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What could've been... - 79%

Rael, December 22nd, 2008

Odin has taken a beating from a lot of people over the years--mostly from people who saw the admittedly terrible snippets that were shown on the 'Decline of Western Civilization - Metal Years' movie. And really, their best era, which this EP documents, was lamentably short. Their earlier 7" was trashy trad-metal while later stuff leaned toward cock-rock. 1985's 'Don't Take No For An Answer,' however, offers 4 songs of U.S. metal excellence, and two near-duds.

The EP kicks off with "The Writer," which is like a hybrid of 'Knights'-era TNT, classic Savatage, Armored Saint, and early Motley Crue. Lots of classic metal moves, some grit and speed, a few epic melodies, and the vocals of Randy O, which walk a fine line between menacing snarls, wailing screams, or Vince Neil- on-helium weirdness (as far as I'm concerned, Neil is one of the most useless "talents" to ever hold a microphone, so this is not a flattering comparison). "The Writer"'s intellectual/pacifistic theme is remarkable and interesting, considering the era/style we're talking about. "One Day to Live" and "Solar Eye" have a dark, urgent quality, as well, including some weird melodic choices by underrated guitarist Jeff Duncan (he later joined Armored Saint)--but not as weird as Randy O's melodies. The three aforementioned songs also offer a tight rhythmic chemistry. Pretty much the sort of stuff anyone into classic California bands like Malice and Omen would enjoy.

"Shining Love" is very much a ballad, but it's a smart one--plenty of depth and some fantastic solo work from Duncan. I have nothing against ballads, but most of them end up pretty lame. Like Dokken's "Alone Again" or Iron Maiden's "Wasted Love," this one is convincing, and it proves the band possessed seriously strong songwriting ability for at least a short period of time. Unfortunately the final two tracks--the title track and "Judgement Day"--offer nothing better or even comparable to what comes before. Musically they're not even terrible, although stock/generic riffs fill up the title track, and by "Judgement Day" I'm just weary of Randy O's completely off-key/off-kilter delivery. The speed of the song is great, and the strained riffs brew up some tension, but the vocalist just sucks on this one. If I wanted to listen to crappy off-key metal-sleaze vox, I guess I'd listen to Motley Crue...or Krank.

Four killer songs and two weak but tolerable ones. I'm glad I've kept this one around for so long. Cool cover, too. Embarrassing back cover though (for them, not me). I'll never kick it out of the collection. I need "The Writer" and even "Shining Love," and damn, I do love white vinyl! Too bad they never capitalized on this EP.