Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Northwest Metalfest (1984 Ground Zero Records)

Since my last review sparked some discussion about Northwest Metalfest, I suppose I should review it. Better late than never, right? This was also put together by Jeff Gilbert (the same guy that did the Pacific Metal Project compilation) but it was released on his own short-lived label. After releasing this and Metal Church’s debut LP, Ground Zero Records would change to C.O.M.A. Records who released a few records including some by bands Mace and Strike below.

I don’t think LP this is as good as Pacific Metal Project, but it is still an important part of the NW scene (I tend to lump the Seattle and Portland scenes together, though as someone pointed out before that is not entirely accurate). One thing that has always puzzled me is this: According to the Virgin Encyclopedia of Heavy Rock by Colin Larkin, Sanctuary had 2 tracks on the Northwest Metalfest compilation but they aren’t on my LP. A few websites also state this, including this Polish site which even goes as far as saying that the 2 tracks are "Battle Angel" and "Soldiers of Steel". Could there have been another Northwest Metalfest? Or perhaps these are cassette only bonus tracks? If anyone has any information please let me know!

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All tracks are exclusive except where noted.

1. Lipstick – "Daily Ground": Lipstick’s only release is a heavy Motley Crue inspired song. I like the singer’s eccentric vocals, though he does grunt a bit too much. They would relocate to Hollywood soon after this release and disappear amid the crowd of similar sounding bands.
2. Open Fire – "Cry for the Nations": Very good hard rock like 80s Rainbow, with a little bit stolen from Judas Priest’s version of "Diamonds and Rust". They changed their name to Phoenixx in 1986, but never released anything else under either name. Guitarist Phil See has a site here.
3. Koda Kahn – "Fantasy & Science Fiction": Kind of an interesting track, but not great. No other releases.
4. Overlord – "On the Edge": Exclusive track from the band that recorded the Broken Toys EP, which was released in Canada in 1983. It’s a decent sleaze song even if the singer seems like he’s trying a bit too hard (then again, I guess that keeps it interesting).
5. Rottweiller – "Intense as Hell": Rottweiller’s first release starts with a poppy melodic intro, in contrast to the title. It soon transforms into some NWOBHM inspired proto-thrash (sort of like Metallica’s debut). A different version of the song appeared on their 1985 Screams of the Innocent LP. There is a very interesting interview at Metal Forever.
6. Bondage Boys – "The Loser": Their only release, this song features singer Taime Downe (under the alias Vaun Hammer, real name Gustav Molvic) in a surprisingly metal role. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it good. The following year he would leave the band and travel to L.A. to form Faster Pussycat.
7. Sato – "Leather Warriors": One of my favorites from this album (along with Metal Church). This is a great early power metal song with a bit of a German feel (think Gravestone).
8. Strike – "Deadline": Typical rough US metal that was also on their 1984 self-titled LP, though possibly in a different version.
9. Mace – "Marching Sacrifice": This could have been a decent song but it’s a bit too raw for my taste, coming off as crossover when it really shouldn’t. Confusingly, the song is titled "Marching Saprophytes" on the sleeve, but correctly on the center label. This same song was also on Metal Massacre V, but was misnamed again as "Marching Saphroyites". They would go on to release 2 LPs, the first on C.O.M.A. Records.
10. Metal Church – "Death Wish": Metal Church’s first official release, taken from their 1982 Four Hymns demo. They display a somewhat different sound here than on their first 2 LPs. It’s a great song but, as is often the case with major bands on compilations, this does not really compare to their album material.

Available Formats: Originally released on vinyl and cassette only. Also licensed to Steamhammer and released the following year in Europe, and then in 1989 on CD.

Value: $8-10 (vinyl), $5 (cassette), $20-25 (CD)


AT said...

Great post. It's worth mentioning that Alice in Chains' original bassist, Mike Starr, was in Sato (or is that SATO?). There's also another Seattle metal compilation series that was considerably more, uh, downscale that came out around the same time. I think that series was released on Ever Rat Records. Can't remember the name at this point, though. If I do figure it out I'll let you know.

AT said...

OK, I should have done my research before commenting. It was called Metal Meltdown, and there were three comps released. The first is the best (features D. C. Lacroix, Kil D' Kor, Strychnine, Century, Sashay, Slaughter Haus 5, Hellrazor, Kaliber, Bethlehem Steele and Max Planck). Here's a link to the second:

Keir said...

You're right about that series being inferior, though all of them have at least one really great track. I’m still looking for Volume 1 of that series (love that Max Planck track). I have the other 3 already. Yes, there were 4 (the 4th was a cassette only comp released in 1989).

Anonymous said...

I don't think the CD version of this ever saw the light of day. I've searched for it since 1997 and have never seen one listing of it.

Nice blog, BTW.

Keir said...

Thanks! Yeah, you’re probably right. I’ve never seen it either.

Keir said...

I take that back, I did see it once. It was part of the SPV mid-price CD series.

Metal Jeff said...

Great review. One typo, however. 1st track should be titled Daily Grind, not daily ground.

LL said...

Does anyone know how to get the NW Metalfest recording? I went to the Moore show, had the vinyl (lost it... :( and loved Lipstick Daily Grind, Overlord On The Edge, and of course Sato's Leather Warrior.

Anonymous said...

I used to manage the Bondage Boys and know Jeff Gilbert quite well. I also knew Willie McKay who gave me 3 vhs tapes that had the entire Northwest Metalfest shows from The Moore Theater in Seattle...featuring every band from the album doing 3 or 4 songs live. I lost one of the tapes but still have the other two ( with amazing live footage of early Metal Church). Gonna have to fire up the old vcr tonight!!! Wish I could track down the cd release of this great old album! Most underrated band: Mace.

Mike said...

I loved this record back in the Day, I still have it!!!!!