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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


Warner Albums 1988-1993

Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit that I didn't keep up with this band over the years. They are still around, though. This new release collects their first three albums and issues them in a CD box set. You can really hear the evolution of the band on these discs. The first disc, while good, is a bit rudimentary and formulaic. By the time they hit the second disc, they seem to bring some remnants of that sound, add in some Van Halen and use those things to make something new. It's should be noted that the Van Halen aspect is sort of natural as all three albums were produced by Ted Templeman, show is known for his work with VH. By the third album, the sound was decidedly more varied, unique and mature. Not everything here is metal, but much of it fits within the type of sound that was branded metal in the 80s, so I'm including it under that heading. This is a classy set with some strong music.

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Track by Track Review
CD 1: BulletBoys (1988)
Hard As a Rock

Appropriately this powers in with a sound that is hard as a rock. The tune has a raw texture and grind. It's very much of the 80s style metal, but on the meatier end of that equation.

Smooth Up In Ya
I love the bass sound on this cut. The tune is a bit more of a rock and roll groove than the opener was, and less metal. This is very much of the 80s glam metal school.
Owed to Joe
I love the sound of the metal groove on this cut. The tune has more of that 80s metal edge, but it's meaner and meatier than the last track was.
Shoot the Preacher Down
Perhaps this is less metal and more bluesy rock and roll. It doesn't matter because this screamer is just so strong. I love this song. It's one of my favorites here, and by "here," I mean the whole set.
For the Love of Money
A meaner edge makes this cut meaty. It's glam metal, but it's so cool. I'm reminded just a little of Living Colour. This is a cover of the O'Jays hit, which might be surprising. I love the guitar solo on this, and they do have some hints of funk in the mix.
Kissin' Kitty
Another fierce 80s rocker, this has a lot of glam metal and hard rock built into it. It's a solid tune, but not a highlight.
Hell on My Heels
Now this screamer stands taller. The formula isn't greatly changed, but the hooks are particularly strong and the whole tune really rocks.
Crank Me Up
Fast and furious, this is another screaming hot stomper. While not a highlight, this works really well.
This stomper is mean and edgy. It's another highlight of the set. This does earn a parental advisory.
There is such a classy groove to this tune. This is rough and tumble hard rock with some metal edges. I really love the guitar solo on the number.
Bonus Track:
For the Love of Money (Edit)

This is, as you might guess, a shorter version of the earlier O'Jays cover. It works well in this format.

CD 2: Freakshow (1991)
Hell Yeah!

The pounding, raucous opening of this track makes me think of Van Halen. The verses on this tune have an 80s metal sound. The choruses and breaks, though, are so much like Van Halen that it's scary.

THC Groove
Another that makes me think of Living Colour to a large degree, this is a meaty stomper.
Thrill That Kills
Super-hard edged and meaty, this is a real screamer.
Hang On St. Christopher
With a prominent percussion arrangement, this is cool change. The main part of the song includes the drums, some guitar and vocals. This is a unique and intriguing tune. I wouldn't call it metal, but I would call it excellent.
Talk To Your Daughter
More of an 80s rock and roll meets 80s metal approach is on the menu here. This is solid, but not really a highlight.
We're back in decidedly Van Halen like territory with the title track. This is classy stuff, and one of this highlights of this second disc.
That VH element is at play on this, too. The cut has some killer metal edge, too. This is another winner.
Do Me Raw
The mix of 80s metal and Van Halen is in play here, too. This is another powerhouse rocker that works really well.
Ripping Me
This one is so fierce. It's screaming hot metal that is on fire.
Say Your Prayers
Mean and edgy hard rock is on the menu here. This is another fierce one.
O Me O My

More of the 80s glam metal concept is in the driver's seat here. This is an accessible number. It still has some Van Halen influence on the break. I dig the bass work and guitar soloing on this.

This isn't far removed from an instrumental, with the vocals sparse and understated. It's another that calls to mind Van Halen.
Bonus Track
Rock Candy (Wayne's World Soundtrack)

Here they cover the classic Montrose tune. They really infuse some smoking hot metal edge to the piece. It was always a hard rocker, but this version really intensifies it. I think I like this version better than the original.

CD 3: Za-Za (1993)
When Pigs Fly

I love the mean metal texture of this killer tune.

Slow and Easy
This is another meaty hard rocking grind.Of course, that runs counter to its title.
The Rising
Starting atmospheric and gradually rising upward, this gets a parental advisory. It turns decidedly heavy, but still remains mostly slow. It's a strange, but so cool tune. Like "Huge," the vocals here are sparse and not far up in the mix.
Sing a Song
Now, this is a huge change. It's a killer ballad. This is a melodic tune with a great vocal arrangement. There are even hints of bluegrass in the instrumental arrangement.

This isn't a metal tune, either. It's a blues rocker with a classic melodic rock groove to it.

We're back into metal zones with this high energy stomper.
The Show
Frantic and fierce, this is so strong. It makes me think of Guns N' Roses to a large degree. It's also got plenty of that 80s metal, hard rock vibe to it.
For the Damned
The melodic, nearly balladic, sounds that bring this into being are so tasty. There is a bluesy edge to this cut. It's one of the strongest songs of the whole set.
Laughing with the Dead
Fierce metal is on the menu here. This is meaty with a real classic metal vibe. Yet there are some killer melodic rock hooks here, too.
This is another meaty hard rocker. It's still mean and leans on the metal end of the spectrum.
They close the set with a fierce metallic rocker. This is screaming hot and one of the strongest cuts of the whole set.
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