piece pretty much fouls out, we luckily only have to witness their hard rock trot back to the dugout, and while Trash probably isn’t trash definitively, things around here would be better off if they trotted outta this game and down to the showers.
Exclusive appearances from Sweden’s Spitfire somewhat surprise and win over this fan, not only with the burly traditional swing of their bat, but the noticeable effort that sends ‘em up the base path. “Eyes of Storm” at first seems like it’s gonna whiff behind its lightly-plucked ballad trance and a swingin’ n’ missin’ set o’ pipes that are kinda off-key and come close to mewling, however a well-timed shot to the gear shift gets things going along with some seedier vocals and carries on over to “Crazy Living” and its Tyrant-like (GER), compellingly simple rhythmic drama.
Yo! Zero Nine! What is this, backyard badminton? Despite a pair of ’82 full-lengthers and a batting helmet full of singles, this Finnish sextet bless two new ones unto the collection with the MTV C-grade “Under the Sun” and micro-metalized “Walk Away”, which would rock their sooner-than-later ’84 lp Headline and anything else they’d ever do (as recent as ’09) further into oblivion. Please tell me, why this band? Did it involve slipping a stuffed envelope under the door of the men’s room? I mean, Trash can stay if these guys drown in the shower instead. Consider this compilation penalized 09% metal points for wasting shelter on this crapola.
Left, of course, is the cackling wyrd of Bathory, easily the most relished and renown relic of the roster, adjectives proven by the sands of time that, by this time, haven’t yet been turned to coal by the debut’s goat breath. A team of three (fleshed out by drummer Van McBurger and bassist Freddan) partake in the summoning, yet who else but Quorthon wields the black cold-iron club to clock these early, manageable, Venom-injected, demo-less, pre-thrash, pre-official ghosts of “The Return of Darkness and Evil” and scarce personal fave, “Sacrifice”, into unlit alcoves of the ball park. Consequently, it’s these lost candles that have burned this ten-tracker into the memories of most Bathory hunters.
Clearly this attack isn’t lacking some weaklings banished to the bottom of the batting order, but its overall hitting average translates to a 3-fer-5 night, which isn’t something to sell the franchise over. Held aloft on shoulders are Oz and Bathory while their families proudly wave from the bleachers, meanwhile the decently-performing Spitfire throw up a few hi-fives and unexpectedly vanish from the festivities. The rest…well…whatever. Zero Nine as a draft choice for this is still a mystery to me as no relation seems to exist between the other acts or the label. Same goes for Spitfire, but at least they pulled the ball for some hits, and if anything, their unnatural lack of history should mystify anyone who gives a hoot.
As for the others, the connections are pretty simple. The record label Tyfon Grammofon, which financed Oz’s ’82 debut, was founded by Borje Forsberg, who would very shortly plant the flag of Black Mark Productions, the label that released Trash’s ’83 debut. He’s also Quorthon’s ‘ol man. Y’see, the baseball diamond comes full circle. I guess.
Fun fact 89d (-2): my favorite compilation title ever is Witchery Spellbinders, an Aussie from ’75 that’s also the first ever v/a to feature the electrical burns of AC/DC.
“…you’ve still got the strength to start up the black metal storm…”
Scandinavian Metal Attack is a five band split featuring uprising (at the time) artist from, where else, Scandinavia. One of the bands featured on Scandinavian Metal Attack is Bathory, which was more than enough to make me check this out, and I’m glad I did for this is one amazing split.
The Bathory side is by far my favorite side of Scandinavian Metal Attack. The first track, “Sacrifice”, is Venom worship with an intro riff that sounds similar to something from Motörhead. “The Return of Darkness and Evil” is different from the version on The Return...with the version on Scandinavian Metal Attack being a bit slower in tempo. The riffs have more of a speed metal influence to them instead of a black metal influence that would be later Bathory. The production on the Bathory side is actual better than the production on the debut album, with the drums being more audible and the riffs more distinct from each other.
Oz play very fast, fun, and catchy metal that is closer to hard rock in the line of Kiss. Their vocalist Tapani Anselm is really impressive. He doesn’t sound like anyone I've heard before with his deep voice that bounces everywhere and insanely catchy choruses. “Fire in the Brain” is loaded with fast melodic riffs and has the catchiest choruses on Scandinavian Metal Attack. The other track, “Search Lights”, is full of fast melodic riffs also, but it’s not as memorable due to it not having catchy choruses.
Trash play simple hard rock with some catchy riffs and great drumming. “Watch Out” is great with its catchy intro riff, hammering drums, and cool bridge section. “No More Rock Tonight” isn’t that good however, and its probably the worst track on Scandinavian Metal Attack. The track is too repetitive for my liking; a rather uninspired riff played over and over with Tony Hellander not sounding as good as he does on “Watch Out”. His high notes are unpleasant and it’s annoying to listen to him screaming at the top of his lungs. The Trash material sounds the loudest of all and have the best production job out of all five acts. The hammering snare drum and fiercely hit cymbals are always heard, with Tony Hellander and his Rob Halford-like shrieks drowning everything out. It’s a bit of a disappointment how Trash could write something like “Watch Out” (one of the best on here), but then write something like “No More Rock Tonight.”
Spitfire didn’t go anywhere or even release an album. I think the band broke up right after Scandinavian Metal Attack was released. Anyway, “Eyes of Storm” starts out like a ballad with a calming guitar and rather unremarkable vocals. After the ballad part is over the track gets better with its '80s groove, heavy riffs, and energetic vocals. You can clearly tell that he has no experience whatsoever on vocals, yet he doesn’t sound terrible. He has an average range, mostly hitting high notes, and other than the into of “Eyes of Storm” he’s quite good. “Crazy Living” is more of the same only without the ballad intro and Kimmo Morja is screaming like a maniac throughout.
Zero Nine are one of the first heavy metal bands from Finland. Zero Nine have some catchy riffs like the one on “Under the Sun”. The problem is that Zero Nine do not have that great of a vocalist. Kepa Salmirinne is the worst vocalist out of the bunch. His range is limited and sounds monotonous with the exception coming from the chorus on “Rock Away”. The drums are also bothersome with a bass drum sounding weak and the quiet snare being an annoyance also. There is a bit of groove in their sound, especially in the bass work. This helps Zero Nine out because it makes Zero Nine easiest to listen and get into.
Scandinavian Metal Attack is a great split with all five bands playing excellent heavy metal. Every track is great with the exception being “No More Rock Tonight”. This split is highly recommended and is worth everyone's time to check out.