Forgotten Gems: Stranger-The Bell
If you think about what was going on in 1985 in regards to heavy metal it is no wonder that Stranger's "The Bell" slipped by without much notice. You had albums like Trouble's "The Skull" released as well as albums like Stryper's "Soldiers Under Command", Whiplash's "Power and Pain", Ratt's "Invasion of Your Privacy", Possessed "Seven Churches", Megadeth's "Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!" and Dokken's "Under Lock And Key" (just to name a few) and bands like Guns N' Roses were making steam. How was a young German band that sang about witches, evil, dirty women and angels supposed to make a serious go at it? Serious eighties metal fans would have embraced this one with open arms. Somewhere between Helloween (the standard as far as describing most German speed/power Metal of the time) and early NWOBHM these five lads found their sound and man if they didn't run with it. Tracks like "Hazel the Witch", "Broken Harmonies", "Midnight Angel" and "Bright Fog" all beg to be heard over the noise of legions of similar heavy metal songs that made rock radio all the rage back then. So, why didn't they make more of a splash? Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it took five years for the band to offer a follow-up. And when they did? Well, released in 1990 the album "Pretty Angels" saw Stranger with a completely different line-up. With only guitarist Rikki "Wolfgang" Rieger returning the sound was turned upside down. While "The Bell" could be called a step-cousin to Helloween's "Wall of Jericho" the follow-up sounds nothing like heavy metal. If you didn't know that it was the band Stranger you could be mistaken for thinking this one was some lost hard rock release complete with horns! Yes, horns! Skip it at all cost as "The Bell" has been reissued by Karthago Records (remastered as well!) in 2005 with bonus demo material. If that doesn't suite your needs it's also easy enough to find on share sites.