This here is one of those releases that the band describe as ‘for the fans’, the die hard fans describe as ‘rare and unreleased’ and the rest of us describe as an ‘odds n sods’ collection. As such it’s pretty impossible to review if you’re not one of the specific people it is actually directed at. But here goes nothing…
Firstly if you’ve been speeding through the metal world for over twenty years with the commitment that Norwegian black/thrash veterans Nocturnal Breed have then in my book you can do what the Hell you want, with my respect. So if they want to release different versions of this depending on the country you live in then go for it. This is the German one (duh) and consists of a bunch of covers and ‘unreleased’ songs which are basically mostly demos and remixes of Nocturnal Breed songs.
If you are a die hard fan stop reading here and just go buy it. I am sure it won’t disappoint.
Let’s take things backwards and look at the last eight tracks first. The Nocturnal Breed ones. Now I find it impossible to cast any sensible judgement on this demo/version section as I can’t compare them and there is little you can add to a description that says ‘raw mix’. What you could glean as a non-die hard is that Nocturnal Breed are damned good at what they do; fast, tight with some excellent varied vocals and a real old school heavy metal influence to their ripping blackthrash. ‘The Artillery Command (alternative mix)’ pretty much tears you a new one, for example, and really is my kind of blackthrash with a pretty nasty groove to it. Screaming leads and thunderous drumming backing it all up. ‘No Retreat…No Surrender (speed metal legions version)’ sounds like a cracking song but the production is murky as hell and whilst it works for the vocals it blunts the guitars a little too much for me. See? I guess what this does do for a previously casually aware listener is Nocturnal Breed’s back catalogue needs serious investigation as it all sounds potentially right up my street.
The covers which actually open the album? Well after an intro that would be superfluous even in an album proper we get: ‘Metal Church’ (go on, guess who it’s by) which is not entirely a success in my book despite great vocals, but swiftly followed by WASP’s ‘I’m Alive’ which is actually bloody good and adds their own touch without losing what made the song great to begin with. ‘Miss Misery’ follows next. Now I’m kind of assuming they were inspired by the OverKill song, but that itself is a cover (Nazareth?) and it’s ok in a chunky way but not one of my favourites. Death’s ‘Evil Dead’ is next which is a very spirited version and very respectful and great er.. evil fun. Twisted Sister’s ‘Under The Blade’ is basically given a good kicking but unlike the WASP song I’m not convinced the death vocals work with it. Talking of WASP we get another of theirs next, ‘Ballcrusher’ which again just works for me and makes me smile a lot. Finally we get the classic ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’ which frankly I prefer to the original but maybe that says more about my not particularly soft spot for Anthrax…
Ah, this is one for the fans but I must importantly add that one thing it has done for me is ensure I check out Nocturnal Breed’s back catalogue, so as a showcase I guess it has done pretty OK.
(7.5/10 for die hard fans, 5.5/10 for the rest of us. Gizmo)