Reviews, Comments & Other Putdowns for this Record

SPEED METAL HELL II: A Collection of 12 Tracks by 12 Bands

A few details about the record:

  • Release year: 1986
  • Label: New Renaissance Records
  • Catalog #: GWD90548
  • RPM: 33
  • Purchased at: Can’t remember the store name but it was in Las Vegas on Maryland Parkway, near the university. They focused mostly on hard rock and metal but were only open a couple of years. I suppose it was hard to compete against stores like The Underground & Odyssey Records at the time. Tower Records was not there yet and Benway Records wasn’t a thought at this point so this “metal store” was the only place I could find any decent selection of metal and hard rock. If I wanted to buy a Minutemen record, something by Nick Cave or one of The Las Vegas Grind albums then I would go see Wayne or Brent at The Underground, but not much in the metal world. But I digress…
  • How much did I pay for this record?: $8.29

Track 01: Rapechase by AT WAR

Paul Arnold – Bass & Vocals  |  Shawn Helsel – Guitars  |  David Stone – Drums

    The first track on Side 1 of this record definitely sets the tone for the rest of the album. This compilation is not one of those records that starts strong and ends boringly with lots of fillers in the middle. It is very similar to a Motorhead album in that if you like one track, you will like them all but, if you dislike this first tune, then you won’t change your mind by the end of it. Reagarding the song… The riff is great and the structure of the song is solid but, in my opinion,
    the lyrics are moronic and not well thought out. This song was great back in the day when I didn’t care much about lyric content and just wanted the energy behind the music with a good sounding vocal behind the riffs.

Track 02: Loving Tribute / Burned Alive by MAYHEM

Craig Lower – Bass  |  Eric Olson – Guitars  |  Steven Hanford – Drums | Matt McCott – Vocals

    The song begins just like Jaihouse Rock by Elvis Presley does but I doubt it was a tribute – at the time it was probably just in fun more than anything, but I’m not sure. This song keeps the momentum going from that first track and clocks in at 3:05 – perfect! I’ve always liked my thrash to be short and sweet, unlike some metal/thrash songs that just go for 7+ minutes. Rarely can bands in this genre capture someone’s attention for more than 4 minutes per song. Obviously, bands like Metallica, Diamond Head, and a handful of Megadeth songs are great at this but there aren’t many. Again, I digress from the topic… Onr funny thing about this album is Mayhem’s group photo on the back. All other 11 bands have photos that were in the typical Metal/Thrash stylings of a small or underground label in that they all pose for photos by A) trying to look serious and mean as hell in their denim and leather, B) acting out like a group of 5th graders, mouths agape, and occasionally looking like they are about the kill a member of the band, or C) pose with their instruments (so we all know who plays what) in a very metal-like fashion. But not Mayhem… They just looked straight at the camera and smiled – I love it!
    So, this Mayhem is the band from Portland, OR and not the same as the one from New York, the one from Kentucky, nor the one from Ohio. Oh, there’s also a black metal band by the same name from Norway. AND, there’s another one called NYC Mayhem from Long Island. Unfortunately, the Portland Mayhem is no longer together (to the best of my knowledge) so I can’t point you anywhere to check them out. But, I would like you to check out a video by the Mayhem from Norway – enjoy… Mayhem

Track 03: Plaque of Messiah by SAMHAIN

Hund – Bass & Vocals  |  Esben Slot Sorensen & Henk Leviathan – Guitars  |  Max Due – Drums

    So, this is not the same Samhain that a lot of you out there are familiar with. This band is from Denmark, which is why they were sort of known as Samhain DNK (much like the band Drain STH). I believe they changed their name sometime around 1987 to DesExult. This is one of my favorite songs on the album.
    Not sure if this band is still together as DesExult, but here is a link I found on YouTube to the Samhain Plaque of Messiah song (please let me know if you encounter this link as not working): Samhain-PlaqueOFMessiah

Track 04: Neckbreaker by ANVIL BITCH

Dave Carr – Bass  |  John Plumley – Guitars  |  Chuck Stadilus – Drums | Gary Capprioti – Vocals

    The main riff on this one always reminds me of Metallica’s Metal Militia when I hear it, which isn’t a knock on the band at all but they were on the heels of Metallica’s dust (like most of the bands back then). Overall, they are a band that I would have gone out and seen back in the 80’s. Not much else to say here.

Track 05: Crown of Thorns by SAVAGE THRUST

Jimmy Gellentien – Bass  |  Edmund Varuolo & Pat Donofrio – Guitars  |  Bob Boch – Drums | Michael Smith – Vocals

    I hate to keep referencing Metallica’s Kill Em All but this song is full of riffs and changes that sound like they came right out of the demos for that album. Nothing at all against Savage Thrust (other than the name – hah) because the playing field was wide open back then and with bands like Anthrax, Metallica, Metal Church, Slayer, and a handful of others paving the way, it was hard to make a unique mark. Overall, a decent track, although I was never crazy about the high-pitched vocals – King Diamond and Rob Halford had the patents for this style and few could do it better.

Track 06: Buried Alive by DEATHRASH

Pat Burns – Bass  |  Pat “Nemo” Nemeth – Guitars  |  Tony Scaglione – Drums
| John Scherer – Vocals

    I loved this song initially mostly because it sounded more punk than it did Thrash, which I was really into at the time. My roots were definitely metal but the punk bug really hit me at a point in my life, which mas the start of the branching out movement that molded my musical tastes. I remember when I was in high school and my friend Scott Feld played me the first Suicidal Tendencies record and I was a little hesitant at first (stupid ego) but I soon gave in to a new world. In case I never thanked you, thanks, Scott! Anyway… The singer always sounded British to me but then I found out that they are from Jersey. Another fun fact about this band on the album – the photo on the back sleeve shows three guys but the lineup on the song has four members. Overall, a great song to include in your collection if you are into the punk/thrash scene. Also, I think they are still active, which is cool.

Track 07: Metal Slaughter by AGGRESSION

Dug – Bass  |  Death & Burn – Guitars  |  Gate – Drums | Butcher – Vocals

    Not to be confused with California’s Agression (with one G). This band comes from Canada and I believe they are still active. They started in 1985 and it appears as if they are still going strong. Thrash on!

Track 08: Don’t Get Mad…Get Evil by TEMPTER

Mick Neals – Bass  |  Mark Carter – Guitars  |  Steve Zentner – Drums
| Doug “Monster” Henderson – Vocals

    Hmmm, not my favorite track on the album. I always pictured them being a little more in the glam metal world and I recently found a photo of them that kinda confirms that. They were a little more like Motley Crue during the Leather Records era but not quite as good.
    I don’t think this band is still together but you can check out this song at: TempterOnYouTube

Track 09: Hammerhead by FLOTSAM & JETSAM

Jason Newsted – Bass  |  Michael Gilbert & Edward Carlson – Guitars  |  Kelly David-Smith – Drums | Eric A K – Vocals

    Ahhh yes, at the time we didn’t know it but Jason would be joining another band very shortly after the release of this record. Flotsam & Jetsam were from Phoenix AZ (I think) and are still going strong today. They had a release in the US in 2016 and rumors have it that they are going to release another album sometime in 2018, which usually means a tour! This is not my favorite song of theirs but it fits well on the Speed Metal Hell series.

Track 10: Day of Attonement by WARGOD

Greg Gunthner – Bass  |  Michelle Meldrum & Phil Williams – Guitars  |  Lee Raunch – Drums | Rob Perkins | Vocals

    All kinds of stuff going on here… First thing though, great thrash song! It almost has a place right under Slayer’s Haunting The Chapel (and yes, that’s a compliment). Secondly, it is my understanding that this song is mislabeled on this record – it should have been “Warning” and not “Day of Attonement” (not to mention the misspelling of the word). Michelle Meldrum was one of the guitar players for this band and most of us metalheads know here mostly from her days in Phantom Blue and Meldrum before she passed away from a growth on her brain in 2008. She was married to John Norum for roughly 13 years, who was one of the founders of the Swedish band Europe. As we all know, Michelle was also in Phantom Blue from 1987-2001. The drummer in Phantom Blue was Linda McDonald, whom you will see a lot of on this site because she is the drummer for The Iron Maidens – what a small world. Also, I have some never-before-seen video of Meldrum when they played with Nashville Pussy and Black Label Society in Santa Ana that perhaps I’ll post one day. Shoot me a message if that might be of interest. One last thing about this band… I’m not sure for how long, but Gene Hoglan (from famed bands like Strapping Young Lad and Death) got his start in this band. Okay, a little lengthier than most but there is definitely some history with this band.
    The band Wargod is no longer but you can check out this song out at: WargodOnYouTube

Track 11: Cracks Under the Ice by OUTRAGE

Becky – Bass & Vocals  |  Steve Allen – Guitars  |  Chris Load – Drums
| Nick Arrow – Vocals & Guitar

    Another band out of Canada. I’ve always dug the music on this track but felt that the vocals just didn’t fit and held it back from being a great thrash song. Not the lyrics, just the sound of the vocals is what I take issue with. The singer sounds more like he belongs in Gang Green to me, which is a band I like. At the end of the day, a fun rowdy track.
    Apparently, At War is still together and you can check them out at: OutrageOnYouTube

Track 12: Ready to Die by POST MORTEM

Mark Kelley – Bass |  John Alexander – Guitars  |  Rick McIver – Drums
| John McCarthy – Vocals

    And finally, Post Mortem; a band from the Boston MA area. This song is a great closer for the album because it leaves you wanting more. The guitar is solid and steady on this one. Also, a very punk sounding song that clocks in at a little over two minutes – perfect! I couldn’t find much information on these guys so if you know anything, send it my way and I’ll update this. I think they may still be active but am unsure about that.

Overall thoughts on the album…

    The producers did a good job of making sure all the songs were normalized, range compression-friendly and (somewhat) equalized so it sounds like you are listening to one album versus a bunch of different recordings. I own a number of Various Artist releases where this highs & lows are all over the place, which makes for a bumpy listen. This compilation almost sounds like the majority of the bands went to the same studio to record – kinda cool. Overall, not my favorite record in the collection but I will throw it on from time to time. If you want to hear some roots (or perhaps secondary roots) of thrash then this will satisfy.

    If you are interested in purchasing this album, there are a few used copies for sale at Discogs: Go check it out

Nun said…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply