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The Final Test Before a Coveted Hellish Admission - 78%

bayern, January 22nd, 2021

These lads liked releasing doubles: they had two demos in 1986, and then added two more in 1987, the second of which is dissected here. Style-wise the band found themselves at the very core of the burgeoning speed metal movement in their homeland, the “Tales of a Blind Man” that came out before that one arguably their finest hour, an explosive mix of Angel Dust’s “Into the Dark past” and Warrant’s “First Strike”. The muddy sound quality was not an impediment for the guys to show that they meant business, and that establishing themselves on the upper echelon of the wave was only a matter of time…

sure thing, but only if the guys had managed to escape the “softening on the sophomore” syndrome that was quite typical for the German (Running Wild, Warrant, Iron Angel, etc.) practitioners. Well, they didn’t, and this effort here tries to shy away at times from the unbridled vigour that made its predecessor such a compulsive listen. The church-like organs at the start of “Cry Out” are already a warning, and although the overall approach again belongs to the speed metal parameters, the setting has become a tad mellower and more complex, the band now looking at the progressive metal fraternity as well. Said number frequently exudes the expected speedy urgency, but its loftier aspirations are quite clear, the latter accentuated on “Torquemada”, a more sprawling epicer with a cool memorable chorus, the mid-ranged semi-clean vocalist trying his best to assist the dynamic proceedings with his not very prodigious, not exceedingly adventurous range. Slower dramatic build-ups further ornate this tribute to the Spanish Inquisition, before “Empty Lanes” introduces a steady galloping rhythm for a change, winking at the US power metal forces, a more laid-back but more diverse proposition with nice melodic developments. Comes “Halloween” afterwards, a cut already familiar from the preceding demo, a speed metal hymn second-to-none previously, here trimmed of its bigger bite and vehemence, conformed with the more tamed delivery epitomized.

Good stuff all around, one that won’t take ages to get accustomed to; it’s just that the more spontaneous spirit of earlier recordings captures the imagination more fully, not to mention the compulsive mosh instigation invariably attached to them, and certainly the sweet memories of times long gone. The production remains on a near-pristine level, something that could have been upgraded having in mind the bigger musical ambition on display… but it’s the good old German underground, after all; who wants it neat and tidy in a hellish place like that? Committing yourself to it won’t grant you immortality, but would by all means put you up front on the waiting list for purgatory admission.