Sunday, June 03, 2012

Forgotten Gems: Cruella-Vengeance Is Mine

U.S. Metal Records

Even by obscure standards this is some pretty obscure Stuff. This US metal band (Portland, Oregon to be exact) should not be confused with Tampa, Florida's Cruella D'ville. These guys were active from late 80's/early 90's and played a raw and unpolished formed of power/speed metal. Now, when I say raw and unpolished please don't be mistaken and think that it means they lacked the talent and skill or, for that matter, were dull like a warn out knife. Rather these guys, who formed in 1986 and had ties to the cult band XNIR (who I hope to cover in a week or so), played unheralded heavy metal in the realm of Ray Gunn. Unlike Ray Gunn though Cruella pulled from a host of different bands. Fairly typical of the eighties there is some Judas Priest love, in much the same way most eighties heavy metal acts longed to be Judas Priest, as well as some Bay Area thrash (Anthrax/Metallica) and Riot. A common theme as well, when I had read up on this band before I hunted out this album, was the epic, almost Manor, approach to the music. Granted these guys would never, ever be confused as true epic heavy metal, but, in a way I understand the sentiment. The opener , "In Time", and second track, "Beyond Belief", offer two different sides of heavy metal and offer a key to the variety found throughout "Vengeance Is Mine". While they are both technically speed metal there is still enough of a difference between the two numbers to make Cruella an interesting band. Granted the production is low key. You can tell this band scraped by just as many other bands did during the late eighties/early nineties. It is what it is and the thing that strikes me most about the album is how hard they obviously tried. That counts for quite a lot in my book. Rick Nolan (who apparently only provided lead vocals on this on sole album) gives his all and at times sounds a bit like Riot/Faith And Fire's Tony Moore. The other guys (Roger D' Carlo-guitars, Rob Conrad-bass and Dave Hval-drums) always play with obvious passion for the genre as they most certainly knew that this was the break/chance they had been waiting for. While "Devil's Gone" and "Fight the Dragon" were (supposedly) originally written for Roger DeCarlo's previous band, XINR the rest of these numbers were written by a band hungry to write epic and unique material. The fact is songs like "Bat Breath", "Traitors" and "Metal Revenge" (which is strangely omitted from the 2-on-1 reissue by Must Have Music/USA Records due to time constraints- per The Metal Archives both albums wouldn't fit on one dis, but why they didn't cut a number from the follow-up album, "Shock the World" when it is an inferior product I don't understand) are catchy and clever. The whole album is just plain fun and a perfect choice for those that loved underground and cult power/speed acts. The Must Have Music/USA Records reissue pops up on Ebay and is on Amazon (both at decent prices) although it is not hard to find this album on the Internet. After this release the band lost their singer and for the follow-up album drummer Dave Hval took over the mic. As I hinted at the results were no so spectacular. Dave just wasn't the singer that Rick was and the clever lyrics or album number one are lost on album number two. Don't even get me started on "Mr. Potato Head" from "Shock the World". Bad is an understatement. "Vengeance Is Mine" though is a recommended release and a great Forgotten Gem.

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Blogger Roger Decarlo said...

Hello There, Read your Cruella review. I would say that it's a great review & you pretty much did a Shaquille o'neal slam dunk! Thanks Roger Decarlo

7:18 PM  

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