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German metal rock attack from Hell (cheap title) - 78%

Gutterscream, June 13th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1983, 12" vinyl, Noise Records

“…as the day has gone and the heat has come, headbangers war tonight…”

An early Noise Records novelty (N-003, right behind the licensing of Metal Blade Records’ Be My Slave by Bitch (N-001) and Slayer-tastic Metal Massacre III compilation (N-002)) is this disc of assembled artists that found the first part of its name in Running Wild’s ’81 demo, themselves a gang of rabble-rousers who’d end up the caboose for this thing behind five other equally Germanic bands who were equally well-known (or not), which more or less held the equivalent of something like peoples’ familiarity with the crawlspace under their houses. In other words, this playing field was not only even, but evenly sparse.

I’m sure a few people thought Rock From Hell was a dynamite title. Problem was it wasn’t ’81 anymore. Two more years of this upstart heavy metal style cooking in the sun with this dusty cognomen draped across it didn’t do much except give the 'ol gag reflexes of more experienced metal fans a workout. A lot of this queasiness came from the stagnant Grand Funk Railroad/Foghat/Nugent/Steppenwolf leftover spore that too many naïve, major label-backed, cusp-of-the-decade compilations had a rough time retiring. Think K-Tel Records. Obviously we counted on these new labels like Noise and Metal Blade to ride quickly into the thickening business of heavy metal as it forged an identity for itself, but this hellishly-rockin’ ten-songer blossomed pangs of worry and doubt with its title as well, and I’m still waiting to hear an inner-label story that the German Metal Attack sub-bar which ultimately quasi-underlines the original title was a last minute decision or an actual mistake that went to print. I have strong beliefs such a tale exists, ‘cos I can’t help but shake my head at a one-sided inner sleeve where S.A.D.O. in white tuxes steal half a page for a picture, lyrics, and band roster while the rest luck out with just line-ups. An inner sleeve designer isn’t named and I don’t wonder why.

This sampler’s outer sleeve boasts an unusually small gaggle of monikers owned by groups with little to nothing important going on at this time to impress the planet, and of these monikers only like half seem to show any emblematic inkling of being able to rev above 35 mph (56 km) without shitting some pants.

Okay, here’s where I ask you to excuse my shadow of reality as it rolls its eyes and leans in to remind me that most consumers, myself included, got aural wind of this record after, and sometimes long after, these bands had built at least some half-assed discography. It also wants me to avoid acting like I courageously tackled this thing blind the day it came out.

Sure, sure, Grave Digger, Running Wild, and S.A.D.O. weren’t strangers to me, but we’re still talkin’ only half here, and I still owed goddamn S.A.D.O. a haymaker for when I lost my mind and bought Dirty Fantasies brand new off the goddamn rack as if I thought it had any chance of not dying in my closet with that front cover and would become my second worst new record purchase evah.

“…even Satan wears leather, our souls to it forever, so let us pray our rules tonight…”

Anyway, silly S.A.D.O.’s sole contribution, “Run, Baby, Run”, which I was banking on blowing, kicks off the fun yet actually isn’t too bad and is annoyingly tough to miss with its partial whine for a chorus. Mercifully it gets outta the way early. Grander visions come when dirtier Grave Digger introduce future scarce track “Violence”, which spins sorta decently despite a meanderingly repetitive filler interlude that should’ve easily lost half of its life, meanwhile reintroduced is their ’82 demo cover of The Stones’ “2000 Light Years From Home”, which ambles along speed-lite and alert. Railway could’ve gone either way, but decide to exploit the more industrious aspect of their namesake by leaping onto the last of the a-side’s train tracks where “Break It Up” and especially “Can’t Stand It” unexpectedly reinforce Grave Digger’s dirt-throwing habits with their own additional wheels of finesse that [spoiler alert] we’ll discover is only rivaled by the b-side’s Iron Force.

An early verdict declares the metal attack has clearly overshadowed all rock from Hell; the flip side is deemed safe for further exploration. Could still backfire though, so hang tight in the hope the steely-named n’ framed Iron Force (who has only recently been welcomed into the MA) doesn’t screw it all up. Well, while “Tyger in the City” smiles too wide and uncovers the inherent keyboard-mishappened commercialism in their formula, “The Band is on the Road” conversely unearths continually confident British-wave backbone that enlarges the landing strip for Rated-X, the other shakily-named outfit here. Filmed is “Burning”, their only money shot that wastes little time drooping with the most blahfully-commercial lubricant in earshot (ewww...got Q-tips?), stuff that should be hiding behind the perv section’s stained curtains that people are usually too embarrassed to stick their heads through, plus who needs to slip in fresh semen when party faves Running Wild are, well, runnin’ wild?

The disc’s final nails, “Chains & Leather” and “Adrian” (both share a same year demo), are for me RFH:GMA’s unofficial poster children – battlefield anthem and battlechampion victor – who coulda just as easily lead this charge as easy as they button it up. Now, most bands can’t do anthems (not that most try), and while “C&L” isn’t the most profound one around, it’s meaningful enough to hold the album’s proud chin up as it nears closing, meanwhile “Adrian” (the “S.O.S.” is added with its remastered inclusion on next year’s debut, Gates to Purgatory) is one of yer fabled speed-gainers-of-’83 I often babble on about for hours to defend my several ’84 reasons - the surefire, golden metal attack that, in what seems like a fart’s time, builds Germany into the battle-scarred home to many feared thrash barbarians who could/would have no idea they were the reasons for one dopey, wide-eyed adolescent (me) who lived more than an ocean away to get outta bed.

With this roster at this particular time in the fatherland, everyone was no one and no one was everyone, so pine for the recognition of Scorpions they did, be awed by the perseverance and work ethic of Accept they were, hope for the blessed longevity of Lucifer’s Friend they would, and develop a (grudging) respect for a chosen few obscure comrades who got their crap together early on (Gravestone, Mass) and could actually stroll into a record shop and crack their own records on their friends' heads if they felt the urge.

Now that’s something to get outta bed for, especially if it’s S.A.D.O.’s third lp lying in useless shards. Or useless shards tangled in S.A.D.O. members' bloody hair.

“…I’m a devil, I want to taste your soul…” - the front jacket’s muscular horn-head, the demon lord Harvey Littlebroom.