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Judging on the band’s previous two efforts (Projects in the Jungle especially) Pantera have proven themselves capable of writing damn good 80s glam metal songs, as well some pretty killer speed metal as well. Annoyingly, they’ve also proven themselves capable of writing really awful ballads that sound exactly the same and are just there for the sake of having ballads. It was this single flaw that prevented the previous album from achieving a near-perfect score. The production was great, the instrumentation was great, the good songs were great. The ballads were the concrete shoes that forced the album to drown in a sea of tedious mediocrity.
With “I Am The Night”, the band have clearly come to their senses, sat down and pulled their shit together and release a full blown highly consistent heavy metal album. And have they succeeded? Well, upon close observation I’m delighted to discover they have.
I would like to point out at this point that I love glam. My Winger records sit happily next to Wintersun’s in my collection, as is the way they should. It’s marvellous. Even if I wasn’t such a glam fanatic though, I don’t imagine I’d like this album any less. Oh, it’s certainly glam, but speed metal songs like “Down Bellow” with it’s hard hitting thrashy riffs, and the awesome power metal number that is “Valhalla” make the album worthy for anyone who likes a bit of good old fashioned headbanging steel. And then there’s the title track; what a riff! The late Diamond Darrel treats us to a few seconds of his killer fast shredding that he’d later become famous for, before bursting into a vicious speed metal riff, that develops into the heaviest song on the album, and easily the most evil sounding thing they’ve done up till this point (and would do for a good few years yet) with it’s fun shout along choruses. I AM THE NIGHT!
For the more casual glam metal fan, there’s material here for you as well. The opener track “Hot and Heavy” is easily in my mind a glam metal classic, had it been heard by the right people, it may have got the attention it deserved. The whole song is memorable and catchy, and despite the cheesy lyrics at some parts (“Take a look at my ice-cream cone babe. Go ahead, take a lick.” – Hey, it is glam!) it has all the makings of a killer heavy metal anthem. Don’t forget to check out the video for this on YouTube. “Come-On Eyes” is another fun glam track. It doesn’t have quite the impact of the first one, but it’s certainly worth a listen.
Virtually everything is an improvement over the previous album, and aside from the severe case of balled abuse, that album was already very very good. The production here is pretty much what you’d expect for an album of this style and era, and it does the job very nicely. Terry’s vocals had already taken a huge step forward over “Metal Magic” on the previous album, and here things are even better; this time sounding like a cross between Rob Halford’s falsetto “Painkiller”-style shrieks and AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, maybe with a bit of Dee Snider and Vince Neil thrown in as well. A great combination, I must say.
My biggest beef with the previous album however was the fact that they filled up what was otherwise a brilliant album with a bunch of lame ballads. This was like baking a perfectly lovely cheesecake, and then topping it with Marmite. Happily, with the bands third effort, the ballad is made of nice fresh strawberries. And it is just a ballad, as opposed to three of the sodding things (Three!! If you added all the ballads of the first two Poison albums together, you’d still be one less), and I’m happy to say that it’s a winner. Terry sings the whole thing in falsetto Darrel’s guitar work is done perfectly; it gives off a great atmosphere and sticks in your head. This is what a ballad should be like, not those three identical pieces of crap that haunted the previous album.
“I Am The Night” is easy one of the greatest releases of 1985, and runs rings around Mötley Crüe’s album of the same year. There is a throwaway track by the name of “D*G*T*T*M” bit this is merely a little instrumental thrown in for reasons I don’t know, so it’s not really fair to deduct much points from the album because of that. I guess “Daughters of the Queen” and “Right on the Edge” can get a bit boring at times and could be seen as filler, but really, now I’m just nitpicking – they’re still pretty cool songs. Fans of Skid Row, Twisted Sister and the earlier works of Mötley Crüe and 80s metal fans in general can find something to love about this album, and should without hesitation download it or buy a bootleg over Ebay or something, as I’ve seen original copies of the album up for bid at over £150…
It’s such a sad thing that this great album never truly reached the audience it deserved, as these days most of the people that give this – and the other Pantera releases of the 1980s – are angsty groove metal “tough” guys, who will see pictures of the band at this time and make their decisions then and there. If this album had just got a bit more promotion, a bit more attention, it wouldn’t have gone down in history as an embarrassing past for a band, but as what it truely is; a no nonsence, balls out, headbanging, pure heavy metal album.
Please Pantera, do the right thing and re-release your past 80s gems. The world already knows they exist, so why keep pretending that they don’t?