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Deserving of glory, envy and a listener - 90%

Gutterscream, April 29th, 2005
Written based on this version: 1983, 12" vinyl, Independent

" one shall live when I die..."

Information on this remote Canadian three-piece is right up there with lunar rocks and 1923 tax reports of the average Ugandan pipe fitter. Their sole lp, privately pressed, rare, and produced by Lips of Anvil, comes in various colored wax in a plain white sleeve with the band logo/Kraken drawing, and is a stalwart champion to the traditional heavy metal genre they’re entrenched in. Of course, the term ‘traditional’ can be too broad a brush to paint a truly definitive sound, but if traditional means crossing the mountain-moving triumph of Manowar with the fretboard fluency of Maiden, Legend, and sparks of Diamond Head, then break open that clam ‘cos there’s a pearl just waiting to breathe. Martin Popoff, editor of the Goldmine Heavy Metal Price Guide, heralds this as one of the best Canadian efforts of all time, and as often as I disagree with the guy, he’s just about bullseyed this one.

The only thing that detracts from the greatness of this ten-tracker is the slight water-in-the-ear production, unfortunately blunting what would most assuredly be a crisp resonance. It’s well known colored wax is inferior to common black, the substance’s natural color, with additives and impurities doing nothing to enhance sound (just looks pretty) and could be the culprit, but it’s not nearly enough to totally flatten this.

Right off the bat, guitarist Karm Kleaver rips into “Abandoned” and a short solo lick with Spike Audia’s clean, mid-high vocals and Rome Steeler’s thundering double bass bringing up the rear. Unlike a lot of trad-metal, the power is tangible, ensnaring your attention with limbs of its own. “Blitzkrieg” plays with a sludgy afterthought, but is turns out more conventional and somewhat commercial, but opens the door for the vigorous “Snowbank 101”, an up-tempo gust of gallant songwriting that cannot be ignored. Fretboard dynamics are Olympic-level in the storming “Burn Witch Burn” with solos spiraling like eddies around a chorus laced with deadly potency. Intense “Greed and Deception” is home to another solo screamer, a track rife with rapid heaviness that takes everything vapid and banal and banishes it into some netherworld. The most power unleashed yet.

After that marauding ogre ends side one, the uncharacteristically titled and lengthy “Sleazy, Easy” rolls off the road and into the shoulder seemingly toward more ballad-y Dokken-esque pastures, then as if dispelling a drunken haze, two-wheels it back onto the highway, setting a course a sound heavy, deliberate, and even fist-swinging toward the end. Top tune “Warriors” unleashes grand rhythms, frantic soloing, a marching “Am I Evil?”-ish ending, and a chorus cast in Manowar stone, that pure metal blessing trumpeting the imperial purple of victory that I’ve heard only a few bands summon. After that, it’s only natural “Kill the King” would sit back and relax a bit, but the rattling double bass and heroic chorus say nay, the king charges into battle. “The Kraken” is the final roundup, another track with all the toe-tapping prowess of Godzilla left-hooking skyscrapers.

The only thing that isn’t near perfect (beside the mix) is Audia’s vocals. While very talented and befitting this style, they sometimes seem a slight edge off, and there are times when an eye-watering high note would fit like a goth store in Greenwich Village, but if that’s the sinker of the lp, then forget about it.

It is an utter shame this never received the recognition it deserves. It being pretty damn hard to find is a factor, plus it’s never been released on cd to my knowledge doesn’t help. Even if you don’t have a turntable, buy the disk, transfer it to cd or even cassette, then re-auction the thing. I only have yellow and white wax versions, so I may just be the one buying it from you.