"Mass Slaughter: The Best of Slaughter" Album Review

Slaughter L-R: Tim Kelly (gtr) Blas Elias (dr), Mark Slaughter (vox), Dana Strum (bass)
Slaughter L-R: Tim Kelly (gtr) Blas Elias (dr), Mark Slaughter (vox), Dana Strum (bass)
"Mass Slaughter" CD cover
"Mass Slaughter" CD cover | Source

"Mass Slaughter: The Best of Slaughter" (Chrysalis, 1995)

Have you ever bought a CD that you suspected you were probably going to hate... but you bought it anyway? That's what happened to me when I came across this "best-of" compilation in a rummage bin recently. I never have been much of a fan of this early 90s hair metal quartet, but it had been years since I'd last heard them and since the CD was priced at an irresistible twenty-five cents (in mint condition!) I was willing to give Slaughter another chance.

Prior to buying this CD, the only Slaughter album I had ever owned was their Stick It To Ya debut (on cassette...remember those?), which I'd acquired back in 1990 thanks to a record-store employee friend who snagged me a promotional copy (The store manager was one of those college-radio snots who would dump any promos that were even remotely hard rock or metal on my pal, saying, "I refuse to play this sh*t in my store."). Back then I felt that the band were talented enough in a generic sort of way, but their weak link was their namesake vocalist, Mark Slaughter - whose nasal, somewhat girlish whine seemed to only have two settings: "Vaguely Irritating" and "Causes Physical Pain." Seriously folks, when this guy goes for a high note, cats head for the hills and dogs cover their ears and howl. I saw Slaughter open for KISS in late 1990 and unbelievably, Mark's piercing screech was even more annoying live than it was on record. (True story: the girl who attended the show with me leaned over about halfway through Slaughter's set and told me, "They're hot...but they can't play.") However, Slaughter happened to be a good lookin' bunch of dudes, and in 1990 that was all you really needed to make it big in hard rock music. Thus, Slaughter ended up selling a whole bunch of records thanks to a series of slick music videos and catchy singles like "Up All Night" and "Fly To the Angels."

"Up All Night" (1990)

The Rise...and Fall

Stick It To Ya was followed by a totally unnecessary cash-in live EP, Stick It Live, in late 1990. When their second full length, 1991's The Wild Life, crashed head-on into the brick wall known as "grunge" and sold less than half as many copies as its predecessor, Slaughter was unceremoniously dumped by Chrysalis Records. The band then hooked up with the retro-rock specialty label CMC International and made themselves at home there for the remainder of the 90s, cutting three more studio albums and a live release, Eternal Live - which sadly turned out to be an epitaph for guitarist Tim Kelly, who was killed in a 1998 auto accident. Slaughter hasn't released a new studio album since 1999's Back To Reality, but they continue to make regular appearances on the '80s metal retro concert tour circuit to this day, with replacement players filling in for the late guitarist Kelly and on-again, off-again drummer Blas Elias.

"Real Love" (1992)

"The Best of Slaughter"

Released in 1995, Mass Slaughter: The Best of Slaughter was a quickie record label cash-in that was produced for no other reason than to squeeze the last bit of juice out of the band (who'd already been dropped from the label's roster when this CD hit store racks). I suppose if you're a new fan who owns no other Slaughter material, this 18-tracker (!!) would be a good place to start... but if you already own the band's other releases you can safely skip Mass Slaughter, because there's nothing new or exclusive on it. Nine of the tracks are pulled from Stick It To Ya, seven from The Wild Life, and two are from the Stick It Live EP... and that's it. No additional live tracks, rare overseas B-sides, or movie-soundtrack songs to rope in the diehards and completists? C'mon, Chrysalis. You're not even trying.

Predictably, the CD kicks off with Slaughter's two best known tracks - "Up All Night" and "Fly to the Angels" -- and also closes with live versions of those same songs, from the Stick It Live EP. One wonders why Chrysalis didn't simply release a CD single with those two songs on it, call that "The Best of Slaughter," and call it a day. I've always liked the thundering groove of "Up All Night," and felt that it was one of the few times that Mark Slaughter's vocal histrionics meshed well with the musical mayhem going on behind him. In between the double-dose of those two very overplayed songs, Mass Slaughter basically sums up the entire hair-metal era in a nutshell - you get a fair share of slickly produced, hard-edged (yet still radio friendly) rock tracks like "Eye To Eye," "Mad About You" and "Shake This Place" mixed with watery power-ballads like "Hold On," "You Are the One" (sickening!!) and "Days Gone By" - which, depending on your tolerance for such things, will have you either hoisting your lighter aloft in a salute or reaching for your 'skip' button. I had forgotten all about the track "Burning Bridges" from Stick It To Ya, which is filled with hilarious barbs aimed at a certain former bandmate, and I hate to admit it but I also dug the sickly-sweet "Real Love" ... which may not be a particularly great song but my then-teenage crush Shannen Doherty of "Beverly Hills 90210" fame appeared in the music video for it back in the day, so it gets a pass from me. (Yes, I'm shallow. I realize that, so you don't need to bother pointing it out.)

In fact, I found myself enjoying the bulk of Mass Slaughter more than I'd anticipated. Yeah, there are still quite a few moments where I wished that someone would stuff a rag in Mark Slaughter's mouth and shut him up (particularly during the screechy "Mad About You" and "She Wants More") so I could listen to the musicians without him caterwauling over the top of everything, so not much has changed in that regard. Musically, however, they were a better band than I gave them credit for.

Vinnie Vincent Invasion.  The first word that comes to mind is "Yikes." (That's Mark Slaughter on the left and Dana Strum on the right.)
Vinnie Vincent Invasion. The first word that comes to mind is "Yikes." (That's Mark Slaughter on the left and Dana Strum on the right.) | Source

At Least They Weren't V.V.I.

At least Slaughter were less annoying than the band they sprouted from: the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, an ill-fated vanity project put together by the self proclaimed guitar wizard who'd briefly replaced Ace Frehley in KISS. The Invasion was an utterly over-the-top, poodle haired, glam-to-the-max band centered around Vincent's high speed guitar wankery and endless soloing, topped off by high-pitched, screaming Chipmunks-on-helium vocals. Chrysalis Records quickly scooped up the Invasion hoping to cash in on Vincent's KISS notoriety, but legend has it that after two under-performing studio albums (and rumors of financial misdeeds and overall douche-baggery on Vincent's part), the label abruptly cut Vinnie loose and offered the remainder of the Invasion's contract to vocalist Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum. The pair quickly recruited guitarist Tim Kelly and drummer Blas Elias, named the new project "Slaughter," and cut Stick It To Ya, promptly striking platinum - which must've been a pretty major karmic middle finger to their former egomaniacal band leader. (Landing a slot opening for Vincent's ex-KISS bandmates probably turned that screw even further.) I'm fairly sure that the song "Burning Bridges" on Stick It To Ya ("Oh, so you wanna do another solo? Well, not HERE, pal!" "You want to go to dinner? What? Charge it to the record company? You left your wallet at home?") was inspired by Slaughter & Strum's experience with the Vinnie Vincent Invasion.

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Summin' it up...

After numerous spins of Mass Slaughter, I still say that Mark Slaughter possessed one of the most irritating "singing" voices of his generation, yet I enjoyed enough of the CD to make it worth the twenty-five cent expenditure. Maybe it was lowered expectations, or maybe I'm getting nostalgic about music like this in my old age. I doubt I'll be buying any more Slaughter CDs in the future, but for now at least, I'm going to hang onto this one.

SLAUGHTER Discography:

Stick It To Ya - Chrysalis, 1990

Stick It Live (EP) - Chrysalis, 1990

The Wild Life - Chrysalis, 1992

Fear No Evil - CMC International, 1994

Hard Times (Japan-only EP) - Victor Entertainment, 1995

Mass Slaughter: The Best of Slaughter - Chrysalis, 1995

Revolution - CMC International, 1997

Eternal Live (live) - CMC International, 1998

Back To Reality - CMC International, 1999

Extended Versions (live) - BMG, 2002


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Comments 15 comments

FreedomMetal profile image

FreedomMetal 3 years ago from Somewhere In Time

(classic rock radio playing in the background, DJ speaks after the song ends) That was Up All Night by Slaughter... Currently residing in the Where Are They Now file....


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

"There's such a fine line between stupid and clever..."


Manny 3 years ago

After reading this blog, I pulled 'Mass Slaughter' out of the archives, and surprisingly enjoyed it a lot more then I had anticipated. Doubt I will spin it too often, but I enjoyed it for what it is.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Cool, Manny. Thanx for stopping by, as always!


smcgavin1 profile image

smcgavin1 3 years ago from Bowling Green, Ohio

I admit I really love "Up All Night". I thought the mix of distorted and clean electric guitar was really interesting . And there are a few other songs on that CD (I own it too) that I like, but for the most part, I prefer the Canadian thrash band Slaughter.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi smcgavin - I remember the Canadian "Slaughter" too, they pre-date the hair band by a couple of years... I always wondered why they never lawyered up when this "Slaughter" came along, stole their name out from under them and then sold a few zillion records... the name was much more appropriate for a thrash band anyway!!


smcgavin1 profile image

smcgavin1 3 years ago from Bowling Green, Ohio

Much agreed. Probably because they had broken up by the time the hair Slaughter got big.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

I remember there was much laughter amongst my thrasher friends when this "other" Slaughter came along, because we all remembered the brutal thrash band - our joke was "Oh noooo! Slaughter done sold out and went commercial!" Haha


stanmurphy profile image

stanmurphy 3 years ago from Kansas

That first album was really good for us hair metal fans. They probably should have just had it be their greatest hits with maybe 1 or 2 other songs from the follow-up.


smcgavin1 profile image

smcgavin1 3 years ago from Bowling Green, Ohio

Honestly, the thought did cross my mind until I heard the singing.


Thief12 profile image

Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

Slaughter is definitely far from the best rock band, but for some reason, I loved them when I was a teen. Still listen to their albums quite a bit. No mention of "Fear No Evil" in your hub though :-( which I thought was a very underrated effort. As a matter of fact, out of all their albums, it's the one I listen more nowadays.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi again Thief - I have only vague memories of "Fear No Evil" so there wasn't much I could say about it.. .hahaha


BlackDiamondCheesehead 3 years ago

Honest review. I just saw Slaughter perform live tonight -yeah, it rocked - but then again, I was a fan back in the day and dug Mark Slaughters' falsetto-like squeals...

Good month for me - KISS two weeks ago, and Slaughter tonight. I just need Winger to come to town, and I've relived my Hot In the Shade tour, 1990 -lol!

Peace, brother.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Very cool, BDC. I saw that same KISS tour back in the day.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 20 months ago from The Garden State Author

Updated

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