Sunday, December 22, 2013


Arkeyn Steel Records

Move past this album's unassuming and (frankly speaking) uninspiring cover art (and forgive the fact that this band hails from the musical wasteland that is known as Hollywood, California) and you're likely to discover that sometimes, yes sometimes, the best heavy metal can be found in the most unlikely of places. And in this case it can be packaged with such simplicity (as far as this ones presentation is concerned) that, unless you somehow knew the real treat hidden under it's wraps, that you'd be excused for walking past it. Of course you should know where I'm going with this recently-released, limited-edition compilation (1,000 hand-numbered CD copies) from California's August. Arkeyn Steel Records is another one of those record labels that always seems to have their hands on some real gems of the 80's underground metal scene and August, which was formed in 1988 by two former students of Musicians Institute of Hollywood, California (guitarist Mike Moore and bassist Houston Thad Cranford), is no different in that regard. As was the case with the prior 2013 releases from Xcel and Alloy Czar (both of which come highly recommend and have ended up in my private collection) this collection of August material has been painstakingly re-mastered and the result speaks for itself. The nine tracks here are clean and clear and the ever feature of this band, which also featured lead vocalist Tony Russo (R.I.P.) and drummer Andy Shea, sounds damn near perfect! Now, despite hailing from the land of big hair and even bigger egos the heavy metal on display is of the progressive/U.S.power metal variety. If that (somehow) has you thinking about early Queensrÿche then you my friend win the golden prize! Thankfully this four-piece decided early on to push themselves and what resulted was a sound that (besides the early, 1983-1984 or so, Queensrÿche reference point) should appeal to fans of Crimson Glory, Heir Apparent and Lethal! Throw in a little mid-eighties Judas Priest to even it all out and there you have August. And yes kids, it is a beautiful thing. Wait, what is it exactly that is "a beautiful thing" I hear you asking? Well, being able to discover new gems from heavy metal's glory days like August You'll have to excuse me while I wax nostalgic a bit, but those (the eighties/early nineties) really were the days. Other then maybe the early eighties (when I would have been only 9-10 and had not yet discovered what would eventually become one of the great loves of my life) the mid to late eighties was an exciting time to be a heavy metal fan. New bands were cropping up pretty much overnight and it seemed as if every area of the U.S. had it's own set of (hometown pride) heavy metal heroes! When bands like August made the scene you could feel the love and passion these acts had for their music and (even more so) their fans! It was a time when the floodgates came open and, despite never making it past the demo stage for a lot of these young acts, they still gave 100% and the scene was on fire! Of course there are still local bands doing the same thing and playing music for themselves and for their fans. But in a way it's all so different. The Internet has made it so a lot of bands don't need to build up a local and loyal fan base and these kind of well-love demo recordings have been replaced with digital downloads. Between that and the fact that this kind of U.S. power metal doesn't really exist anymore it's a different world entirely. Still, with recordings like this you can relive those moments while also supporting traditional heavy metal/power metal acts who, while quite deserving, just didn't make it to the next level for whatever reason. While I can't comment on the booklet that comes with this one (as it's a "digital download" promo kind of world anymore kids) from the sounds of it this one should be just as sweet as both the  Xcel and Alloy Czar ones were. Along with a bio and unpublished photos the CD will include lyrics so that with each track you can read along while you rock out! That's always a good thing! Obviously this one is recommend for collectors of all things eighties heavy metal as well as fans of Queensrÿche, Crimson Glory, Heir Apparent and Lethal!

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