Reviewed: March 2018
Released: 2017, Heaven and Hell Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Heaven and Hell Records recently dusted off and reissued two albums by the Portland, Oregon cult heavy metal act Cruella. Cruella burst onto the scene in 1986 and released a few demos before releasing their debut album “Vengeance Is Mine” in 1989. A year later they would release “Shock The World” minus original vocalist Rick Nolen. Both albums feature digital remastering courtesy of Jamie King at The Basement Studios, stunning new artwork, deluxe liner notes, archival photos and “Shock The World” features three bonus demo tracks from 1992.
“Vengeance In Mine” is fast, technical and pretty flawlessly executed heavy metal. From the opening number “In Time/Beyond Belief” the listener is treated to a stellar band fronted by the killer pipes of vocalist Rick Nolen. Guitarist Roger DeCarlo is clearly an accomplished axeman and the rhythm section of bassist Rob Conrad and drummer Dave Hval lays a firm framework of steel.
The lyrics and delivery of “Bat’s Breath” stands out as the band works well weaving in and out of tempo changes, at times venturing into speed metal territory during the solo section. “Kicked In The Ass” is a real… ass kicker. Double pedal kicks and Metallica-inspired riffery semi-reminiscent of “Fight Fire With Fire”. You know you can’t have a proper eighties metal album without a song like “Fight The Dragon (F.T.D.)”.
“Shock The World” doesn’t resonate as well with my ears minus original vocalist Rick Nolen. This is a pretty radical departure of the band’s original sound and it’s admirable bassist Rob Conrad and drummer Dave Hval tried to keep the Cruella machine going by handling vocals post Rick Nolen when many other band’s might have changed their band name altogether.
Cruella has reformed and recently performed at the NorthWest Metal Fest in Seattle, Washington. I’ll be looking forward to hearing the band with new drummer Charles Nelson and new vocalist Jym Harris.