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Rather heavy than vicious - 67%

Felix 1666, April 12th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1986, 12" vinyl, Steamhammer

Talon released three albums during the eighties and, to be honest, the band did not have a noticeable effect on the evolution of heavy metal. In a scene that divided its members into thrasher and poser, the guys of Talon did definitely not belong to the first group. But they also did not fulfil the expectations of the other side. I do not think that fans of terrible hair metal "beauties" such as the American Poison or Ratt enjoyed "Vicious Game". Talon played traditional heavy metal, not too fast and not too aggressive. Nevertheless, their music did not lack of a certain currishness. Some of the tunes only achieved an average level while some other pieces were really amazing. As always, it depended largely on the riffs. "Kings or Fools" offered the most fiery riffs of the album. Due to its up-tempo rhythm, this song marked the most metallic track on "Vicious Game". Its degree of heaviness was comparable with that of typical numbers of Grave Digger. (It goes without saying that I am not speaking of Digger´s gruesome ballads...)

But in general, you could not draw parallels between the songs of Talon and those of Chris Boltendahl´s crew. Firstly, Talon possessed a certain pop appeal. Boltendahl and his sidekicks were unable to integrate mainstream elements without creating a sonic pile of rubbish. Secondly, Peter Hader was a very good singer, much better than his relatively limited colleague of Grave Digger. Hader´s voice was powerful and flexible. He knew how to emphasize the keywords of the (fairly ordinary) lyrics. Already the opening title track illustrated his passionate performance. Additionally, "Vicious Game" excelled with its relatively dramatic chorus that made this song to a real earworm.

However, let me come back to the guitar work. The two guitarists of Talon had some relatively sharp riffs up their sleeves. These riffs proved the "correct" attitude of the boys, although they looked a bit strange in the photos of the back cover. Maybe you´d like to lend an ear to "Rough and Ready". After a few drum beats, an exciting and very lively riff opened the song. The guys were able to keep the tension up while delivering an excellent guitar work, a melodic yet heavy instrumental part and a stimulating chorus. Not least in view of the well accentuated use of the double bass at the end, this track belonged to the highlights of the here presented output.

As far as I can tell, the band members were technical competent and did not lack of creativity so that the songwriting reached a solid level. Talon did not bore the listener, because they avoided any redundancies. They preferred to compose comparatively short and fairly simple pieces. Admittedly, tracks like "Head for Victory" or "Push It" spread the stench of fillers and the closing ballad was not really necessary. Nevertheless, the Germans proved their mature musicianship while benefitting from a warm and more or less flawless sound. Of course, you can live a good life without knowing "Vicious Game". But it is no mistake to come into contact with this coherent work.