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It just wasn't in the leather cards. - 83%

hells_unicorn, January 12th, 2022
Written based on this version: 1983, Cassette, Miami 1992 Records

Any scene that experiences the level of prominence that the Sunset Strip enjoyed in the 80s is bound to have an endless supply of also rans, some of them that would even have the fire and the chops to rival the acts that hit the big time. One of the clearest cases of this phenomenon to rock the LA scene and play with the big guys was the all-female quartet Leather Angel, originally billed as Obsession and bringing all of the drive and ability to make their mark upon the emergent sleaze rock/metal craze of the early 80s. Yet while the likes of Motley Crue, Quiet Riot and W.A.S.P. found themselves moving from the clubs to the arenas, this fold would end up foundering in the local scene and wind up with only a six-song EP to their name before losing their most capable member and rebranding themselves as Jaded Lady.

A closer examination of the 1983 extended play release that is We Came To Kill reveals part of why this band had trouble getting label attention. Amid the impressive string of riff-happy bangers that generally range from two and a half to four minutes in length, to speak nothing for the highly charismatic and flamboyant vocal display of vocalist Terry O'Leary and the virtuoso display out of Eddie Van Halen meets Mick Mars shredder Debbie Wolf, the one Achilles Heel that dogs these songs is the lack of a truly compelling chorus hook. It isn't so much that these songs fail to be catchy, they are actually extremely memorable, but when measured against 80s arena staples from the same era such as "Breaking The Chains", "Metal Health" or "Take Me To The Top", none of the refrains on here fit the bill of a megadome sing-along fest with fists raised.

While there may not be a radio-friendly single here that could have warmed the icy hearts of the execs at Elektra Records, and the production of this de facto demo is a bit on the rough side, this is a quality entry from a band that brushed elbows with the likes of Nikki Sixx (who also designed their logo). The heavy, mid-paced grooves of the opener and title anthem are chock full of enough attitude and edge to have fit in nicely on W.A.S.P.'s debut, with the added bonus of O'Leary's highly expressive voice bringing a bit of The Runaways into the equation. The more up tempo drive of "Heart Shaker" goes even further down the metallic road and listens close to something that could have been on Iron Maiden's Killers, with Cathy Amanti's bass work even channeling Steve Harris at times.

As things progress, the character of this album goes through a few interesting changes, yet the constant air of raw, horns in the air fury remains a constant. The shorter speeder "Under Your Spell" has a bit more of a punk affectation and goes through a somewhat jarring tempo shift that feels a bit forced, while the slightly slower yet still swift rockers "Askin' For It" and "Need Your Love" lays on the Runaways tendencies so thick that one could almost hear the backing vocals shout "Cherry Bomb!" and Wolf's solo comes off about as Lita Ford as one could expect. But where this album truly comes together is the heavier, spicier and just flat out crazier rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love", which brilliantly switches out all of the ambient noise during the middle section for a riveting shred display out of the "Heartbreaker" meets "Eruption" playbook, which is then chased by a faithful rendition of Jimmy Page's original bluesy break.

If nothing else, the combination of otherwise brilliant musicianship with a noticeable deficit in the one area where it counts insofar as rock radio is concerned underscores why this quartet never had a gold record, yet later 3/4ths of them would find themselves featured in the infamous The Decline Of Western Civilization 2 documentary alongside the big names of the Sunset Strip. These songs are definitely more than just a historical curiosity, yet most will likely come away from them wishing that they'd been reworked into something more chorus-driven and afforded the same studio treatment that Shout At The Devil and High 'N' Dry enjoyed. We'll never know what could have been, but we can definitely have a really good idea.