Released: 2012, Motor City Metal Records
It is no secret that some of the key factors in the longevity of certain Metal bands are the passion and drive of the artists and fans. There are certain bands that avoid trends, ignore the fads, and continue on year after year, with or without commercial success. They continue to write, record and tour because, like us they love Metal. I would hazard a guess that at this point 30 years into a career, it’s not about the fame and fortune. I happened to notice that recently seven classic bands have reached (or are about to reach) their 30th anniversary and all of them have put our new, full-length studio albums in the past few months. 30 years is a long time in any career, especially one as fickle as the Rock ’n’ Roll business. This month, I decided to pay tribute to these fine bands in a feature where I review all their most recent releases. As of 2012, most of these bands have little or no representation on this site, and I’m here to fix that. It’s hard to imagine that almost 30 years ago, as a teenager, I was buying the debut albums of all of these bands, on cassette! The bands in this feature are Burning Starr (US), Exxplorer (US) Halloween (US), Mad Max (Ger), Oz (Fin), Sinner (Ger), Vengeance (Hol). They are the unsung, heads-down, in the trenches, Metal veterans that emerged in the very early 80’s, and are still going strong. They deserve your respect and attention.
Halloween, like many of the bands in this feature are survivors. Not the most prolific band TERRORTORY is only album number five in 30 years, (six if ya count the remake album) but Halloween epitomize the true independent spirit by releasing everything themselves on their own label, Motor City Metal Records. The lineup has stabilized and for the first time in their career they have had the same lineup two albums in a row (following 2006’s HORROR FIRE) with the addition of second guitarist, Don Guerrier. The band gives great value with this 16 track album clocking at over 70 minutes adorned with a really awesome cover, of course with their pumpkin mascot dude leering over a graveyard. Nice artwork!
One thing I always felt was that the production on Halloween albums was a bit thin. Independent or not a label with a budget, a studio, a producer, and an engineer could make the difference, but I feel these rivet-dogs are pretty unlikely to compromise at this point! Besides I’ve got used to the ‘Halloween’ sound, which is a bit trebly, super tight snare and pretty inaudible bass. Could be my crappy stereo too… The title track, Terrortory’ is very atmospheric and opens with an awesome scream by Brian Thomas before dropping into a really catchy, crunchy groove. Generally the band plays it quite open and loose but never frantic or off the rails. The songs have some decent arrangements and varying tempos, maybe even bringing to mind Nevermore. There are many little bright spots scattered across the album, like the song ‘Where Is Michael’? a cut supposedly about horror movie icon Michael Myers. This cut has a slower, almost lumbering pace and some great soloing in the introduction. The album ends on a pleasant note with an instrumental, a brief, unaccompanied piece on acoustic guitar called, ‘Into The Afterlife’.
To me Halloween truly embody that underground, cult mentality born from a love of playing Metal. It’s as simple as that. TERRORTORY is as good as any of the other albums and recommended for those metal fans who say they don’t make them like they used to. Halloween still does.