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The Monday Morning Mix – Hotter Than Fire – 7/20/09


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About Today's Mix:

Today's mix comes from some part of Maryland, and our buddy Paul. Paul and I got to know each other via the same circle of AOR music lovin' cats that also brought ATV's Kurt Torster my way. Paul also spent a number of years as a contributor to the great hard rock/heavy metal 'zine Detritus. Anybody that likes Survivor and especially The Storm, is A-OK in my book, and as a result, Paul and I have been friends for quite a while.

When I first started up The Monday Morning Mix, I forgot that Paul was a huge fan of making mixes. He very quickly reminded me of this, and started sending me track listings of some prospective mixes that we could potentially feature here on the MMM. As one that loves to stir the pot, I said to Paul, "hey, let's go with the indie power metal compilation!"

So here is some frikkin' indie power metal for your nearly-comatose still-sleepy Monday morning self. Pay attention: You just might learn something from this one. Or, you might just end up with a headache!

P.S. - Paul wins some sort of award for the amount of tunes in this week's mix that are out of print and unavailable. I tried to find some sort of purchase link for each one of these tunes/albums (as I do each week,) but for some of them, the best I could do was a link to more information about the band/album.

From Paul:

I'd like to run down a few more, and older, releases that may have missed those who either didn't get into metal in the early to mid '80s, or didn't have the resources to dig more deeply.

Check out the obscure list of titles on the HOTTER THAN FIRE compilation:

Download complete mix (link will be good for one week)

01 Chastain - "Children Of Eden," from RULER OF THE WASTELAND, 1986, Shrapnel
02 Racer X - "Hotter Than Fire," from STREET LETHAL, 1986, Shrapnel
03 Vicious Rumors - "Medusa," from SOLDIERS OF THE NIGHT, 1985, Shrapnel
04 Trauma - "I Kill For Less," from SCRATCH & SCREAM, 1984, Shrapnel
05 Hexx - "Live For The Night," from NO ESCAPE, 1984, Shrapnel
06 Brainfever - "Thunder & Lightning," from CAPTURE THE NIGHT, 1984, Mausoleum
07 Pantera - "Valhalla," from I AM THE NIGHT, 1985, Metal Magic
08 BlackLace - "Mad Dog's Revenge," from GET IT WHILE IT'S HOT, 1985, Mausoleum
09 Ratt - "Never Use Love," from INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY, 1985, Atlantic
10 TT Quick - "Front Burner," from METAL OF HONOR, 1987, Megaforce
11 Blade Runner - "Warriors Of Rock," from WARRIORS OF ROCK, 1986, Ebony
12 Savage - "Berlin," from LOOSE 'N' LETHAL, 1983, Ebony
13 Chateaux - "Eyes Of Stone," from FIRE POWER, 1984, Ebony
14 Metal Church - "(My Favorite) Nightmare," from METAL CHURCH, 1985, Elektra
15 Anthrax - "Medusa," from SPREADING THE DISEASE, 1985, Island
16 Cities - "Fight For Your Life," from ANNIHILATION ABSOLUTE, 1985, Metal Masters
17 Warning - "Fire Fire," from WARNING, 1982, Polydor
18 Pretty Maids - "Battle Of Pride," from RED, HOT & HEAVY, 1985, Epic
19 Leatherwolf - "Spiter," from LEATHERWOLF, 1984, Tropical
20 Blind Fury - "Evil Eyes," from OUT OF REACH, 1985, RoadRunner

1. Chastain: I have to admit to being a little disappointed when Mr. Chastain spun off to Leviathan Records and stopped using Stephen Fontano for recording, mixing and/or production, because in my opinion, sound doesn't get too much better (or at least didn't back then) than what was coming out of Shrapnel Records (if I'm remembering correctly, he still used Fontano for everything but the drums, which were recorded elsewhere for Leviathan). At some point between 1983 and 1984, Mike Varney et al really figured out how to do it right. Chastain's debut, MYSTERY OF ILLUSION, was my very first indie purchase on my own. Up to then, my records had been acquired from my older brothers as gifts and/or my own purchases were limited to Maiden, Ozzy, Priest or Sabbath. Chastain changed all that. This second release is almost as memorable, and had even better production that the debut. (Artwork note: About this time, I guess Shrapnel's cover art contract with Lionel Baker II was up and they began using Guy Aitchison (Guilty & Innocent Productions) almost exclusively for the next several years.)

2. Racer X: Boy howdy! From the first notes of "Frenzy," I knew I was in for a ride when I first listened to this album. Never had heard of Paul Gilbert before this, but by now I knew I could expect virtuoso guitar and great songs from just about anything that came out on the Shrapnel label.

3. Vicious Rumors: As I've already related, these guys just can hardly do wrong, in my opinion. In retrospect, I don't look at this album as the be all/end all that DIGITAL DICTATOR through WORD OF MOUTH represent, but it is not without its merits. It should be noted that vocalist Gary St. Pierre was previously in Marty Friedman's Hawaii, singing in his unique style on ONE NATION UNDERGROUND, which unfortunately suffered from Shrapnel's older, thin production (as an aside, after hearing this album, Marty Friedman was heard asking, "Why didn't he sing like that for me?"). The other important tidbit regarding SOLDIERS OF THE NIGHT is that it's the recorded debut of shredder Vinnie Moore, who went solo after this. I think the label pretty much supplied Geoff Thorpe with Vinnie and Gary for this album, and sometime after its release, Geoff managed to hook up with Carl Albert and Mark McGee, who rounded out a truly classic lineup that produced arguably four of the most important albums in US metal history.

4. Trauma: Can't seem to get off the Shrapnel kick, eh? This is the only album I have that involves any of these musicians, and it's not a total "must-have," but two or three songs on SCRATCH & SCREAM were awesome. Produced by Peter Marrino, who also produced Chastain's debut, sang on both LeMans discs and later in 9.0.

5. Hexx: Dan Watson wrote some beefy riffs for this album. This was another of my earliest acquisitions, and stands up as one of the best of the genre. It is a theory of mine that the unique vocalist, known on the album only as "Manzo," may have taken his own life sometime after this. The second Hexx album features a new singer, a very heartfelt but heavy song entitled, "Suicide," written from the second-person perspective, and a note of "Manzo: RIP" in the credits and thank yous. Unfortunate, but for whatever reason, neither of the follow up albums seemed to possess the magic infused into this one.

(editor's note: When I found some live video of Hexx on Youtube, I had to post it. God bless Youtube.)

6. Brainfever: Never was too fond of the name, nor the cover picture, but I bought this album for cheap because it was produced by one Axel Thubeauville. I'd seen his name associated with other things I found enjoyable, and this album is damn good even if the production is a tad muddled. Catchy and heavy metal from somewhere in Europe. Germany, I think. This and the band's follow-up, FACE TO FACE, have both gotten a reissue on Cult Metal Classics (Sonic Age) Records.

7. Pantera: I'm sure by now that most people who have connected with heavy metal resources on-line are aware that Pantera has a past they had previously hidden from the fans of their grindcore angerfest sound. They used to be a very good, if visually over-the-top, glam-shred band. I prefer this period in their catalogue by a mile! PROJECTS IN THE JUNGLE and I AM THE NIGHT are classic albums. If you can find a bootleg, snag it! For a real treat, check out "Latest Lover" or "Nuthin' On But The Radio" from their debut, METAL MAGIC.

8. BlackLace: I first heard the song, "I Like To Rock," on a compilation cassette, and was immediately on the prowl for a full release. An earlier album, UNLACED, sounds a bit dated, but does have some good tracks on it. GET IT WHILE IT'S HOT, though, has KILLER production, and at least half the songs shred. The guitarist Carlo Fragnito should have been huge, as his tone and technique are something to behold. This is definitely part of the above-mentioned Mausoleum special reissues catalogue, 'cause that's where I got my copy. The liner lists a bunch of other discs, but I haven't had any luck finding them (I haven't killed myself looking, but I have tried a few vendors in Europe).

9. Ratt: OK. Back then I didn't have the diversity OR the numbers that my library enjoys today, so sometimes I had to reach for things that aren't quite so obscure. I've always loved this song, though, and it's cool enough in this slot on the compilation.

10. TT Quick: Another track off their 1987 Megaforce Records album, "Front Burner" is just a major, in your face, heavy as lead, pounder of a tune. These guys rock!

11. BladeRunner: Kind of a later NWOBHM band that remained completely unknown, as the vast majority of bands on Ebony Records have. WARRIORS OF ROCK is their second release, and while the sound is a bit better, the songs are less consistent. Trivia alert: It seems the cover art for BladeRunner's debut, HUNTED, was originally intended to grace the cover of the second album by label mates Savage. If you look closely, you can see where they manually blacked out the Savage logo in favor of BladeRunner's.

12. Savage: One of Metallica's minor influences (I believe Lars, James and the boys used to cover one of their songs), Savage's debut, LOOSE 'N' LETHAL, is pretty much a universal underground classic. Raw and powerful stuff. Uncharacteristically good sound for Ebony, but that's not saying a whole lot. Note to the collectors: From what I can tell, the master source for the Neat Metal Records reissue is vinyl or that other "cellophane" thing they used back in the day, because the commercial CD is pretty f'n noisy. I would almost have rather spent the time digitizing my own album.

13. Chateaux: FIRE POWER should be considered a total underground classic release. Guitarist Tim Broughton has a very raw and aggressive sound and style, and there are some incredibly catchy songs on this album. Major adrenaline rush most of the way through. This particular song, though, is something of a slow-paced, haunting number about a Gorgon. Trivia alert: Then future vocal great Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper/Onslaught/Lionsheart) is featured on Chateaux's debut CHAINED AND DESPERATE, which is otherwise pretty unremarkable.

14. Metal Church: One of the stalwarts. Metal Church's debut album will forever remain among the top five most important early, underground metal releases in my opinion. Along with Metallica's RIDE THE LIGHTNING, Megadeth's PEACE SELLS..., Anthrax's SPREADING THE DISEASE, and perhaps Armored Saint's DELIRIOUS NOMAD, this disc is one of the cornerstones of metal for me.

15. Anthrax: Speaking of Anthrax, I remember a time when they didn't do so much quirky punkish/rappish stuff, and I miss it dearly. "Armed And Dangerous" remains a monumentally influential song in my metal background, but that's on a different compilation of mine. I waited for about a year while this album's release was repeatedly pushed back before I could get my hands on it, and I was not disappointed. Can't say that much for anything they've done since.

16. Cities: This band came out of nowhere with a primal power not unlike that of Accept. A great EP, the tunes were later re-recorded with Twisted Sister drummer A.J. Pero and a couple new ones were added, and it was reissued on Metal Blade Records, though, in my opinion, the mix and atmosphere on the original EP were more powerful, especially the live intro to "Not Alone In The Dark."

17. Warning: A frequently overlooked source for fantastic and unique metal has always been France. Sortilege, Trust, Satan Jokers, Warning and I believe Killer were all awesome bands out of that country back in the '80s. This album was produced by Dieter Dierks (Scorpions) and sounds AMAZINGLY good for its release year. The vocalist can get a bit annoying at times, but "Fire Fire" features a riding drum rhythm that is not utilized enough in current metal trends. It could be employed very successfully to break up the repitition of the high-speed double-kick with slow melodic guitar over it that saturates what we now consider "power metal."

18. Pretty Maids: Another band I hope I don't have to really convince anyone about anymore. These guys have been combining metal and melodic rock very successfully since the beginning, and I too often forget how good RED, HOT & HEAVY really is. If you haven't checked PM out yet, don't wait another second.

19. Leatherwolf: I guess the reissue of this album in the early '90s on Music For Nations was re-titled ENDANGERED SPECIES to alleviate the confusion with their 1987 self-titled release, but I bought the vinyl way back when, so self-titled it remains for me. This band is incredibly tight and actually manages to get Yngwie-like three-guitar harmonies going as singer Mike Olivieri plays a mean axe as well. Their catalogue is legendary in my ears, though they've not gotten the exposure they deserve. I still anxiously await their upcoming new release. "Tools Of Discipline," a new track recorded live on their 1999 album, WIDE OPEN, kicks some major booty and bodes well for the future if they can find a suitable replacement for Mr. Olivieri. (Since this was originally written, Leatherwolf has released WORLD ASYLUM with Wade Black covering for Michael Olivieri, then Mr. O. rejoined the band & they re-recorded the vox to release NEW WORLD ASYLUM. They haven't lost a step, though the line-up isn't quite original anymore..)

20. Blind Fury: Those who are familiar with Skyclad might be surprised to learn exactly how many different bands have shared the guitarist, bassist and maybe the drummer as well. The genealogy of this tree of bands is astounding, and can be traced back to Blitzkrieg in the early '80s. Blind Fury features Steve Ramsey, Russ Tippins, Sean Taylor and Graeme English (Satan/Pariah) along with otherwise unknown vocalist Lou Taylor, whose deep, rich voice lends a completely unique aura to this disc (I'm told Lou had been seen tending and/or managing bar somewhere in Britain in the intervening years). I *still* cannot believe the note he hits and holds for literally 35 seconds or so in the title track of this album. Try it. It's not as easy as it sounds, but in the case of Lou, you can actually hear him "come down" from the note, so I don't believe any studio trickery was perpetrated.

Well... That's it for this week's tutorial. Study hard, as there may or may not be a pop quiz in the near future. Until next time, keep the fire burning."

  • MRNot

    \m/ \m/ Horns f’n up! *heh heh* And, yeah.. Hexx on Youtube?!?! Unbelievable. I haven’t viewed it yet, but gimme a minute.

  • MRNot

    re: Hexx on YouTube.. UGH! Yeah, this is exactly what I didn’t like about their 3rd album. Totally different sound from the debut, and one I just can’t get into. Others, I’m sure, will dig the heck out of it, though.

  • ferris

    Funkin’ A! This, sir, is some hardcore stuff. Hats off and horns up to ya, Mr. Paul.

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    yeah!! Prettty Maids, Leatherwolf, Racer X…all of my favs are there!! and especially cool is that METAL CHURCH also here! stunning mix!