Part two: Michael Stronge, Gavin Strickmann and Scott Adams delve back into the eighties and come up with a mixed bag of bands for your delectation...
A is for… Adrenalin O.D.
OK, AOD ain’t exactly eighties metal, but they were one of the bands at the forefront of the Crossover movement of the mid – eighties that brought metalheads and punks closer together after years of mutual distrust and downright dislike.
Somewhat derided in some circles for their comedy lyrics, they were nevertheless a furiously competent hardcore band – listen to the coruscating guitars of Paul Richard and Jim Foster on their 1981 debut The Wacky Hi-Jinks of Adrenaline O.D. and tell me that’s not the work of a ‘proper’ band – with a propensity for really, really fast thrash riffs to complement the goof-off lyrical matter.
Second album HumungousFungusAmongUs was seen by long term fans as a bit of a cop out, disgruntled scene kids thinking the band were pandering to johnny-come-lately thrash fans who’d come to the band via the recommendation of Anthrax (like me – not-as-cool-as-you Ed.), but it’s not so very far removed from the debut, even if the comedy levels are upped in inverse ratio to the savagery of the riffing, By far a bigger jump was the band’s third album, Cruising With Elvis in Bigfoot’s UFO, wherein the band employed producer Daniel Rey to give them a glossy sheen designed to attain wider acclaim; the bid to escape the hardcore ghetto didn’t really work and by the time Ishtar was released in the 1990 the band knew the game was effectively up. – Michael Stronge
A is also for… Aerial
Silky but largely forgotten Canadian AOR. Aerial were a successful bar band Beatles tribute act who made classy albums on the side, almost for shits and giggles. Their 1980 album Maneuvers is pretty much as good as it gets in its sphere, creating a blueprint that fellow Canucks Loverboy ran with and took to multi-dollar fortune and fame later in the decade. Fiercely melodic, yet with a nice little bite in the guitar department from singing axeman Tim White, it’s hard to see why they didn’t really click with fans on a big scale back in the day. – Scott Adams
A is also for… After Hours
Quintessential eighties Brit AORsters After Hours should have been huge. Indeed, had they been American they probably would have been. Or at least bigger than they were, which wasn’t very big at all. Sadly for them, the market in their homeland for sleek, glossy radio-friendly hard rock in the Journey vein just wasn’t big enough and, like so many others, their withered on the vine. Let’s face it, if class acts like FM and Outside Edge couldn’t conquer the world, what chance did bands like this have? Possessed of a fine, fine vocalist in John Francis (where is he now?) and featuring former MSG keyboardist Andy Nye on the keys, After Hours confected a marvellous sound, but sadly that just wasn’t enough. – Gavin Strickmann
A is also for… Agent Steel
Oh, the disappointment. If you believed the hype that built around the band almost as soon as the 144,000 Gone demo hit the streets, you were about to witness a thrash metal epiphany of second coming proportions; First album Skeptics Apocalypse was greeted accordingly, although it didn’t really click with thrash fans who liked the punk end of the musical spectrum, like me, being more of a speeded up version of bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon. Still, it put the band front and centre in the Euro metal press, and the hype grew again. Even after an uneven EP, Mad Locust Rising, which featured a version of Judas Priest’s The Ripper on it that had my Priest-loving mate Dozza howling with anger because madcap vocalist John Cyriis had changed the lyrics from ‘London town streets’ to ‘Armageddon town streets’, some people still believed that the band, who by now also featured guitarists Bernie Versailles and Juan Garcia and rhythm section Chuck Profus (drums) and Michael Zaputil on bass, were the real deal.
The band’s second album, The Unstoppable Force was hailed again by the likes of Kerrang! As something akin to genius (yep, it got a full KKKKK review from the mag’s Xavier Russell, who described it as being ‘up there with the Slayers and Kreators of the world’-Ed.), and so dutifully we all trooped to London’s Hammersmith Odeon for a thrash mini-festival headlined by Cyriis and co. but also featuring Atomkraft, Onslaught and Nuclear Assault. Atomkraft were nonsense, but Onslaught and Nuclear Assault were magnificent, so much so that portions of the crowd were thoroughly thrashed out by the time the headliners took the stage. By now featuring soon-to-be-death metal gun for hire James Murphy on guitar, what they served up will live in my memory for ever as one of the most laughable expositions of Tapesque drivel I’ve ever seen… An intro that seemed to go on for ever – something to do with welcoming Alien overlords to the venue, I think – blinding light followed by the realisation that half of the band, years ahead of time, were wearing hi-vis boiler suits or variations thereof, all were guaranteed to induce feelings either of nausea or intense ennui amongst the waiting faithful. Twenty minutes of uneventful (though admittedly excellent) screaming and dull riffing later, we were heading for the exits with throngs of other disgruntled punters.
This of course didn’t hamper the band, who limped on in one form or another for another twenty years, but my memories of the band will be forever tainted by that night ion June 1987 – Michael Stronge