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Americanized Judas Priest? - 76%

Brainded Binky, July 15th, 2014

How many of you have heard of Ded Engine? Nobody? Okay, let me explain. Ded Engine was a band from Detroit whose sound was once described as an "Americanized Judas Priest". I would both agree and partially disagree. They've certainly got some catchy stuff on this album "Hold a Grudge", which was their last effort (at least in the 80's, for the band has never officially split up). At the same time, however, there are quite a few blemishes here and there.

I guess one factor that led some people to believe that it was an Americanized version of Judas Priest's sound is the guitars. Doug Horstman has actually come up with some pretty catchy hooks, one example of which can be found in "High Rider", which is a pretty cool driving song. It's got the feel of someone riding a motorcycle across the desert, possibly wearing shades, and the catchy, if not easy-to-play, hook contributes to that sound. That's the kind of riff that anybody'd expect to come from Judas Priest, at least from at the time they released "British Steel". Another cool song on here is "Unleash the Beast". It's a rapid song with a crunching (and again, catchy) riff that you could also expect Judas Priest to write.

There are some differences between Ded Engine and Judas Priest, mainly in the vocals. Marky DeSade has a gruff and sneering baritone voice, like Rob Halford in some songs, but the resemblances end there. He doesn't do a metal scream all that well, and it just comes out sounding like a bat shrieking rather than a demon. You can hear his attempts to scream in "White Hot", if you want to hear for yourself. On top of that, he uses his gruff baritone voice quite a lot throughout the album, and he doesn't go any higher than a tenor/baritone voice. Not that that's a bad thing, though, cos it actually makes Ded Engine sound more original rather than a bunch of Judas Priest wannabes. That's the kind of factor in which I kind of disagree with the people who claim that it's an "Americanized Judas Priest", cos judging DeSade's vocals, I'd say that Ded Engine is its own band with its own sound.

Another reason why I disagree with a lot of the people that say that is cos the choruses are especially catchy, possibly than anything Priest had written, even in their "Turbo" days. In fact, their choruses usually only consists of the song's title repeated over and over. It's like they are so desperate to get attention, that they felt that the only need to do that is if they'd jam the chorus into your head. That's not really a good thing, either, cos that's the sort of thing that pop artists would do with their songs. Those choruses are especially annoying in "Hang Together" and "Termination Day". "Unleash the Beast" isn't as bad, cos it makes up for that with its speed and aggression.

The worst offender, however, is the final track, "Violence is Golden". Not only does the melody of the chorus go along with the riff, which is also repeated over and over, but every single verse goes along with it as well. This makes the riff extremely redundant and thus it ruins the song. Oh, and did I mention that it goes on for six minutes? Yeah, six minutes of that same riff being played over and over again. It's soft sometimes, but that doesn't make it good. What's more is that practically two minutes of the track involves DeSade rambling about rising up and fighting oppression. This would work as stage banter if the band was performing live, but not if it was recording a song for an album. And of course, that same riff is played as he is speaking. Sure, you get something different before each chorus, but those are short, and they don't do much to cover the damage.

"Hold a Grudge" has its ups and downs, but the people that call Ded Engine an Americanized Judas Priest are partially right. They've got the crunching guitars and catchy riffs that Judas Priest was known for, but not necessarily the right credentials to be an Americanized clone. "Violence is Golden" could have been the song that made me give the album a 50% if it weren't for "High Rider" or "Unleash the Beast". The album isn't terrible, nor is it a rare gem. Should you come across it at a record store and buy it, however, be sure to take the needle off the record after the second to last track finishes.