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A monkey's farewell - 65%

Felix 1666, December 25th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1990, CD, Steamhammer

The third disc of Risk was the last one with the more or less funny creatures on the cover. After the disappointing "Hell's Animals", the band was summoned to make up ground again. Thus it was not helpful that the album revealed a serious flaw right at the beginning. I am not talking about the senseless introduction, but the pretty powerless, dull and somehow hollow sound. Instead of cooperating with a full-time sound engineer, Heinz Mikus himself was responsible for the mix and this was anything else but a good idea. Compared with some vigorous productions of today, "Dirty Surfaces" sounds antique and outmoded. Let's close this sad chapter quickly.

The songs themselves do not possess the fresh liveliness that ennobled the debut. Furthermore, the material of "Dirty Surfaces" is weaker than that of "The Daily Horror News...", not only because of the fact that Risk have slowed down the tempo. Tracks like "Paralysed" or "Like a Rollercoaster" leave me slightly irritated, because they are just there without emanating any aroma. They just don't even stink. "Legend of the Kings" also cannot convince. Its melodic chorus line makes my blood freeze, because it builds a bridge to the shitty teenager metal that the happy guys of Helloween love so much (Dr. Stein is still the greatest charlatan the world has ever seen.) Anyway, "Dirty Surfaces" also holds very strong tracks.

"Letter from Beyond", for example, is a well designed number. Its hopeless lyrics show a much more serious side of the band than the cover implies. (The same applies for "Warchild", "Bury My Heart" and the musically uninspired downer "Blood Is Red" - the lyrics of these pieces are carefully thought through as well and add value to the album.) Moreover, the title shines with its slightly weird lines, its steadily growing intensity and the impulsive chorus. The elegy is neither fast-paced nor extremely heavy, but its profound atmosphere draws the listener into the song. "Dirty Surfaces", the title track, points into another direction. A heavily stomping mid-tempo crusher with a brilliant chorus. Since 1990, I am not able to get it out of my mind and there can be no doubt that Udo Dirkschneider would be very happy if he had written this prime example of metallic catchiness. Slightly strange is the fact that the title track does not appear on the regular album version. It was only one of two CD bonus tracks (the other one is called "Iron Wheels", a pounding up-tempo number with a solid chorus). Regardless of this incomprehensible arrangement, the band was more energetic than on "Hell's Animals". Already the straight and direct quasi-opener "Pyromaniac Man", an ordinary yet decent speed song, has more power than broad parts of the predecessor of "Dirty Surfaces".

1990, we all know it very well, marked the end of the first thrash metal epoch and the here reviewed album pays tribute to this fact. Risk operate at the interface of traditional metal, power metal, speed and thrash. The album does not suffer from disorientation, but it belongs to these works that are in danger to find themselves between a rock and a hard place. My ambivalent rating reflects this relatively difficult situation. In hindsight, "Dirty Surfaces" marked the beginning of the formation's second period with significantly slower songs. The funny animals got lost in the ocean. Albeit Risk's next work presented "The Reborn", the monkey, the crocodile and the other dudes never reappeared.