Friday, May 11, 2012

Forgotten Gems:Heavy Artillery Compilation

Auburn Records

Since March of 2012 I've covered three acts with ties to Cleveland's Auburn Records. Two of those bands, Purgatory and Sacred Heat, appear on this compilation while the third, Shok Paris, has a had a on again/off again/on again relationship with Auburn Records. It is not hard to explain what Auburn Records meant to the Ohio heavy metal scene when you look at a compilation like this. This cassette-only release (which incidentally is due for a CD re-release sometime in the next 5-50 years if my sources are correct!) has achieved cult status among heavy metal collectors. While it might not be only Ohio metal that is displayed here (Kraze were from Pennsylvania and Titan Force were from Colorado) all of bands on this compilation were an active part of our scene. Of all the bands that appeared on this compilation (20) I believe only 2 of them, Breaker and Destructor, are currently active. Now, as I previously stated in my Forgotten Gems piece on Purgatory (link below has that article as well as other pieces Metal Mark and I have done on bands with ties to Auburn Records) thanks to this compilation tape I was turned onto not only Purgatory, but also bands like Kraze, Decimation, Terror, Brainicide and Hatrix! I wore out this 20-track compilation tape originally and it is my hope that the guys at Auburn Records won't sleep on a CD version of this killer collection. Even though the liner notes say "Also available on Compact Disc" (I'm holding a brand new copy of the tape in my hands as I type that I got from a friend so I should know!) it was never issued on anything other than cassette tape. There is a ripped version of this compilation floating around in cyberspace so if you don't have a tape player anymore (like 99% of the public I'd wager) you could try that route. Anyway, let's get back to the bands that are showcased here. Man, was I ever happy when this tape was released back in the day. Growing up about 45 mintues from downtown Cleveland I had slowly started to hear about bands like Breaker through fanzines. So, when I saw that this tape was due out I jumped on it. The tape starts of with Cleveland's own Breaker and the cut "Still Life". Known for their love of all things Accept (the name of the band was based on one of Accept's albums for crying out loud!) the band's sound also had elements of bands like Iron Maiden. At the time I had heard very little from Breaker so this song was a real treat for me. Next up is Kraze with "Devil in Disguise". This Pennsylvania based band plays a nice mixture of power metal, speed metal and thrash. I actually just picked up the band's "Devil in Disguise" album which is a collection of their various demos. Auburn Records was two for two in my book when I first hit "play" over 20 years ago! From there you had Chemikill ("Deadline") who sound sort of like a raw Metal Church and then track number four was Decimation ("Silenced In Time") with their fusion of crunchy heavy metal and hardcore. Track five is Real Steel ("I Rule The Radio") and honestly, at the time, their version of traditional heavy metal didn't exactly blow my socks off. As I listen to it now my opinion has changed somewhat. I find it to be fairly interesting straight-ahead heavy metal with some hard rock leanings and more than a hint of the Judas Priest vibe that so many eighties bands were into. Purgatory is up next with "Blood's The Price". This version features an almost entirely different line-up than the one that appeared on "Tied to the Trax". The heavy thrash style remains, but after hearing "Tied to the Trax" I find it lacks the charm that Jeff Hatrix brought to the band. Track number seven is "Twilight's Last Gleaming" by another long lost thrash band by the name of Deus Vult. What it lacks in originality it more than makes up for in it's overall aggression. I always liked the raw appeal of Deus Vult. The melodic metal of "Time After Time" is next by the band Sacred Heart. I won't spend too much time on the band as you can read my review of their re-issue below (in the link). Terror's "Pain And Suffering" is next. The band's sound falls in between thrash and death metal and again, while not that originally, it is a number that rages. Side one closes out with Torment's "Epilogue" and, as others have pointed out, it comes off a thrash metal version of Crimson Glory. Awesome. With thrash metal kings Destructor opening up side two how can you go wrong? "Storm Of Steel" is classic metal. Having seen these guys in living color I can say they sound as good (if not better) live as they do on tape. Attaxe is another band I just love. More nods to the old school on "Pedal To The Metal". Trigger Zone gives us "Trigger Zone" (I know, not that original of a title is it?) and while it isn't great by any stretch of the imagination I can honestly say I've heard worse power metal in my life. Hatrix (with their "Sins Of A Bastard Angel") would morph into Mushroomhead which I always found to be a shame. Their version of thrash was pretty straight-forward and much more aggressive then Mushroomhead would ever prove to be. Speaking of aggressive next up we have Wretch. Sometime soon I really should do some legwork on this band. The band's style of power metal is highly appreciated .Wretch gives us "Life" while Brainacide gives us "Payment In Blood". Here was another band I always wanted to know more about. At the time I was all about crossover and while the track hasn't aged as well as I remember it does feature a rather young Tim Owens and, for novelty sake, that is kind of interesting I suppose. Track number seven on side two is Rebellious Angel's with their melodic power metal track "Stand Up And Fight". Again a decent enough track if nothing to get overly excited about. Severe Warning's "Better Off Dead" is more thrash. On an album that features a lot of similar speed/power metal/thrash bands it does not do a lot to stand out. Titan Force's "Blaze Of Glory" is much better though. This Colorado act featured former Jag Panzer vocalist Harry Conklin. Somewhere in my rather messy music collection I have more Titan Force. This was a great melodic speed metal band. The final track comes from the one and (thankfully) only The Spudmonsters. "I'm Not Guilty" is like most tracks by The Spudmonsters. In other words second rate crossover. For the life of me I never understood the appeal of this band. So, all in all you have more great tracks than bad tracks on "Heavy Artillery". Why it never got a CD release the first time around is a mystery in and of itself. With 20 tracks it is a bit of a long listen so I'm sure it would stretch a CD to the limit. Still though it is a great overview of Ohio's metal scene during the later part of the eighties.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have the original tied to the trax on cd. great album

3:20 PM  
Blogger Andy said...


5:41 AM  

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