Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Technical Difficulties

If you missed Metal Lessons Radio last week, the compilation show will be replaying this week, starting tonight. Hopefully the chat room will actually be working tomorrow night and you can join me there.

I will also have a new review for you tomorrow. I was actually about to post it but I realized I need to scan something so it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Break Out: German Metal Tracks No. 2 (1986 D&S Recording)

It's time to follow up German Metal Tracks No. 1 with a review of the sequel. The German Metal Tracks series can be hard to follow, since some marketing genius at D&S decided to use the same title and only put No. 2 on the back cover. They did this with later volumes too. Here is the sequence as I know it:

Break Out: German Metal Tracks No. 1 (1985, WK 30.616)
Break Out: German Metal Tracks No. 2 (1986, WK 30.671)
Metal Hour: German Metal Tracks No. 3 (1986, WK 30.698)
Metal Hour: German Metal Tracks No. 4 (1986, WK 30.746)
Metal Hour: German Metal Tracks No. 5 (1987, ?)
German Metal Fighters No. 1 (1987, DS 003)
German Metal Fighters No. 2 (1988, DS 005)
Best of German Metal Newcomer (1990, DS-017, promo only)

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German Metal Tracks No. 2 also came with a Ravage sticker:

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1. Advice – "No Way Out": Fairly typical German metal with very gruff vocals, sort of like a more melodic Tyrant. A good opener.
2. Arkham – "Die Young": These guys were obviously big Accept fans. This song is not bad, it's just not memorable.
3. Necronomicon – "Possessed by Evil": Necronomicon are often referred to as a Destruction clone. They certainly do sound a lot like them, but on this song I find they more closely resemble early Sodom. I can't help but think of "Obsessed by Cruelty" when I hear the chorus. I'm sure the satanic thrash/proto-black metal fans go nuts over this stuff. To me it's only mildly interesting.
4. Ravage – "Coming Alive": Great raw power metal, similar to the old Gama bands like Gravestone or early Stormwitch. This was rerecorded in 2000 for their self-titled CD. Ravage would also release an EP in 1989 called Swords and Heroes on which they sound a lot like Not Fragile.
5. Stained Class – "Recovery": Stained Class plays in a similar style as Ravage or even Dark Avenger from Noise Records' Death Metal compilation.
6. Stained Class – "Back for More": Another excellent track. Unfortunately, there were no other releases by this band.
7. Ravage – "Ravage": More raw German power metal. I get the impression that Ravage wanted their theme song to be something of a sampler of what the band is about. It starts of slow with more of a traditional sound before speeding up. Then, after a melodic, Helloween like part in the middle, you hear the only instance of keyboards in either of their tracks on this album. It finishes with a brief solo from each member making for a pretty interesting song overall. This one is entirely exclusive to this album.
8. Necronomicon – "Blind Destruction": This track sounds more like Destruction, especially with the Schmier like vocals. Both this and "Possessed by Evil" also appear in different versions on their debut self-titled LP which was released the same year.
9. Arkham – "Metal Or Chains": The fist-pounding chorus makes this quite an improvement over "Die Young". Like Stained Class, their contributions to this compilation were to be their only legacy.
10. Advice – "Children of the Dark": Another good song, but it sounds a little too close to their other track on this album. This one was also appeared on their only other release, the Persuer EP, which oddly enough was not released until 1992. I believe that they are different versions.

A bit more predictable than the first Break Out compilation, but still recommended. A great sampler of underground German metal.

Available Formats: Vinyl only.

Value: $20-30

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Metal Lessons Radio

Sorry I don't have a new review for you, though I will have a couple soon. However, I do have some exciting news. Metal Lessons Radio is doing a show on compilation albums this week. I will be on in the second half of the show talking about and playing some of my favorite obscure compilation tracks (11 songs total). The show will air at the following times:

The CMS Radio Network:

*If you can, join us in the chat room at on Thursday night. I will be there with the DJs and other listeners to discuss the songs and related topics.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Break Out: German Metal Tracks No. 1 (1985 D&S Recording)

Getting back to the theme of label debuts, here is the first offering from a very obscure German label. This LP started a whole series of compilations which I will address later. Overall, the bands on this one sound like a combination of NWOBHM with early German speed/power. Every song is exclusive, though the two Not Fragile tracks were rerecorded in 1989 for their One Way to Glory LP which was not released until 1992 in Japan (as Hard to Be Alive) and 1993 in Europe (as Lost in a Dream).

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1. Not Fragile – "Too Fast": Not Fragile is the only band on this compilation who would actually go on to be somewhat known. This was their very first release, from before they decided to really sound like Helloween (though there are similarities). The sound is very raw, like most of this album.
2. Satan’s Pharynx – "Necropolis": This sounds like early Satan (when they had Trev Robinson on vocals) running on one less cylinder. Very good, but the singer has trouble with those high notes.
3. Glacial Sun – "Big Feelings": A big let down after the first two tracks, this one sounds like a bad Dragster song being sung with a heavy German accent.
4. Chiolution – "Jaws of Death": Here’s an interesting one. Early Running Wild style metal with some of the most un-metal vocals I've ever heard (in a metal band). The singer almost sounds like Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambria. It’s crazy, but I like it.
5. Breathless – "Duell of Wizzards": Whenever you see a gross misspelling like this, you know it's either a glam band or some really amateur metal. In this case it's the latter. This song is a good example of the kind of NWOBHM-meets-German metal I was talking about. It also has a 70s epic feel, and is one of my favorites from this album.
6. Vengeance – "Hellfire": Typical German metal, sort of like Gravestone with softer vocals. Not the same Vengeance that appeared on the MIR Heavy Metal Sampler LP. This band never released any songs besides the two on this compilation.
7. Vengeance – "Metal in Your Veins": More of the same. Really nothing special.
8. Breathless – "Back from the Attack": A step down from their last song, being more of a generic Accept styled track. Breathless would appear again on the third compilation in this series before changing their name to Glory Anthem.
9. Chiolution – "Moving Circle": Another great song, this time with more of an epic feel. The vocals also make a bit more sense now with some Kreator like screams mixed in. Unfortunately, the song ends abruptly leaving it feeling unfinished.
10. Glacial Sun – "Burning Love": Glacial Sun's second offering is still bad, but this time it has a bit of charm. Parts of it actually remind me a lot of early Witchfynde, especially the harmonies.
11. Satan’s Pharynx – "Rock 'n' Roll": Is this the same band? Unlike their other song, this is basic hard rock. However, they do manage to make it sound heavy (almost as though it were a cover).
12. Not Fragile – "Hard to Be Alive": After the last song, Not Fragile's second offering is a bit shocking, sounding like something straight off of Walls of Jericho (though Torsten Buczko's vocals are still rough and uncontrolled and don't really sound like Kai Hansen's yet). Great song but, as with "Too Fast", quite inferior to the rerecorded version.

Break Out is highly recommended and thankfully not too expensive yet, but still very hard to find. If you prefer the highly polished German power metal of today then it's probably not worth the effort, but if, like me, you find magic in hearing young musicians who haven't mastered their instruments but have a vision and a passion for metal then seek this out. Note that there was another German compilation called Break Out that was released in 1988 on Rockport, and has no relation to this album.

Available Formats: Vinyl only.

Value: $15-25