Forgotten Gems: J.J. Merciless' Wicked Witch - Olde Smoke
True believers of traditional heavy metal/hard rock take heed for today I give you J.J. Merciless' Wicked Witch. I've heard the crying in the night. I too have felt the longing of those in need of true metal. Indeed it is a just cause searching out recordings that have been lost to the ages. And to find a band...an artist really that reminds you of the days when hard rock and metal danced today in the fire of madness makes it all the more worthwhile. I can't take credit for discovering this lost treasure. All I can do is pass along the knowledge that this recording (along with several more long lost classics) will be seeing the light of day again thanks to some dedicated fans. I will keep you all in the loop for when that happens and let you know that old school metal always has some tricks up it's sleeves. For those interested in the full story of how the group came about I will point you too their FaceBook page. It's the music that matters and Olde Smoke speaks volumes in that regard. Olde Smoke starts off with "Black Forest" (a bass instrumental courtesy of J.J. Merciless himself) before kicking into "Crystal Ball". "Crystal Ball" features lead vocals from Scott Oliva (Inner Strength) and just has this great early metal vibe going for it. It's one of the more intense moments on the album and brings to mind the heyday of hard rock/metal when Ozzy/Judas Priest/Dio and the like ruled the airwaves. Even the production gives it a that sound and feel of vinyl (even though this was a cassette tape only release at the time). Merciless proves to be a monster on the bass and is truly underrated. How some big name group didn't pick this guy up I'll never know. From this point on lead vocals are tackled by Colleen Ann Darrell and she pulls off a smokey and sultry performance. While hard rock numbers like "Eazy Love" and "Fading Love" ooze with wickedness I just loved the blues of "Too Hot To Hold". That song along with the heavy metal rocker "Lady Diamond" show off Colleen's vocals as she takes center stage along with Merciless and the band. Where the band really blows you away though is on the eleven minute epic "The Wicked Witch (in 5 parts)".Guitarist Cort Christian shines throughout as this song mounts one unbelievable attack after another. Breathtaking metal. True metal. As I said this recording (along with later work) is being re-issued in new packaging which will give those who missed out the first time (like yours truly) the chance to experience old school hard rock/metal that breaths "classic". Find out more at the FaceBook page below.