Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Danger Zone-Line Of Fire

Avenue Of Allies

One day soon I really must do a Forgotten Gems piece on Danger Zone's excellent 1984 EP Victim of Time. Someone please remind me to do that. This album though was the follow-up (there were several demos done in between though) and was recorded back in 1989. Thing is it has it's taken until now for it to see the light of day. These things seem to happen far too often I'm afraid. I had heard that there was some sort of label problems that did the band in and caused this album to be shelved (also the changing tide in the music scene did in the band as well-how many good bands were killed off by the arrival of grunge music I've always wondered?). Whatever the case here is what you need to know. The album has finally been released after years of fanzines, websites and fans of Danger Zone crusading for it and demanding that it get a proper chance. Word of mouth alone for this album reached unheard of heights and it was often mentioned with such passion that it became another Holy Grail for music fans. So what is it with the band Danger Zone (an admittedly cheesy name that brings to mind that movie that shall not be mentioned released a few years later in 1986)? Well, this is top notch/top of the shelf ( meaning it has both a top notch production job and a real professional sound) AOR/melodic hard rock/traditional metal. As it is originally from 1989 it does sound similar to that time period. That being the case and all it still sounds amazing. While looking for more information to write up this review I saw a mention of the band being similar in nature to groups like Bonfire, Europe and the Scorpions. That is a fair enough statement. I'd just like to point out though that while there is a lot of melody at play here Danger Zone are first and foremost are a straight up heavy metal group. It's hard to pin-point their sound and influences though. As with their 1984 EP on Line Of Fire finds Danger Zone in a position where they don't really sound like your normal often copied hard rock bands (ie. AC/DC, Judas Priest, Accept, Motley Crue, Kiss, etc.). Instead they forge their own sound as I mentioned that is somewhere between AOR and heavy handed metal. The group didn't get much attention with the original release of Victim Of Time. It only became a cult release years later (as is the case with many other albums, movies, etc.) It took them many years to really get noticed in fact. In 1988 they toured with Saxon and that was the break finally that they were looking for. They entered the studio with executive producer Stephen Galfas ( who has worked with Savatage, Meatloaf, Stryper, Saxon, The Allman Brothers and even Cher!) and recorded Line Of Fire. First thing I notice on Line Of Fire is the change of vocalists. Massimiliano Merlini was the original vocalist for Danger Zone on the Victim Of Time release. Giacomo "Giga" Gigantelli has taken over on vocals and he has the same commanding vocal style as his predecessor which is a very good thing. The title track opens this album and Giacomo leads the band through would could easily be a eighties style American rock and roll song. With it's catchy chorus and sensational guitar playing this could have very easily been a hit. Track number two is the first of three covers included on the album. On this blistering cover of the 1972 T. Rex's classic "Children Of The Revolution" Danger Zone rock out and craft a song that is heavier than the original. "Walk Away" is a sugary ballad that I felt guilty about enjoying while "Fingers" is a mid-paced rock number featuring backing vocals by Grace Jones of all people. Easily one of the better cuts on the album it again shows that Danger Zone had all the skills needed to succeed back in the day. "State Of The Heart" is up next and is melodic rock at its best. By the time "Hardline" comes on admittedly I am very enamored with this album. Another straight up rocker it fits right in with the hard rock scene that was happening in America in the eighties. With bands like Danger Danger,Ratt, Dokken, Warrant and Poison all the rage Danger Zone was easily capable of not only keeping up with them but beating them at their own game. Someone really screwed up letting them slip through their fingers. I've read that they are back together although that could just be a rumor. Let's hope they are because this is some catchy hard rock on display. Getting back to the album "The Hunger" is up next. Another picture perfect rock number it had me hungry for more. Next up was the second cover song the band choose for the album. This time it's one of "super group" Chequered Past's tunes "Let Me Rock". Again much heavier than the original and dare I say better? "That's Why I Fell In Love With You" is the last cover on Line Of Fire. Originally done by country-rocker Eddie Rabbitt it does seem an odd fit for the album. That said though it plays rather well here and the band works it's magic with the number. The last track is the excellent "Love Dies Hard". With lead guitarist Roberto Priori wailing away this rocker brings to mind everything I love about eighties hard rock/metal. There were times on this disc when Priori reminded me of Eddie Van Halen and other times George Lynch. The guy is that good. Again I have to stress that Danger Zone (despite being from Italy) sound quite American on this release. Sure to please fans of everyone from Night Ranger to Def Leppard to Judas Priest. Don't let the fact that it was originally recorded in 1989 scare you though. As I said it does sound like the time period (how could it not right?) but it still has enough energy to really get you going. I enjoyed this one quite a bit.


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