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And in '82, they were under the gun as well - 88%

Gutterscream, July 9th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1982, 12" vinyl, Secret Records

“…can’t you feel the power, it’s all around and deep down inside…”

Twisted Sister. Great name for a band that would visually portray exactly what they were going for. On stage - a homophobic nightmare…a gaggle of ladyboys…the ‘guys’ anyone’s parents warned you about. On the street - walk away…just walk away, not because you’re afraid they’re gonna hit on ya, but because you’re afraid they’re gonna hit ya. One flip of the jacket tells the enigmatic story, and let’s face it, the music scene back then wasn’t quite as hell-bent on shock n’ savvy as it is today, so you still didn’t know what to make of the whole thing. Blame that goofball Boy George all you want, yet Snider snarling into the photo lens on the front doesn’t exactly inspire any touchy-feely moments in my mind, then or now. On the back you’ve got a nonchalant Pero cracking knuckles and a supra-frizzed Mendoza (an ex-animal of The Dictators) standing his ground (and look at those specs, will ya?). It’s a split-screen montage we had no idea would become the Twisted Sister we know and have come to…dare I say love, or is cherish too girly a word to use here?

The musical terrain on Under the Blade is mostly badlands. Yeah I know, you have to drive through a few neighborhoods of cleanly-mowed lawns where hopeful hit “Bad Boys of Rock n’ Roll”, ill-advertised “Shoot ‘em Down”, and Snoozeville mayor and “Rock n’ Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution/The Jack/Ride On/Night Prowler”-wanna be, “Day of the Rocker”, set up house n’ bore the shit outta their neighbors. A title like “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” may come off kinda gooey, but the ‘Sure Can Hurt You’ is a later bonehead addition that isn’t evident on the original lp (and shoulda stayed that way).

After that, however, it’s as craggy n’ virile as almost anything else released in ’82. ‘Run For Your Life”, third up on the lp, despite its crunchy build-up flashes red with Dion & the Belmonts warning signs - “…and he wonders if she wonders that he wonders about her…” – but those signs find immediate death with the end of the next line, and from there we’re force-fed the Judas Priest handle “Sin After Sin” and its bludgeoningly-alpha male chorus that, y’know, even a badass just can’t fuck with. Still not convinced they’re not out there lookin’ for a hairy-handed date? Okay.

The Kiss-able “Destroyer”, stalking with the menace of a god of thunder of a same-named album six years prior, borne of ‘a grand mistake, a mystical charade’, then streaked with a solo that evolves into a scribble of jagged lightning – for my money (and imagination), some of those laughing doubters in those early ‘Nugent rulz’ crowds who may have admitted these guys weren’t half bad despite tattered rainbow garb would have a hard time dismissing this side two-starting slo-mo sledgehammer. Back this clenched fist with a title track that stares Stay Hungry’s dark bruiser “Burn in Hell” dead in the eye and doesn’t blink, as well as turbulent “Tear it Loose” with its breathless, almost non-stop story arc and you’ve got a trio of tracks that do not beat around heaviness’ bush.

Alas, it’s a shame “Day of the Rocker” ends Under the Blade with the fanfare of something circling the blues drainpipe (even if I do snag a lyrical excerpt to head off this review), however I thank my lucky stars n’ garters my first foray into the Sisterland wasn’t the ’84 Atlantic Records pressing which eye-rollingly precedes “DOTR” with the paltry, sounds-like-a-late-‘50s-Neil Sedaka-cover “I’ll Never Grow Up Now” that hardly anyone gives a crap about even today, and the fact it was written & recorded in ’79 does nuthin’ for my usual musical flexibility.

Yeah, not as long and ape-handled as my usual windbag reviews, but with a flagstone like Under the Blade, it’d be like dragging out the eight zillionth critique of Gone With the Wind. Okay, maybe not GWTW, but certainly The Wizard of Oz…or at least another debut-album-before-they-were-princes like Too Fast For Love.

“…you must open up your eyes before you’re burning deep in hell…”

Under sheer metallic glory. - 91%

hells_unicorn, June 27th, 2012

It’s difficult to refer to the early metal classics that dominated the first couple years of the 80s without also uttering that timeless cliché of “they don’t make them like they used to”. In those good old days, bands earned their keep on the road for several years before hitting the studio and being morphed into a recording studio beast. There is no more obvious epitome of a band paying their dues before getting established as a studio band than that of Twisted Sister, a band that existed in some incarnation or another a good 10 years before “Under The Blade” would mount an American challenge to the exploding NWOBHM scene. The sheer intensity and prowess on display in this remarkable debut cannot be over-emphasized, even by making the lofty comparison that it shares just as much responsibility for helping to push the speed/thrash sound as Judas Priest’s, Satan’s or Motorhead’s seminal releases did, which is an arguable point.

The chief influence at play here is definitely of a Judas Priest persuasion, so much so that even Dee Snider’s normally gritty yell has more of a polished, British edge to it on here. It presents itself more along the lines of a slightly crunchier answer to “British Steel”, but with a guitar sound more conducive to that of “Screaming For Vengeance”. At times the party hearty character that would become this band’s staple shines through on such noteworthy anthems as “Bad Boys (Of Rock N’ Roll)” and “Day Of The Rocker”, as well as the bonus song for the rerelease “I’ll Never Grow Up” (originally released as a single way back in 1979), exuding those repetitive yet highly infectious chorus lines that have been commanding the legions of 80s metallic faithful to sing along en masse. But in stark contrast to later efforts, “Under The Blade” is more along the lines of a cruising speed metal fest along the lines of what Metal Church would come to be known for, albeit with a somewhat more archaic riff and lead guitar approach and a very different lyrical character.

Levels of intensity tend to vary from one chapter to the next, but the overall feel of this album definitely leans a bit more towards the extreme than one would expect from the band’s better known opus “Stay Hungry”. The crushing opener “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” punches through with a vengeance, delivering up a degree of heavy hitting brilliance that could cut heads with the faster parts of Manowar’s “Battle Hymns” any day and delivering yet another unforgettable sing along chorus to boot. “Sin After Sin”, which auspiciously carries the same title as the famed Judas Priest album, also listens a hell of a lot like a compositional homage to the same band, and all but perfectly predicts what would become the better elements of “Defenders Of The Faith”. The title song also offers up a pretty impressive dose of Judas Priest brilliance, though it takes the back seat to “Tear It Loose”, which packs all the same fury and speed as a studio remake of “Exciter” with a grittier voice and a heavier guitar tone.

When comprehending the level of aggression on display here, coupled with its hyper-catchy formula and early entry into the metal world, it’s impossible to regard this as anything other than a true classic along the same lines as “Battle Hymns” and “Screaming For Vengeance”. It stands as the most metallic offering that Twisted Sister ever put out, even when compared to the overshadowing popularity of “Stay Hungry”, itself an aggressive offering with a greater degree of rock sensibilities. Say what one will about the over-the-top image that this band held over from their 70s glam rock days, this is a band that plays hard, long hair and mascara or not. No self-respecting metal head who has interest in the pre-thrash days of the genre should be unaware of this album, but given the addition of one of their early classic songs and a much stronger production, the 1999 re-master is far preferable to the original, though the recent 2011 re-release with the entire “Ruff Cutts” EP and all the other additional material is the most available for purchase. Even when considering the vintage nature of those days, most bands have rightfully acknowledged that the limitations of the technology of those days hampered their efforts to create a more dangerous sound, and when experiencing Twisted Sister, the more dangerous it sounds the better.

Absolutely Essential - 84%

DawnoftheShred, July 20th, 2007

In the first half of the 80's, Twisted Sister were the undisputed kings of heroic pop metal. They rocked harder and faster than their glammier contemporaries and frontman Dee Snider became the poster boy for rebellion as well as a respected heavy metal lyricist. Under the Blade, from 1982, is the album that established them, after a decade lingering around in the club scene, and it still stands as their finest hour, even over the far more popular Stay Hungry.

Musically, this has far more in common with the Judas Priest material of the decade than glam metal. Though the Sister would eventially adopt the trend, most of this album is fucking speed metal. "Under the Blade," easily the most sinister song of '82, is arguably the best TS song ever written, with a sampling of solid riffage and an overabundance of attitude. This attitude is what has carried the band from day one: in the balls-out riffs, the defiant up-tempo, and the ferocious delivery of Dee Snider. Even when the song is a bit slower, such as in "Shoot 'Em Down" and "Bad Boys (Of Rock 'n' Roll)," there's not a hint of weakness in any member of the band. Snider screams, Jay Jay French shreds, and everybody else does a marvellous good job of keeping up. Other classics include "Run for Your Life," with that awesome intro buildup, "Sin After Sin," another wicked speed metal number, and "Destroyer," a crushing metal number that you'd never have seen from the likes of Winger or Cinderella. Admittedly, the chorus of "Bad Boys" is kind of cheesy, but Snider's point is valid and the verses are catchy, so it works out. The rest of the tunes are just as solid, if just a bit less memorable.

Not much more to say about this one except that Dee Snider is one of the best personifications of the ideal 80's metal frontman. This wouldn't be half as killer if he wasn't screaming with all his heart and soul throughout. It's his spirit that keeps this among the best albums out of the entire popular 80's metal discography, even over the band's own later material.

Recommended for fans of the scene, most of whom probably own this already.

Sounds shit, material good - 85%

MetalReaper, August 30th, 2004

In december 1972, the guitarist Jay Jay French formed this band. Legend says that French played in band called Rainbow (no relation to Ritchie Blackmore's) with the gentlemen called Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. The band had various line-up changes, before it was stabilized. Twisted Sister was a big name in the New York club scene, but no major labels were intrested. After recording couple of singles for their own Twisted Sister Records, the underground label Secret finally signed this band. The band flew to England and this is the result.

Dee Snider became the main songwriter after his joining to the band in 1976. Most of the tracks are written in the long club period between 1976-1982. The album was produced by UFO bassist Pete Way. The production is the albums weakest link, partly because this was the Way's first production. Thought the album sounds terrible, Snider's songwriting saves this album.

The band doesn't sound as good as it were on future albums. Guitarist are good, but some riffs are too dull and Snider's voice isn't so powerful as it was meant to be. The band is often regarded as a glam band by it's funny make-up, but it's more heavier and fucking all the times isn't the major point, which many prettyboy glammers were into.

"What you don't know (sure can hurt you)" doesn't start very promising. But the chorus is good and saves the song. Actually choruses are the Sister's most accomplished part. Snider has that nasty habit of screaming already. "Bad boys (of rock 'n' roll)" is more happier with good riff (or solo?) backing awesome vocals. The song is originally released as a TSR single back in 1980, but is now re-recorded. It's a essential party-metal track. "Run for your" life is slower and Snider actually sings instead of screaming in the beginning of it. Then it appears to be not only slower, but also heavier and ball-crushing. "Sin after sin" is one of the best songs of the album in my personal opinion. It has an ass-kicking lead guitar riff and nasty vocals. Listen to it by yourself if you don't believe me! "Shoot 'em down" is a basic TS track with nasty vocals. Guitar solo is also good.

"Destroyer" is undoubtedly one of the best TS tracks ever. It's more slower and heavier. Needless to say, it's crusher like a tank. "Under the blade", the title song is also a definitive TS classic. Intro riff is actually pretty insignificant, but the main riff is one of the best riffs I have ever heard. Snider screams the song to end. "Tear it loose" is a fastest song of the album, what makes it really enjoyable little song. "Day of the rocker" is the final song of the album. It's slow, and even more sad than other tracks. It may be the most sad, but it isn't too sad.

I was positively surprised that there were no ballads on the album, because most of the albums seem to have at least one. It's actually no wonder why the album was a underground hit and big label bosses got interested. Despite it's poor sound quality, the album is still great, thanks to it's songwriting. Thank you!

Under the Fucking Blade!!!! - 84%

PowerMetalGuardian, May 13th, 2003

Under the Blade is noted by most critics as Twisted Sister's second greatest accomplishment. And that's it! There is not much talk about this album, and I don't know why? A lot of people think Twisted Sister is glam metal, and in ways they are. However, Under the Blade is anything but 80's glam metal. And if you still think this album is glam then you need to listen to songs like Destroyer, Sin After Sin, and Under the Blade!

Here is just some lyrics from Under the Blade:
"You've got to realize it is he who tolls the bell
You must open up your eyes before you're burning deep in hell!"
Sounds pretty metal to me!

You also have to put in account the year this album came out, which was 1982. I'll stress once again the difference between Twisted Sister and glam metal bands. The glam rockers wanted pussy, Twisted Sister wanted to take over the world!

Musically this album kicks ass, not as good as Stay Hungry, but very fucking close. It starts off kind of rockish with songs like What You Don't Know and Bad Boys (which sounds a lot like We're Not Gonna Take It). These songs have cool riffs and nice solo's, they just tend to lean towards the rockish side of Twisted Sister. However, this ends with the opening riff to Run For Your Life, which is pretty heavy for 1982. Sin After Sin continues this awsome rage of destruction and heavy metal. The rest of the album is pretty solid and heavy; good songs being Destroyer, Shoot Em Down and Under the Blade. I must also mention how this album sounds a lot like Judas Priest, that is in the soloing. The solo's remind me a lot of the early Judas Priest days, Stained Class, Sin After Sin, etc. Vocals kick ass, as they usually do, Snider has that style that says get the fuck out of the way or your gonna get killed. Nice heavy, deep sound, with occasional 80's Ow's and Ohh's.

A very decent and worthy Twisted Sister's album. If you like Stay Hungry, love 80's metal, or just want to give it a try, then I highly recommend this one! It is very heavy, given Twisted Sister's 80's status!

Pretty fucking good 80s metal - 79%

UltraBoris, November 23rd, 2002

This is a very solid offering from Twisted Sister... by this time they had been together as a band for 10 years, and performing in pretty big clubs for about 4 at least, so while this is a debut album, it is not nearly as rough or primitive as that of many other bands. And, furthermore, it's pretty fucking heavy - people seem to lump them in with a lot of other 80s bands, but for 1982, this is pretty ahead of its time. It's got a LOT of moments that are speed metal, and a few that are even thrash!! There's the occasional rockish moment, but they work pretty well... if you like Judas Priest or WASP, you will like this. It's not a 100% consistent album, but when it rocks, it totally fucking rocks harder than just about anything else from this time.

We start with "What You Don't Know" (Sure can hurt you!), a pretty nice 80s rocking number, with some solid catchy riffing, and a great solo. "Bad Boys of Rock and Roll" is next, which is a more rockish number, but having a great solo nonetheless.

"Run for Your Life" - awesome. This starts off slowly, and sounds like a little ballad or something... but then it explodes out of fucking nowhere... "and she wonders, and if he wonders, about her. Well darling, you'd better..."

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!! Riff riff riff!!! Total fucking speed metal mayhem coming out of nowhere. The riffs are solid, and make you want to headbang, and there's none better than that. Pure solid METAL.

Then, a slightly faster song ... you're committing SINAFTERSIN! Man, if the Priest album of that name had been this good. Oh one can only hope. Great solo, great melodic riffs. There's nothing really complicated here, but it all works - very reminiscent of a certain other band that Are Sexual Perverts.

"Shoot them Down", a bit more midpaced but with a solid headbanging riff set. Also, the solo is very well executed. Then, "Destroyer" plods along, mowing down everything in its path... it's the song that doesn't go fast, but makes up for it by bludgeoning you repeatedly.

Then... "Under the Blade"! UNDER THE BLADE!!!! Quite possibly the best Twisted Sister ever (it and Burn in Hell are fighting it out as we speak) - you're trying to make it to the front, and you're pinned against the side.....then some riffs that are best described as thrash. Both Overkill and Heathen nipped that main break riff! And the song was supposedly written in 1978!

Then, "I'll Never Grow Up Now (Now)" is a lighter number - okay, most everything is, compared to the previous song. A bit rockish, nonetheless fun, and then another face-bending solo. The solos aren't overly technical, they just work really well in the melodic sense. Then, "Day of the Rocker" closes it off - the verses are kinda lame, but a decent chorus. Still, the weakest song on the album.

So, overall - we have a few heavy fucking metal staples to be found here. This is definitely an essential album, for at the time these guys were just about the heaviest thing around. I dare you to find another Destroyer or Under the Blade from this far back!