For those of you with serious `underground’ credentials, the true diggers and delvers into the less well-known acts that are out there to be discovered, some of you few may be aware of King Fowley, a true underground legend in his own lifetime. His strictly old-school Death/thrash metal band Deceased is how he’s mostly known, however October 31 is a more traditional metal affair (and yet just as prolific). King Fowley and all who work with him (including Jim Hunter – bass player in Twisted Tower Dire and While Heaven Wept) seem to live and breathe the old-school metal vibe, and this, the fourth full length release, is another slab of truer-than-true, authentic heavy metal.
Just as you would expect, there is no modern gimmickry here, no keyboards, no hip hop influences, no hint of `Nu’ or industrial metal, just raw, dramatic, over-the-top and neck breaking heavy metal. For the uninitiated, this is rough and ready heavy metal rooted firmly in the 1980’s. One suspects that one of the criteria for joining October 31 is an encyclopaedic knowledge of obscure 1980’s heavy metal bands. For this is no simple carbon copy of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. There is definitely a rougher, more underground vibe here, like the transition period between NWOBHM and Thrash metal. The riffs are gargantuan, less reliant on masses of twin harmonies, and more about creating a dark, heavy atmosphere than beautiful melodies.
One of the great things about October 31 is the huge doses of dramatic theatricality in every song, aided in part by King Fowley’s voice. He may even admit himself, he is no `singer’, but he puts so much feeling and melodrama into his voice, each song is like a low-budget stage production, or even horror film. In that way it reminds me a little of King Diamond’s 80’s material, the fact that so much feeling and imagination has been put into it. The no frills, meatier-than-thou riffs also remind me of the might Saxon, yet there are lots of little atmospheric touches which make the music unique – a creepy arpeggio here, and rip-roaring solo drenched in reverb there. The pace of each song is always mid-paced to fast, so the album powers through without ever getting boring. There are heaps of guitar solos going off in your face like flash bombs, and each song is delivered like an attack, intent on punching a hole through your ear drums.
There really isn’t too much more to say; this album is an embodiment of everything it means to be Heavy Metal; massive, meaty riffs, dark, dramatic atmosphere, screaming solos, creepy subject matter, all delivered with piles of power and passion. If you are a fan of NWOBHM and 80’s heavy metal, this is definitely something you should give a listen to.
(8/10 Jon Butlin)