Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lewd Preacher-The Raw Age

Karthago Records

Just one of two recently-released CDs plucked from the expansive catalog of Karthago Records, with the other one being Adrian's lone/cult 1987 LP, "One Step Into The Unknown" (review coming shortly on that one as well), "The Raw Age" is a compilation CD from Marburg, Hesse-based Lewd Preacher. Released as part of the label's Heavy Metal Demo Classics, "The Raw Age" is a collection of Lewd Preacher's two late-nineteen ninety something demos combined in an Exclusive CD Edition that is numbered (limited to only 500 copies), coming with a certificate of authenticity. My copy is number 96 of 500 which means that there are still plenty of copies of "The Raw Age" yet to be acquired by fans and collectors alike. That observation comes across as both surprising (once you've heard this heavy metal/speed metal band for yourself you'll understand why) and encouraging (for those who read this review and hopefully are inspired to pick up this gem!) depending upon whether you've had a chance to hear this cult German metal act for yourself or not! Bio-wise it all might sound like a familiar story when it comes to this short-lived cult collective with the (likely) eyebrow raising name. It's 1985 and teenagers from two separate though equal (as in they both played hard rock) Marburg school bands (Cassiopeia featuring vocalist Tammo Holzhausen & guitarist Christoph Kirsch Stein and Confuse Productions featuring bass guitarist Frank Becker, keyboardist Wolfgang Cloos and drummer Marc Laukel) join forces and (inspired by the N.W.O.B.H.M. and U.S. metal movements and the evolving German and American speed and thrash metal scene) decide that it's about time that they two go forth and spread a little heavy metal mayhem of their own. In doing so Lewd Preacher gave heavy metal fanatics something new and bold to throw their horns at! And it's all been gloriously assembled here in this excellent, well-deserved and (thankfully) digitally remastered offering! And what an offering it is! Especially for those who worship at the almighty alter of dark and mysterious German heavy metal! Lewd Preacher first came into their own with the releases of the 1988 demo tape "The Master Socks the Fuse". Stacked with the tracks "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", "Wings of Evil", "Knights of Unknown Destiny" and "A Cry in the Night" this eighties' cassette demo should have shook the scene at the time! Of these four tracks it's all for one and one for all (aka: there's no dubs to be found among the bunch as these musicians seeming gave a 100% of their effort into putting out a cult metal classic! ) and if forced to pick one demo over another I'd reluctantly choose this one. And I do say reluctantly as both demos have a crap-load of goodies going for them! The only slight difference being the overall catchy nature of  "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", "Wings of Evil" and "Knights of Unknown Destiny" on demo number one. That said it's probably best that we expand upon Lewd Preacher's sound right? Or at least try to relay what it is about Lewd Preacher that really makes them kick. Seeing as heavy metal/speed metal is kind of a generic description and all!

First thing first. And that would be speed metal and thrash. Bands like Metallica and Megadeth (maybe even the dark appeal of Slayer?) come to the forefront, but that's merely a thin coating upon which Lewd Preacher was able to paint their own portrait. Past that Lewd Preacher (complete line-up featured below) was obviously influenced by the German metal scene in the eighties as they were smack dab in the midst of it! Listen closely and you can pick up on the likes of Gravestone, Stormwitch, Cutty Sark, Iron Angel, S.D.I., Grave Digger, The Hand Of Doom, Living Death, Scanner and Wallop. Oh, and dare we say Bloody Climax? How about Black Fate? Yes, those two cult outfits can be heard knocking around in this band's delightfully devious music meaning there's that much more to love about a band like this one! Quite the list right? The thing is there is so much more about this German band and their music. I'd also suggest that Lewd Preacher's music derives as much from  French acts like ADX, Blaspheme, High Power, Voie De Fait, Demon Eyes, Der Kaiser, H-Bomb, Killers, Satan Jokers, Sortilege, Vulcain and Warning. And then there is the whole N.W.O.B.H.M. influences like Satan, Hell, Demon, Cloven Hoof, Dark Star, Holocaust, Incubus, Rankelson, Shiva and Bleak House as well as anything/everything from solo Ozzy to Merciful Fate! To that mix we add in some Iron Maiden and a little Judas Priest and (trust me here as it works!) some Hawkwind and Uriah Heap! Now we're talking! Or are we? For the wicked thing about Lewd Preacher is how there's all of these different elements going on (fuzzy bass, kitsch keyboards, classic rock guitars and raw, almost-punk at times, vocal lines) within a band that is distinctly heavy. And that's just on the band's first demo! We're looking at a band that might just have been ahead of the times (weird keyboard effects over-top of thrash-worthy heavy metal?) and, judging by their own words in the CDs included interview, it might just have been that fact that proved to be their downfall!  Here was a band that was every bit progressive in nature and with all of these different musicians giving their own input and drawing upon their own tastes it's likely that it all proved to be too volatile! Thankfully they provided the word with two demos and (from the sounds of it) are once more active! But anyway, back to this release (one which features a total run-time of 59:48 and comes with a detailed booklet, colored tray and numbered certificate with hologram!) and on demo number two (1989's "The Fuse Strikes Back") Stefan Boßhammer came on board as vocalist with the result taking the form of  such creative numbers as "Hands From Me", "Borderline", "Sands of Secrets" and "The Other Side". And while I might just prefer the band's first demo, 1989's "The Fuse Strikes Back" has some killer moments all it's own! Can you say epic metal anyone?

Try "Sands of Secrets" which runs over 11 minutes long! This well-crafted number has such a remarkable flow to it that not once do you ever get the temptation to hit next on the CD! That says A LOT about Lewd Preacher and their talents as well as their ability to work so many different genres into one track! Meanwhile both "Hands From Me" and "Borderline" have slowly grown on me (I've listed to this album now about seven times since I pulled it out of my mailbox last week!) and album closer "The Other Side" wraps up what is without a shadow of a doubt one of those most unexpected surprises of the year! The body of this whole CD is remarkable as collective all eight tracks offer interesting twists and turns. Keyboard passages seemingly take their inspiration from 80's horror films like "Hellraiser" and "A Nightmare On Elm Street" as much as progressive rock bands of the seventies while the guitar solos often times switch from heavy rock to speed/thrash in the flash of an eye! Lewd Preacher simply had the right musicians in place for heavy metal like this to work. It's true that the catchy nature of  tracks like "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "Knight Of Unknown Destiny" make it seem as if Lewd Preacher should have provided the metal community of the late eighties with one more great act. And yet there's something about this release the feels dangerous as if Lewd Preacher were really meant to be a well-hidden secret after all. One that was kept from prying eyes for a reason. God knows if any of that makes sense, but then again anything having to do with logic gets kicked right out of the front door when you find yourself rocking out to a band that merges heavy metal/thrash with odd things like 70's fuzz, keyboards which are arranged as if they are almost Calypso-like (credit the skills of Wolfgang Cloos throughout "The Raw Age"!) and classic rock guitar parts that sound as if they could have been torn right from the front pages of Rolling Stones Magazine circa the early eighties! In other words this is about the sweetest underground German metal band that I've EVER had the pleasure of reviewing and I wish that I could personal give EVERYONE who digs super creative heavy metal a sealed copy of this wonderful discovery!

  Lewd Preacher's line up on these two demos was:

Vocals (The Master Socks the Fuse) - Tammo Holzhause
Vocals (The Fuse Strikes Back) - Stefan Boßhammer
Guitars - Christoph Kirschstein
Guitars - Matthias Koch-Schirrmeister
Keyboards - Wolfgang Cloos
Bass - Frank Becker
Drums - Marc Laukel

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Blogger Metal Mark said...

Sounds cool.

4:06 PM  

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