Warrior Soul - "Salutations from the Ghetto Nation" (1992) album review

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Warrior Soul - SALUTATIONS FROM THE GHETTO NATION (DGC Records, 1992)

Warrior Soul should have been huge.

There, I said it. If there was one band that deserved a chance to take metal to a whole new level in the 1990s (and give the world a swift kick in the nut sack in the process), Kory Clarke and his NYC-bred crew of gutter rats was it. This band certainly seemed to have all the necessary firepower to break into the big time as they prepared to release Album #3 in 1992 -- a bulging catalog of critically-acclaimed, killer anthems, a major label deal and big time management, and most importantly, a brand-new set of amazingly angry, literate, politically charged songs delivered by a charismatic frontman who was blessed with a big mouth and a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore. How could such an explosive combination possibly miss? Yet Warrior Soul was doomed to languish in obscurity, while Rage Against the Machine (who were basically preaching to the same choir as W.S.) grabbed the brass ring and went on to become big time rock stars -- an oversight that will forever remain a mystery to me.

"Love Destruction"

Salutations From the Ghetto Nation hit me like a hand grenade when I first heard it in 1992. I seriously thought that this was the band that would save metal, which at the time was in danger of disappearing up its own ass. For those of you too young to remember, the early 1990s were a very dark time for metal heads. The Seattle Brigade had taken over MTV and radio, and much of metal's old guard was either being dropped from their labels, taking time-outs due to lineup troubles, or merely releasing sub-par records in the hopes of coasting a little further on the fumes of their reputations. It was also a very dark time for me personally. I had just graduated from college and was having no luck at securing a job in my chosen career field. I was still living with my parents, working a crappy minimum-wage retail job to pay the bills, I had no car, and no girlfriend. Basically, everything about life pretty much sucked at that point in time.

"The Fallen"

In other words...the dream seemed to be over, until the fateful day that Salutations' first track, "Love Destruction," came blasting out of my speakers on the local college radio station. It was catchy, it was intense, it was fresh, and it sounded just as pissed-off as I felt. FINALLY! Someone I could rally behind! After that Molotov cocktail of an opening track, the buzzsaw guitars of John Ricco and Clarke's howling vocals gave me a crash course in cynical civics that could never be taught in any school. "Blown" and "Shine Like It" quickly proved that the first track was no fluke and that Warrior Soul weren't just another troop of pre-fab "tough guys," they walked it like they talked it. By the time I got to the shoulda-been-a-hit-single "Punk and Belligerent," with its irresistible, infectious refrain of "I don't give a, give a, give a, give a S**T!" I was ready to go outside and give somebody a "Clockwork Orange" style beat-down. Clarke's intense hatred for Republicans is all over this record (it had been a recurring theme on the previous two discs as well), but it's more pointed than ever on the absolutely corrosive "The Party" ("infrastructure is wasted/and we're deaf to the crowd/nothin' left for the children/it's OK, we won't be around"), whose lyrics seemed to be ripped directly from the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. "Ass Kickin'" and "I Love You" briefly break the tension with some good old fashioned goofball headbanging, which leads into the gorgeous, epic ballad "The Golden Shore" (even bad-asses like Kory Clarke have a soft side, y'know) before crashing into the one-two punch of final tracks "The Fallen" and "Ghetto Nation," which combined to paint a bleak picture of the declining American empire, whose youth is being swallowed up by the streets. The effect was absolutely devastating... yet at the same time it rocked like a ton of bricks. It was official, I had a new favorite band.

...fat lot of good it did me, or the band, for that matter. Salutations From the Ghetto Nation stiffed on the charts, just like the band's previous pair of albums. Record label support was non-existent, and within a year from the time I discovered them, Warrior Soul was falling apart. They released Chill Pill in '93, an occasionally interesting but mostly meandering art rock/post punk album, as a contract-fulfilling middle finger to the DGC label, and Kory assembled a new lineup for '95's The Space Age Playboys, an experiment in cyberpunk-influenced glam/party rock, which was fun... but it just wasn't the same. The Space Age lineup fizzled, and the dream seemed to be over.

In the mid 00's, Kory Clarke relocated to Europe and built yet another new lineup of Warrior Soul. Their 2009 home-brewed release, Destroy the War Machine, showed some of the old fire, and the recent Stiff Middle Finger is another angry, ass-kickin' good time. I'm glad that Kory is still fightin' the good fight, but deep in my heart I know that this band will never top Salutations From the Ghetto Nation. More than 20 years after its initial release, it still sits atop my list of Desert Island Discs, and someday, I want it buried with me when I die. For one -- ONE -- brief goddamn shining moment, Warrior Soul could have had it all.

If only the world had bothered to listen.

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Comments 12 comments

ScurvySkalliwag profile image

ScurvySkalliwag 5 years ago from Judith River, Montana

Great Rant...

I didn't always agree with Kory's perspective but I respected and appreciated the way he did things. IMHO, the drugs were more of a factor in this band imploding thana mere lack of success. This album has lots to take notice of and shouldn't be dismissed on the basis of any preconceived notions. Give it a spin !

Laters


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanks Skurvy... glad you enjoyed it...watch for more Retro Metal Rants in the very near future!


ninjakitten 5 years ago

Agreed that Warrior Soul never received the accolades or fame that it deserved however Kory Clarke is still one helluva frontman, let alone a pistol - never afraid to tell you what he thinks. I think it's refreshing and encouraging to see artists like Kory continue to do what they do despite combating the challenges faced, when we live in a world of where singers/bands are being produced almost solely for profit.

I've also seen Kory as the new singer for the band "Trouble" and he rocked! (Trouble is another band that should have received a lot more than their cult status. Perhaps fodder for your next rant?)


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx for your comment, Ninjakitten -- and may I add a "hell yeah" for your support of Trouble! Love that band, though honestly I'm still not sure if Kory is a good "fit" for them ... the few live clips I've seen of him fronting them on YouTube haven't impressed me much, but I'm a fanboy for both bands so I'm cautiously optimistic about the forthcoming new Trouble studio album w/Kory fronting them ... we'll see what happens.


Probos 5 years ago

I loved Warrior Soul, but your love of them clouds your objectivity. The reason Warrior Soul didn't "make it" was based on three things IMO:

Image

Timing

Sonics/production value

Their image was not well defined. Cory looked like a guy kicked out of a hair band for not being glam enough. John Ricco (guitar) had a similar look and the other two were kind of forgettable. They came up when the hairband/glam stuff was on the decline and "grunge" was on the rise. Things were more stripped down image and sound wise,.....band timing for them. Lastly the sonics and production of their records was very 80's sounding. Image if a guy like Brendan O'Brien could have produced and mixed Salutations From The Ghetto Nation?

Saying Rage Against The Machine were "overrated" is BS. Rage were great, had a better image that fit the times and a more stripped down sound that people expected back then. Not saying they were better or worse, the timing just worked out better for them. Lots of luck involved.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx for your comment, Phobos... all I can say is "diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks," Warrior Soul were right up my alley whereas Rage did nothing for me... it's all a matter of taste.

I agree, my fanboy love for them probably may cloud my objectivity more than a little bit. Haha.


Nicky1971 3 years ago

A friend and I were discussing why Warrior Soul weren't more successful and he said. "They're just too good.".

Our consensus was that WS had lyrics that were highly intelligent and thought provoking - things which neither big business record companies nor many punters want in a band sadly. The combination of brilliant, adrenaline and anger fuelled music and equally outstanding lyrics is just too intimidating for many people. WS are right up there in my all time top ten favourite bands.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi Nicky - always good to hear from another Soul fan. Thanks for stopping by.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Updated


darkprinceofjazz 22 months ago

I was able to see Warrior Soul open up for Queensryche in 1991 in Cincinnati. I agree, very underrated band. I do sort of agree with an above reader comment about the mixed signals of the image, but even the Seattle bands had an image, it just happened to be the image was no image.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 22 months ago from The Garden State Author

Hi darkprince - I agree as well, the band came along at a weird transitional period in hard rock and I don't think the Geffen label - or the band themselves, for that matter - knew which crowd to market Warrior Soul to.

I didn't see them on their ill-fated Queensryche tour but Kory Clarke has talked for years about how the "spoiled rich suburban brats" in Queensryche's audience didn't "get" them at all.


wsboots 7 months ago

Great rant, I feel the same way about this album - it's perfect. I read a piece about the band a while back that put forward the idea that their problem was they had no audience, they were too Metal for the Alternative crowd & too Alternative for the Metal crowd. I think there's an element of truth in that.

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