Thursday, December 05, 2013

October 31-The Fire Awaits You (2014 Re-Release)

Hells Headbangers

With October 31 becoming a part of the Hells Headbanger family (which sure seems like a match made in heaven doesn't it!!!!) fans and collectors alike will soon be treated to deluxe re-reissues of the group's first two albums. Released back in 1997, "The Fire Awaits You" was the first full-length release from October 31 and it officially introduced the band's distinct take on all things heavy and loud  to a scene that (at the time) had no idea what was awaiting them! For the most part the heavy metal community did embrace the band back then and, as far as debut albums go, "The Fire Awaits" shows a band that was good, but had much more to offer in the years that would follow. If nothing else this album, which was recorded at Oblivion Studios in Upper Marlboro, MD in the spring of 1997, showcases the "humble" roots of King Fowley (vocals, drums and keyboards) and company as they created their own brand of horror-themed heavy metal by combining elements of speed metal, traditional heavy metal, N.W.O.B.H.M. and horror punk together! Standing beside King Fowley (also of Deceased) and his commanding vocal delivery are guitarist Brian Williams and bassist Jim Hunter. Collectively they make an imposing terror trio and while this album isn't quite up to par with October 31's excellent sophomore release ("Meet Thy Maker") it's still a fun album to put on in the background for when you find yourself in a "metal mood"! As an added bonus this re-issue comes with the group's 1996 demo, "Voyage to Infinity" (which included a cool cover of  Warlord's "When Darkness Covers The Sun"), and features two additional covers in the form of  "I Don't Know" by Ozzy Osbourne and "Public Enemy Number One" by Iron Maiden. All three covers are interesting as they are not just cookie-cutter copies of the originals. Instead each track offers something different as October 31's unique take on the who traditional heavy metal sound is itself different! My only gripe with these covers is the Iron Maiden choice. Choosing a number from "No Prayer for the Dying" makes little to no sense as King Fowley would have destroyed life itself if he would have tackled something from any of Iron Maiden's first seven albums! Instead October 31 covers a Iron Maiden track from the nineties? What gives? It's a minor complaint I admit (OK, it's a stupid complaint I realize!), but that would have really made this album just shred! All in all though this is a nice re-release from the fine folks over at Hell's Headbangers and, knowing the company and their top-notch work, one would imagine that the package will be as cool as usual. As the two re-issues are not due out until the end of January everyone should be by that point (somewhat) recovered from the usual Christmas overspending so I do suggest snagging and bagging this one! Is it as good as the follow-up full-length? No, not really. But as far as horror-themed heavy metal goes it's hard to go wrong with October 31! The band is really a one of a kind outfit and given the various elements that get added into the mix here it's all rather infectious. Obviously the band's many choices of covers over the years (October 31 has also covered the likes of Saxon, Judas Priest, Overkill, Mötley Crüe and Lizzy Borden in their time together!) provide an indication as far as what awaits the listener when you crack open one of their CDs. Even then imagine listening to a band like October 31 and (also) uncovering the likes of Paul Di'Anno-era Iron Maiden and the Misfits! For October 31 it's all about taking those various influences to a place where originality springs forth from inspiration and in a manor where it can be no one else but this Arlington, Virginia act! So, even if this one is a tad "rough" around the edges it's still a different creature altogether and proof that even if you were a little late to the game (Fowley and his band-mates hit the scene in 1995) you can still be outstandingly original!

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