Thursday, April 11, 2013

Alloy Czar-Awaken The Metal King

Arkeyn Steel Records

Earlier this week I covered Xcel's "Deliver This Dream" and now, with fellow Arkeyn Steel Records label-mates Alloy Czar also getting the royal treatment, it looks as heavy metal fanatics will be busy emptying their wallets! With "Awaken The Metal King", which collects Alloy Czar's recording output into one neat and tidy package, Arkeyn Steel Records is catering to collectors as much as metal fanatics as these demos have appeared on numerous want lists over the years! What's so special about this Denver, Colorado band then? Part of it is has to do with the fact that Bob Parduba (lead vocals/guitars) went on to briefly front Jag Panzer. He sang on their 1987 album, "Chain Of Command", and, as excellent as he sounded fronting that fellow Colorado act, he sounds even better here! To say he has a unique voice is putting it mildly and I've struggled to put my finger on just the right description of his vocals. The best I came up with, and trust me it sounds better on tape then on paper I do realize, is that he sounds like a really cool heavy metal version of Robert Smith of the Cure! You'll have to trust me though it works, especially when your band plays a very sweet brand of melodic heavy metal that has drawn comparisons to everyone from Jag Panzer to Fifth Angel! Those are two "big" names to live up to, but the band, which also included guitarists Charlie McCormick and Billy Mitchell (who also played keys for the band), bass player Scott Wilson and drummer John Beaird, ends up giving heavy metal fans a serious thrill ride thanks to cuts like the killer "Taking the Lead" (which appeared on a regional sampler called "KPKE Colorado Rocks" back in the day!). For a band that was formed back in the late seventies, and released these demo cuts in the early eighties, the music holds up incredibly well! Credit must be given to the excellent re-master job by Kostas Scandalis as songs like "Black Monday", "Slayer", and "Stalker" sounds almost crystal clear. Speaking of "Stalker", which has an almost classic rock vibe to it, the combination of Uriah Heep keyboards and Judas Priest like guitars has to be heard to be fully appreciated! The promo might recommend this one to fans of Jag Panzer, Queensrÿche, Heir Apparent and Lethal, but a cut like "New Love" could easily appeal to fans of Stryper and Dokken. In a way the guitar work in "New Love" reminded me of Kansas and it's worth noting that whether it's a softer number like that or a heavier track, "Take The Lead" for example (which to me sounds like early Mötley Crüe meets Judas Priest), Bob Parduba handles everything with ease. Now, while the band did have some early regional success, they never made it past the demo stage. One has to wonder why? On the strength of these 8 tracks Alloy Czar were most certainly heads and shoulders above a lot of what passed for hard rock and melodic heavy metal back in the early eighties. Thankfully Arkeyn Steel Records is giving this band the same royal treatment as Xcel got. This limited edition release (1000 Hand-numbered CDs) will come with lyrics, unpublished pictures and a bio of Alloy Czar. I'd certainly recommend, highly in fact, "Awaken The Metal King" to not only fans of  Jag Panzer, Queensrÿche, Heir Apparent and Lethal (per the promo material!), but for those who appreciate Houston, Texas act Mania ( "No Lullabies"), early Mötley Crüe (same gritty edge without the sleaze though and a bit more "metal"!), Lizzy Borden, Fifth Angel, Dokken, Leatherwolf and Nitro ("Lethal + II"). As with Xcel's "Deliver This Dream" I wouldn't twiddle your thumbs either because, while a 1,000 copies might sound like a lot, there are a TON of fans of this cult act who will be snatching this demo collection up!

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