Monday, December 10, 2012

Top Of The Heap Double Dose

It's been some time since we did a Top Of The Heap so, since Metal Mark is incredibly busy these days, to make up for the long stretch between articles I've decided to do a Top Of The Heap "Double Dose" article! So, with that said, I have also decided to cover two different styles of metal to make it a little more interesting. We have an American hard rock/heavy metal act (Ratt) and German thrash (Destruction). I have choose my favorite albums by each group and why I think they are the best. Of course these are just my opinions and I'd love to hear what other people think.

Destruction-"Release from Agony" was the third full-length album by this thrash metal band. It was also the first album I ever heard from Destruction. Maybe it was because of that fact that the album has always been a favorite of mind. I first came across Destruction's tape in a small store a town or two over from us. It was a rather unique store (meaning it didn't last long sadly) that sold heavy metal/thrash metal tapes, concert shirts, magazines and rented videos. If memory serves me correct it also had merchandise for the skating crowd. How I loved this cool little store. I first found out about Destruction and the Cro-Mags from it. I remember that I bought this tape and really wanted to take home the shirt that went with this album. Somehow I knew there was no way my parents would go for a shirt like that so I just bought the tape. This full-length album, released in 1988, was the first Destruction release to feature four members. When I first heard Marcel 'Schmier' Schirmer on album opener "Beyond Eternity" I was hooked. Of the big German three Destruction were always my favorite. "Release from Agony" is probably my favorite song ever by the band, but I also dig "Unconscious Ruins". The whole album spoke to the inner rage, frustration, confusion and depression I felt as a teenager. While I ended up with plenty of other Destruction album's, both on tape and LP, this album ended up being the one I always came back to because it just hit all the right notes.

Ratt-We go from heavy German thrash to one of the top hard rock/heavy metal bands of the early eighties. Sure, technically the self-titled "Ratt" EP was the band's first release, but this album, released in 1984, was again the first Ratt album I ever heard/bought and the album that made Ratt huge. Start to finish, top to bottom, there is not one bad track on this album. "Wanted Man" and "Round and Round" are classics. I remember hearing these two numbers over and over again at Geauga Lake Amusement Park in Aurora, Ohio. As a teenager spending my summer's at the local amusement park meant everything. These guys were the soundtrack to many teenage adventures. Whether you call it hard rock, hair metal or regular heavy metal this album has hooks that kill. With it's sweet licks, pounding beats and lyrics that were almost entirely about woman (Man, it certainly wasn't deep subject matter, but it worked for them!) Ratt was the "it" band for me for sometime back in my youth. It is amazing (And sad now that we see him a shell of his former self) how well Stephen Pearcy took control of the mic. While he oozed sexual charm for the ladies it was his take-charge, be anything you want to be attitude that hit home with young guys. Leading Ratt as he did he was able to get your blood pumping and make you want to throw all your inhibitions out the widow. This album made me a Ratt fan and I'll tell you what, I wore out more copies of this on tape (as well as the follow-up!) then I can count! Even though it might have lost a little of it's charm with age (Those one time cool lyrics now seem rather one-dimensional to me as a 39 year old), it is still a great hard rock/heavy metal album. Killer cuts like "You're In Trouble", "Lack of Communication" and "Back for More" are what make bands like Ratt so appealing in the first place because they stayed in your head long after the songs ended. Most bands would kill to have an album like this. It's kind of funny, but even though they were considered part of that same scene that brought us bands like Mötley Crüe and Poison I always felt like their influences ran a little deeper than most. For example take the track "The Morning After". It is one of those numbers where you can hear the subtle influence bands like Judas Priest had on their sound. This is especially evident in the dual leads. Even cuts like "I'm Insane" and "Scene of the Crime" are classic heavy metal at their core. These numbers might have disguised as west coast sleaze, but they had a very distinctive heavy metal style about them. While their follow-up is another album I really like I do admit that they became more interested in hair metal as they went along. It didn't stop me from enjoying their other albums, but in many ways I wish they would have kept going with the sound and style of "Out Of The Cellar". It's just a great album from a great band.

What is your favorite album by Ratt and/or Destruction?

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Blogger Michael said...

My favorite Destruction album is: Eternal Devastation. Man, the opening and closing songs ('Curse the Gods' and 'Confused Mind', respectively) were so... so... METAL!
Top notch musicianship, as well.

Top Ratt album: Out of the Cellar.
Simply one of the best HR/HM albums of the mid 80's, regardless of what camp you aligned yourself with. Just damn good songwriting.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

"Eternal Damnation" is indeed a killer release!

1:33 PM  

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