Released: 2011, Sinned Productions
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Cleveland´s probably most legendary heavy metal band, Black Death, did a few unnamed demo recordings during 1980-83 and one self-titled 8-track full-length that was released in 1984 together with a 2-song 7" EP, titled HERE COMES THE WRECKING CREW (only 2000 copies of the record were ever printed, making it a very hard item to find nowadays – and even harder with the 7” EP).
Coming to Black Death´s history shortly, the band´s early years (they started out in 1977 already as a nameless band) were not too easy for the band. They went through a few lineup changes, and even faced a violent death of one of the former members Clayborn Pinkins in 1979, who actually came up with the name ´Black Death´ together with guitarist Greg Hicks.
Black Death made a reunion in 2009, but only having the band´s original guitarist Greg Hicks left from the original 4-piece lineup. Hence this CD-release of Black Death (released by the current band members themselves), I guess – including the band´s entire debut album, the 7” EP, 2 songs that were recorded exclusively for the CLEVELAND METAL compilation – and in addition 1 live song that has been ripped from their live performance, which they did in their hometown Cleveland on March 23rd 1984.
The music here is quite a catch of raw and relatively simply played but hook-filled heavy metal that undoubtedly harks back to the early day of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Cirith Ungol, Motörhead, Black Sabbath and even Manowar, I would say (BATTLE HYMNS anyone?). It´s got bits from here and there, reminding me relatively shamelessly of those aforementioned bands´ earliest works, without copying harshly or directly any bands from those past fruitful days of heavy metal. The whole band sounds like they are truly on fire, delivering their goods very passionately and charmingly in the name of heavy fuckin´ metal. Vocalist Siki Spacek reaches also both low and high registers somewhat easily, obviously making many people compare him to such kings of heavy metal voices as King Diamond and Rob Halford more often than just only occasionally.
There´s lots of fascinating yet enigmatic charm to Black Death´s heavy metal. It just comes and catches you without warning – and reveals to you perfectly what heavy metal is all about at its best. The attitude, the spirit, leather, chains, sex, Satan, etc. – they are all here on this re-release of the band´s strong debut album, playing their important and vital roles as part of Black Death´s entire being.
Black Death has remained more or less as an obscure and mysterious metal band through all these 4 decades, so it will be interesting to see whether their 2nd coming will expose them more for the curiosity of bigger metal loving audience. At least they would deserve it, even if it´s only guitarist Greg Hicks who´s left from the original lineup of the band.