Metal Massacre 31
Released: 2016, Hell's Headbangers
I was writing some album reviews in late October and I was in the Halloween spirit…Halloween is after all the ‘Heavy Metal Holy Day’! Please enjoy this mini-seasonal themed set of reviews of 10 albums by Cradle Of Filth Ichabod Krane, Lordi, Metal Witch, October 31, Poltergeist, Sleepy Hollow, Them and Trick or Treat!
It is in interesting phenomena being an older fan in young genre. I grew up in the 80’s buying and listening to Metal Blade Records and buying Metal Blade compilations on cassette. I still have many of them tucked away. The series was a great source for new music. Obviously, a young King Fowley had a similar experience to mine, because those very same compilations, the Metal Massacre series, are the source of inspiration for a new album by his band October 31.
It’s no secret that shortly after forming his main band, Deceased, Fowley put together a project close to his heart, October 31. I don’t really like the term retro because…think about it…back in 1995 or so when he started October 31, it wasn’t ‘retro’ to do this style. It was just a cool, underground band continuing on in the traditional style of the 80’s. It wasn’t a revivalist thing or a nostalgia thing, it was just King doing classic, true Metal in an era of grunge, nu-Metal and all that trendy crap. Therefore, to label October 31, a band now in it’s 20th (+) year, a ‘retro’ act is a bit of a disservice. There were retro before retro was an actually thing! However, now in 2016, the band is looking back and has recorded an album of cover tunes based on songs that appeared on the Metal Blade Records, Metal Massacre series, hence the clever title METAL MASSACRE 31.
The timing of METAL MASSACRE 31 is perfect because in 2016, 10 years after the release of the poorly received compilation METAL MASSACRE XIII, Metal Blade Records released METAL MASSACRE XIV. While METAL MASSACRE XIII is a collection of cool, but largely trendy Death Metal bands, a decade later METAL MASSACRE XIV is a complete and total throwback to all the (true) young retro bands of the modern age that have found the perfect home on Metal Blade Records. So, to tie all of this release trivia together, Metal Blade has (finally!) returned to it’s roots and October 31 is now paying tribute to those roots with a ten track, 37 minute blast from the past. Even the cover art is an homage to the compilation albums!
I feel like I don’t even want to review this album. It is like trying to explain your favourite book or movie to a co-worker 20 who is years younger who has never seen the movie or read the book. It is an exercise in futility as they nod politely as you rant enthusiastically about something they don’t really care about. They humor you and you know it and it is almost waste of your breath because you KNOW they will never see that same book or movie in the same way you do, in fact they probably will just ignore your enthusiastic recommendation, however, you make the effort anyway because you are a true champion of that art that you love. So that is why I’m spending time sitting writing this rambling non-review instead of helping my wife put our kids to bed…because I care about the Metal Massacre series enough to own all of it twice over on cassette and CD.
This covers album is like a little private club…if you don’t know, if you weren’t there, you will never know. This album is the metal party you were probably never invited to. To try to explain all the trivia and nuances of the ten cover tunes here is almost an exercise in futility. METAL MASSACRE 31 brilliantly captures a certain point in time, a compilation of obscure bands into an even more obscure collection. Sure, any young band of Metal warriors can bust out an old Maiden or Priest cover at a live gig or on their album to help boost their Metal credibility, but Fowley this old rock dog, lived and breathed these songs. There are a precious few of us who still remember or care, but this is Fowley’s enthusiastic tribute to obscure bonus tracks of bands that no one really even cared about in the first place. I think nine of the ten bands on the covers album are defunct for at least 20 years. So if you remember any of these obscure bands like Hallow’s Eve and Demon Flight from the first time around, or if you really worship any of the new ‘retro’ bands on Metal Blade Records like Visigoth or Noctum the METAL MASSACRE 31 is totally worth your time and money.
METAL MASSACRE 31 just brings joy to my old Metal Heart. A cool band doing a cool albums of covers, obscure and created for the pleasure of the art. There are lots of covers albums but this one, even if it does not get the recognition it deserves, will be a very special tribute and testament to the iconic compilation series.