Monday, March 10, 2014

Craving Angel-Dark Horse

Minotauro Records

Originally self-released in 1987 and containing four tracks ("Match The Power", "Dark Horse", "Lust For Lust" and "Craving Angel") out of the thirteen that make up this recently-released career-retrospective from Minnesota-based hard & heavy outfit Craving Angel, the initial demo offering from this four-piece collective ended up becoming a bit of a favorite pastime for collectors of U.S. metal. Or at least that is what I would come to find out while I was doing my initial research for the collection "Dark Horse". Prior to hearing back from lead vocalist  Bud Hughes (with an interview to follow, Craving Angel should no longer be such a hidden secrete for many...or at least I hope so!) it was all such a mystery. Just who was Craving Angel exactly and why was it, despite the overall strength (and well-received nature of) of that initial four-track demo, that this U.S. metal act seemed to just vanish in thine air? While the previously mentioned interview will fill in a few more pieces to this puzzle (at least when I get around to posting it later today or sometime tomorrow) here's at least a brief rundown on the who, what, where and why of this White Bear Lake-based band. Formed back in the early part of the eighties by guitarist Scott Nelson, with bass guitarist Joe Zimilich and drummer Phil Coffman rounding out the ranks of Craving Angel, the band, at this junction now fronted by ex-Dungeon member (and all-around cool lead vocalist who sometimes sounds like a grittier Stephen Percy or, as an early review of the band's 1987 demo pointed out, a cross between Ronnie James Dio and Rob Halford!) Bud Hughes, hit the ground running with that 1987 demo. During this time other material was recorded and the band even did a video for the cleverly-named hard rocker (and somewhat Mötley Crüe-like) "Lust for Lust"! A move from Minnesota to L.A. became an essential strategy if this band had any hope at all of making it, but as to why they didn't in the end? Part of it would have to be the whole grunge-onset deal again while the other part, which is just my guess here, would have to be that when it came to Craving Angel they fell into that grey area where they were too heavy to really be considered a glam metal or sleaze metal band and they wee too light to be considered a full-fledged metal outfit. Too be fair to the band though, "Dark Horse" (or rather the material on this collection which was recorded between the mid eighties and mid nineties) is FAR from lightweight fair as the band drew as much from the likes of Dio, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Ozzy (both solo and with Black Sabbath!) as they did bands such as Ratt, Dokken and Mötley Crüe! Style-wise quite a bit of ground is covered on this compilation of course, but tracing this one track-track and recalling when and where each number was done would prove to be a hell of a chore so let's just hit "random" and see where the chips fall shall we? "Rein Again" opens this comp. though so we should try our hand at that one. Imagine a bit of Judas Priest/Iron Maiden eighties metal as interpreted by a young and hungry Dio-obessed four-piece and you would be on the right tack! "Match The Power" then carries a bit of the same energy although there are certainly a few hints here that the band might not have been that unfamiliar with the N.W.O.B.H.M. sound even if they were from a place like White Bear Lake, Minnesota! "Sorrows and Pains" for some reason reminds me of a more straight and narrow Twisted Sister while the ballad "Anybody Home" (as like "Say Your Prayers") comes across as equal parts (solo) Ozzy, Britney Fox, Kix and Faster Pussycat if (and only if!) they were more of a street-living, rough and ready rock outfit! Then there's "Suicide City" from 1992 or so where this act channels Hanoi Rocks and Guns N' Roses as much as they do AC/DC, but in a way more chilled fashion then any of those acts could ever be imagined indulging in! All of which brings us to what I LOVE about this collection. Under one umbrella (which we'll call "hard & heavy" and "L.A.-interested traditional heavy metal" just to keep things with an eye on the prize and all that jazz) the band Craving Angel created a ton of material that ranged from solid ("Green Eyed Lady") to down-right excellent ("Rein Again") and they did without anything really in the way of  serious financial backing! This collection (which should be heard in it's entirety to get the full benefit of everything this act had to offer!) showcases a band that had everything from actual skills to looks that would have been needed to take it to the next level. It's just that they seemed to show up at the wrong point in time. Still, it's better late then never when it comes to highlighting these kinds of (long-thought lost) acts and, as per usual, Minotauro Records does a bang up job when it comes to "Dark Horse". Sure, the album art does bare a slight resemblance to a few other albums I have in my collection (Sleepy Hollow's "Skull 13" coming to mind almost immediately!), but the way in which Minotauro Records has packaged this 13-track release speaks volumes as to the commitment they have to the bands on their roster. I'm going all in friends when it comes to recommending this one for all lovers of (eighties) hard and heavy acts! Especially as hearing is believing and "Dark Horse" has more then enough solid material to appease both fans and collectors alike!!craving-angel/zoom/mainPage/image9mv

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