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Yesterday's Heroes - 95%

Danthrax_Nasty, January 20th, 2007

Essentially a near complete collection of Avenger's released materials, this catalog presents a classic NWOBHM band at their prime. Containing 3-ex Bliztkrieg (UK) members originally, vocalist Brian Ross would later vacate his duties to sing for Satan (UK), whom ironicly lead singer Ian Davision Swift had, shortly before, left... eventually ending up in Avenger permanently. The bands overall sound, and appeal, inherently and integrally, lay locked in that catchy early 80's British Metal sound. Incorporating a "sports"-esque (a bit like Raven, but not as over the top) popular image, and catchy accessibility this seems to still retain a hard hitting, "balls to the walls", Heavy Metal edge. Consistent overall, and definitely creatively driven, this pretty much fit the mold for the era... endlessly pumped out solos, burning hooks transitioning catchy pattern after pattern, killers vocals and backing,.. total NWOBHM.

Born from the North East of England, 1982, around the likes of Fist, Raven, etc., it didn't take long for Avenger's name to reach a more than receptive audience, and in no time were headlining gigs, and opening for top local acts. After establishing a viable market for their name, in 1983, Neat Records put them in the studio for a two song single which was to be their first official release other than a demo, and a track on a Neat extended play. On here is the 7" single, one song (Too Wild To Tame) of which was actually an old Blitzkrieg song meant meant to follow Buried Alive (1981). The sound of the single seems to hold the primitive elements of what Avenger would evolve into musically. Too Wild To Tame's slightly rough edged, and kicks out top notch tight,driving rhythms with progressions seemingly very Rock oriented, but just delivered at 200mph. On The Rocks presents a more metallic early Thrash feel. Again unflinchingly straight forward, but with an obviously heavier feel which will take a stronger dominance in the future sound, while still retaining the constant rhythmic reliances on classic Rock patterns, and hooks in the songs structures.

After the release of the single, a heavy leg of touring went under way which resulted in a new singer. Upon arriving home road battered, in 1983, the band went into Impulse Studio (two days after returning home) to record what would later be Blood Sports. Upon release, the album met a fair deal of widespread enthusiasm, reaching as high as No. 5 on the National Charts. Containing a much more focused, albeit painstakingly so, band, the songs on here seem to be laid out to highlight on all the band's better qualities. Choice tracks include Warfare (the chorus sounds exactly Blitzkrieg), Victims Of Force (interesting work with odd timings, great hooks,.. strong thrashy song), You'll Never Take Me (Alive) (classic Heavy Metal sound, with blazing upbeat tempos, and super catchy rhythms). Overall a clear maturity in sound is evident, with ample diversity, and noticeable creative depth, captor of the era's nostalgic omnipotence.

Heavy touring ensued backing the release, and again a member was lost, this time being guitarist Les Cheetham, who wanted to pursue a new direction, and eventually became replaced by American, Greg Reiter. Upon acquiring the credentials to get their new guitarist to England, no time was wasted upon creating what would become Killer Elite. Written in 28 days, and recorded in 9, Killer Elite was to be the crowning achievement for Avenger. The songs on here seem to just exude musical prowess in all departments. Overall the record just show cases another leap forward in both the production, and musical technicality. The solos are extremely tight, dispersed quite actively through out the album, and add quite the unique feel to the tunes. The vocals are clearly recorded better than earlier efforts, and in being so really add more melodic presence to the songs, which compliments the bands own style much better than previous efforts. Strong album from a band at its prime. Albeit a certain level of accessibility was considered during the song writing on here, theres a clear lean in most parts towards an aggressive Metal sound, and noticeably more so than Blood Sports.

Following the release of Killer Elite the band embarked on its final tour, which abruptly ended due to the singer breaking his ankle. Upon returning home in 1986, the band fairly soon lost financial support from Neat Records, after which dissolution took place, and the end had become. Well, in that century.

Overall, a great anthology for any real fan of NWOBHM to check out.