Friday, June 17, 2011

French Metal Friday-Satan Jokers

Despite the fact that Satan Jokers are still unknown to most American heavy metal fans the fact is that their first two albums are landmark achievements. This semi-obscure 80's French band was formed In 1979 by Renaud Hantman (drums and vocals) and Laurent Bernat (bass). Formed out of the ashes of hard rock group Garters the pair would be joined by vocalist Pierre Guiraud and guitarist Stephane Bonneau (who had played in Stratos previously) and would take their name from two American Motorcycle gangs of the times – the Satan’s Slaves, and the Gypsie Jokers. The group would release a self-titled demo in 1982. The demo would lead to a three album deal with Phonogram Records and in 1983 Satan Jokers would release their debut album Les Fils Du Metal (translation-The Son Of The Metal). Drawing from the sounds of the day (NWOBHM, German Heavy Metal) the album would go on to be regarded as one of the best examples of early French heavy metal and along with 1984's Trop Fou Pour Toi (Too Crazy For You) remain must own albums for those interesting in building a proper heavy metal collection. For whatever reason though the band abandoned their harder edge in favor of something more commercial in nature. By the time the band released the Satan Jokers III EP in 1985 they had gone in search of a pop sound and there was no turning back. Shortly thereafter the group called it a day. Drummer Renaud Hantson started a solo career and did become quite successful pop singer. In 2005 a live album (Best Of Live) by Satan Jokers was released featuring the late Laurent Bernat who had passed away in 2004. Inspired by his friend's passing Renaud Hantson decided to put together a new version of the band as a tribute. Since then the group has released two additional studio albums and are still active. The group's early albums are easy enough to find online and remain popular among heavy metal collectors. While they never would get their proper due (again owing in part to the fact that they sing in French) Satan Jokers were an excellent example of heavy metal's humble beginnings. Especially evident on Les Fils De Metal are the early sounds of power metal. Having taken the hard rock sounds of acts like Trust and Warning as a foundation Satan Jokers would add the speed of Judas Priest and perfect their own style. Hard rock and heavy metal would end up turned on it's ear thanks to acts like Satan Jokers. If you've never heard the group for yourself I'd suggest starting with their debut as it is the most pure in regards to traditional heavy metal.


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