Thursday, February 23, 2017

Decibel Demon-Declassified

Brutal Records

I'm flying blind on this release so let's get all of the misc.apologies out of the way first. Back in early November I was sent a short email on this release, but for whatever reason I never anything heard anything more about this submission. Fast forward a couple of months and the name Decibel Demon pops up once again. It was in a different setting, but "Declassified" was there all the same. Was it fate calling me or was it just a random occurrence? Honestly, I didn't know and I wasn't sure that I wanted to find out. After a week or so of mulling it over I decided to do a Google search and see what I could find. Depending upon where you look it's been dubbed speed metal, death metal, hard rock, and (oddly) even punk, but the few soundbites that I managed to hear...well, they suggested something else. After reaching out to the Facebook address that was attached with the originally email and having zero success (talk about frustrating!) I did something that I have never done before: I just bought the damn album on iTunes! Granted, I had extra money on my iTunes' account (thanks to the generosity of a certain young metalhead that is currently dating my daughter), but it's not my usual practice to go this far out of the way for a record submission! All of which brings us right back around to Decibel Demon and their (sole?) release. Mixed and mastered at Sea Saint Recording Studio in 1987(!), "Declassified" features a line-up of Brian Jeffrey (vox), Francis M. Howard (guitars), Scott W. Latour (bass), and Moyses M. Howard (drums). For those of you with a rich knowledge of metal, Brian Jeffrey and company were a part of Louisiana's Incubus (not to be confused with the angsty- teen "metal" Incubus or the far superior* N.W.O.B.H.M. Incubus). Apparently this was pre-Incubus. As for the album? Well, it's about as far removed from the death/thrash metal style of Louisiana's Incubus as one can get! With both clean singing and high pitched wails that would make Rob Halford and Steve Grimmett proud, "Declassified" is primarily a eighties metal album & partially a mad cap mixture of raw metal, (very) hard rock, metallic punk, and even (metal-fueled!) garage rock and roll! In other words, Decibel Demon are nothing at all what you would expect given their name and the above artwork!! All of the songs on this re-mastered release** are different, pieces and parts of different genres/different influences swirled about with a surprising amount of success. What's also surprising is the fact that the album was engineered by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Cosimo Matassa. Mostly known for working with R& B and (early) rock and roll stars, Mr. Matassa oversaw the development of artist like Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, and Dr. John! Finding his name in the credits of this album was unreal...even if rock n' roll and heavy metal have shared histories. But anyhow, "Look Out Lighted" opens things up on the album and from that point forward it's pretty easy to recognize the face that all bets are off when you are dealing with music from the eighties. As long as you are aware of that, "Declassified" comes with recommend. Sure, it's with a wink and a bit of a nod, but Decibel Demon does make me wonder about other lost recordings from that same time period in (heavy metal) history.

*As in far superior to the nu metal/alternative rock version and not necessarily this 80's metal one.

**Per this page, "Declassified" was nearly lost after the terrible events of Katrina. Or at least the original mastered recording were.


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