Thursday, May 26, 2011

S. A. Adams - Unearthed

FnA Records

This one is a little past it's sale by date (in other words this review is a little late in coming) so if that offends you move along. Fact is I got it along with the excellent Eight Lives Gone ( Priscilla ) with a request that I do a write up of it if possible. Why not I figured? With S.A. Adams (The Fury) on vocals/bass/guitars and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Yellow Matter Custard, Hammer of The Gods, Transatlantic, John Petrucci, Inner Sanctum, OSI, John Arch, Liquid Tension Experiment, Liquid Trio Experiment, Neal Morse, Rising Power, Avenged Sevenfold, Cygnus and the Sea Monsters) on drums the album Unearthed began back in the summer of 1985. Long Beach, NY guitar hero S.A. Adams decided to make a life change after attending a Motorhead/Wendy O/S.O.D concert. He left behind a band that played Judas Priest/Iron Maiden style metal and decided instead to form a part punk/part metal act. Drawing from punk bands like GBH & The Stooges the band would round out their sound with harder edge groups like Motorhead, Exciter, Raven, early Megadeth, Venom and Tank. Along for the ride was a young teenage drummer by the name of Mike Portnoy. The project was financed by vocalist/lyricist Bob Muldowney of Kick-Ass Monthly magazine (the mysterious fan who got Metallica's demo into the hands John Zazula of Megaforce Records). The 9 song "DeSade was a Feminist" album generated a huge underground buzz and the story goes that Combat Record's "Bootcamp" series offered the pair a 7 year / 7 album deal. Upon hearing from Muldowney about the deal Adams contacted Portnoy and between December 28, 1985 and January 11, 1986 at Mike Portnoy's Long Beach apartment the pair banged out the tracks that would come to be known later on as these "Unearthed" songs. Upon reading the contract "details" (remember young bands out there the devil is always in the details) Mike Portnoy figured out that Combat would own them for life. Knowing that it was doubtful that Combat would allow him to play (and record with) a band known then known as Majesty he bailed out. As a result Mike would play on Majesty's legendary 1986 demo and the rest is history. Majesty turned into Dream Theatre of course. And as for Adams? Adams went on to play with The Fury before starting a successful solo career. So, obviously things worked out. Now onto the meat of the matter. Those looking for any of the progressive rock that Portnoy does so well should park themselves at the door. His work here is pure garage metal. While it shows just how good he was even at such a young age this is first and foremost furious punk thrash. "Paste The Glass" starts things off with the sound of Motorhead jamming with S.N.F.U. Adams has the perfect voice for these early sessions. With a bit of a snarl he spits out "Kiss Of Death" a song that borrows from Anthrax and the early punk of the Beastie Boys. "Love Dies" is Twisted Sister doing Black Sabbath while "Too Far Gone" is part Tank/Sodom and part punk rock New York style. "Sex" is what Motorhead would sound like if Sid Vicious had his way. Now there should be no doubt this album would have been a goldmine for Combat once crossover became all the rage as this is the sort of album that could be a soundtrack for a lost generation of kids. "War" would have fit right in with both the metal heads out there and punk/skate kids. The thing is does it sound as fresh today though? It plays like it is straight out of the mid-eighties although "2 Steps" and "High Plains Drifter" could pass for 90's grunge if the lights were turned down real low. "1986" (a track not intended for the original album) outdoes George Thorogood while "Chapter Closed" is just punk thrash n' roll. So, some of it does quite well and is worth more than a few listens while other tracks might be too old school for today's music fans. "You Smell Like..." is a novelty track taking 50's boy groups and giving them the S.O.D./M.O.D. treatment. As a bonus cut it is funny if nothing to stop the presses over. The last two cuts are also bonus cuts/demo numbers. "Degeneration" with it's "D..D..Degeneration" chorus is pure Green Day. "The Stage Door" is sloppy garage/street metal and a good closing number I'll admit. Had this "band" worked out a better contract with Combat back in the day then yeah, this would have been a hit within the metal community (or at least made them a must-hear cult band). As you approach it now though it depends on your mindset. Are you the type that still likes to pull out those old S.O.D., C.O.C., D.R.I., Murphy's Law, Crumbsuckers or Gang Green albums now and then and enjoy them like I do? Or do you scoff at the 80s as being dated? If your the former then you'll enjoy this. If not then it might not be your thing. I'm sure Mike Portnoy fan's would enjoy seeing where he started. His drum work on Unearthed is similar to what he was doing with the band Rising Power (who by the way might be a good point of reference for what these two were shooting for on this material). S.A. Adams fans would of course like this since they were the ones who really pushed for this release in the first place. For me I'd say I'll be checking out this release again from time to time as I did enjoy the crossover/DIY style.


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