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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


Warrior II

Review by Gary Hill

There are a couple points that need to be made clear right off the bat here. First off, this isn't precisely heavy metal. That said, some songs here qualify. Most of the stuff that misses could land in the vein of 80s hair metal in some fashion, and this stuff was recorded in the 80s. The other point is that none of this stuff was ever officially released. While some tracks are labeled "demo" or "rehearsal," the sound quality on the whole set is less than completely polished.

This band was made up Vinnie Cusano (later to be better known as "Vinnie Vincent") just before his tenure in Kiss along with Jimmy Waldo, Gary Shea and Hirsh Gardner fresh out of the band New England. Nothing was ever released by Warrior while they were together because before they got to that point Vincent left to join Kiss. Waldo and Shea became founding members of Alcatrazz with Graham Bonnet and Yngwie Malmsteen. A previous set of recordings from Warrior was released last year, and this digs deeper into old tapes to produce a double-disc set.

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Track by Track Review
No Substitute

Starting with a killer rocking guitar grind, as it works to the verse it takes on more of a power-pop element. The sound here isn't the best, but it is adequate. Comparisons to Cheap Trick wouldn't be out of the question on this number.

Back on the Streets (alternative demo)
This cut which is sort of an 80s pop rocker shows that it's a demo for certain. The vocals are problematic. It's definitely one of the weak points here.
Hot Nights
Among the most metallic stuff here, this also has a lot of the sound that Vincent would later show off with Kiss. It is edgy and metallic, but also has some definite hooks built into it.
I Need Love (alternative demo)
Another demo, this is a bit stronger than the previous one. It's also more of a driving rocker. For some reason I'm reminded of Todd Rundgren's Utopia a bit on this number.
This cut is more of an 80s pop rock styled piece. It seems more closely tied to Bruce Springsteen than it does to metal or hard rock.
That Time of Year (writing demo)
This might be a writing demo, but it's actually one of the best cuts here. It has a great keyboard and vocal dominated arrangement. The hooks and evocative nature are both exceptional. This has a killer guitar solo, too.
Forbidden (writing demo)
While this cut is based on keyboards and vocals, if it were done in a guitar dominated arrangement it would be a killer metal number. It has some definite 80s based soaring hooks. It's another of the more effective pieces here.
Boyz Gonna Rock
Keyboards bring this into being. The guitar screams out landing this more thoroughly in the metal zone. This is another that makes me think of the stuff Vincent would later do with Kiss. Comparisons to Motley Crue would not be out of the question, either.
It Ain't Pretty... Being Easy
Another with a lot of Kiss in the mix, this metal screamer really works pretty well. It's a stomper that has some solid hooks and drives well. I love some of the guitar sounds on this. There are definite glam rock leanings here. This is one of the hardest rocking things here.
Back on the Streets
Built around a very 80s pop metal structure, this has some hints of Foreigner. It is a bit more metallic than that, but the comparison is valid.
Gypsy in Her Eyes
We're back into meatier metal territory here. This is a screaming hot cut that works well.
I Need Love
This killer guitar rocker makes me think of Montrose to some degree. It has more of a metal edge than that suggests, though.
Baby O Why
This is another that's decidedly metallic. It has a lot of Kiss texture built into it, too. It's screaming hot and one of the strongest cuts on this first CD. All of that said, the chorus on this even makes me think of Cheap Trick a bit. I dig the guitar soloing on this thing.
Thrill of the Chase (1988 demo)
More keyboard based, this number has a real 80s pop rock vibe to it. It still has plenty of tasty guitar in the mix. This does have a driving energy built into it. The vocals bring it more into metal territory, too.
Gypsy in Her Eyes (rehearsal with vocal)
This is decidedly a rehearsal with false starts and all. It's a cool tune, though, and works pretty well despite that stuff. At less than a minute-and-a-half this is very short.
That Time of Year / Forbidden (rehearsal)
This rehearsal segment, though, is considerably longer. It clock in at over twenty minutes long. It's a bit much, but interesting.
Boyz Gonna Rock (instrumental rehearsal)
Now here we get into some decidedly Motley Crue like metal. This stomper is so cool. As you might guess from the parenthetical, it's sans vocals, but screaming hot.
Gypsy in Her Eyes (instrumental rehearsal)
I dig the keyboard sounds that start this cut. The number is another mainstream rocker with some metal in the mix.
My Heart Goes with You
This is a keyboard dominated number. It's another that's more mainstream pop rock tune than metal. It's effective, if a bit generic.
Forbidden (vocal demo)
Other than a guitar solo, this is strictly a vocal-only arrangement. There are multiple layers of vocals, and it works pretty well in this format.
That Time of Year (vocal demo)
The parenthetical on this one somewhat describes what you get here. However, this does have keyboards in addition to the vocals. It works alright for what it is.


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