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My Cheap Heavy Metal Haul from Perris Records
CD Collector On Safari
I'm a lifelong metal-head who's constantly on the prowl for new acquisitions to add to my CD collection (1000+ and counting as of this past year). Naturally, I try to get the most bang for my buck when CD shopping and recently I was advised to check out the web site of Perris Records, a long running label and CD distribution service which specializes in '80s style hard rock and heavy metal. Perris has been in business for nearly a quarter century and though I was familiar with their name (their full page ads touting the latest releases were a staple of Metal Edge magazine back in the day) this was the first time I'd ever ordered anything from them. After spending a few hours combing through the "SALE" section of their site I had snapped up a baker's dozen discs at dirt cheap prices, and settled down to crank up some seriously obnoxious music. Here are the results of that shopping/listening spree...
Some Familiar Names...
Befitting Perris' all around "80s" vibe, I came across quite a few familiar names from days gone by while browsing in their bargain bin, though many of them are no longer members of the bands that made them famous.
Originally released in 2005, Eddie Ojeda's Axes 2 Axes (Black Lotus) is the debut (and so far, only) solo album by Twisted Sister's guitarist and it doesn't stray very far from TS' beloved meat-and-potatoes style of hard rock. Eddie drafted a number of special guest vocalists to help him out on certain tracks, including the late, great Ronnie James Dio (on the opening track "Tonight"), Twisted vocalist Dee Snider (for a cover of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby"), and Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow fame (on "Living Free"). The rest of the disc consists of some cool instrumentals and a few songs sung by Eddie himself, whose vocals have a bit of a raspy, bar-room rock n roll vibe similar to Eddie Money.
Nomad by Di'Anno (Perris, 2000) is a solo disc from original Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di'Anno, backed by a group of Brazilian musicians (Paul was living in Brazil at the time of this recording) and it's an aggressive slab of crunchy, yet still fairly melodic, metal. Paul's vocals lean towards the gruff, Pantera-inspired "tough guy" style a little too often, but when he's not trying to be Phil Anselmo he proves that he still has pipes, as evidenced by the very Maiden-ish "The Living Dead." Nomad may not be a mind blowing must-have, but it's Paul's most energetic sounding release in a long time.
Viva La Rock, Fantastico! by Broken Teeth (Perris, 2009) features vocalist Jason McMaster, who's been in dozens of bands over the years but is best known for the cult Texas sleaze-metal band Dangerous Toys. Viva pretty much picks up where that band left off, sounding like a fast-paced mesh of AC/DC, Guns N Roses and Motorhead, with a healthy dose of snotty punk rock attitude.
I had high hopes for Aerosmithsonian: A Tribute to Aerosmith (Perris, 2000) but it turned out to be a fairly run-of-the-mill tribute to the Bad Boys from Boston. The performances (by an all-star cast of '70s and '80s rock leftovers including Ron Keel, Gilby Clarke, Davy Vain, Paul Shortino, and Derek St. Holmes, to name just a few) are respectful but workmanlike. The 2nd CD of this 2-disc set features all original material by Disc 1's participants, so it would seem that this "tribute" was intended mainly as a promotional tool for the Perris artist stable. It only cost me about three bucks, so I'm not going to complain too much.
Eddie Ojeda - "Tonight" (with DIO on vox!)
New (to me) names
I took chances on a number of unfamiliar names during this shopping spree. While scrolling through the bargain-price offerings on Perris' site I had YouTube open in a separate browser window so I could check out any bands that looked interesting before hitting the "ADD TO CART" button. These three in particular turned out to be excellent scores:
Serpent Saints' All Things Metal (Emanes Metal, 2012) is a fun, cheesy-on-purpose throwback to the days of early '80s underground thrash/power metal. These sadly-now-defunct Swedes obviously studied their Mercyful Fate, Exciter, and NWOBHM albums well because All Things Metal captured the oldschool "evil" metal vibe perfectly. I liked this disc so much that I tracked down their debut CD (Leather Lucifer) as well!
I almost skipped over the self titled debut from Nasty Whores (Sleazy Rider Records, 2014) due to the stupid band name, figuring they were just another generic retro-hair metal band. However, the site described them as a mix of "Judas Priest and W.A.S.P." or words to that effect, and those happen to be two of my all time favorite bands, so I gave 'em a quick YouTube spin... and dang it, that description turned out to be totally accurate! "Nasty Whores" is surprisingly heavy, '80s style sleaze metal at its most rockin' and this disc quickly became one of my favorites out of this haul. Who knew? I still think the band name is stupid, though...
Shadowdance's Future Negative Fantasy (Rock-It-Up Records, 2013) is some pretty sweet power/progressive metal that should be of particular interest to fans of Iced Earth and Nevermore. They close the disc with a fairly reverent cover of Black Sabbath's "Children of the Sea," which is my favorite Dio-Sab track ever, so these guys are OK in my book.
Serpent Saints - "All Things Metal"
Mosh it Up!
I came across quite a bit of thrash metal while browsing Perris' sale bin - I imagine that the bulk of their customers are more interested in the "hair metal" or "melodic rock" styles, so thrash might be a tough sell for them. That was OK by me because it allowed me to add several new mosh-worthy combos to my collection that I was previously unfamiliar with, for pocket change prices!
The self titled debut from Denmark's Hell's Domain (Punishment 18 Records, 2013) is a rippin' slab of straight-up, old school Slayer/Exodus style thrash mayhem that isn't original in the slightest but it's definitely a fun retro listen. The band gets bonus old-school points for the album cover by thrash-art legend Ed Repka (who's done covers for Megadeth, Possessed, Nuclear Assault, and countless others). If you're thrash, you can't go wrong with a Repka!
Enemy At The Gate by Italy's Thy Gate Beyond (SG Records, 2013) was an entertainingly silly platter of hyperspeed retro-thrash, similar to Municipal Waste. The lyrics (when you can understand them) are pure "Engrish," which adds a bit of unintentional comedy to the proceedings, but the bullet-belt-and-mosh-pit brigade isn't likely to notice or care.
What the heck is a "Woslom?" Damned if I know, but it's the name of a seriously pissed-off sounding bunch of Brazilians who crank out the thrash like it's 1988 all over again. 2010's Time To Rise should fulfill any thrasher's daily recommended allowance of fast-n-furious. These guys have several other CDs available and I'm now on the hunt for them.
Hells Domain - "100 Days In Hell"
They Can't All Be Gems...
With basing most of my purchases on quick YouTube spins, I was bound to end up with a few disappointments in the batch. Three of the discs I ordered weren't up to snuff, but out of 13 total I'd still say that's a decent batting average.
Without going into too much detail I'll just say that The Prowlers' Point of No Return (Perris, 2013) and Tarantula's Spiral Of Fear (Ice Warrior Records, 2012) both sounded promising at first but in the end they were fairly dull power/prog metal discs. Both bands hail from Italy, so maybe it's something in the water?
Meanwhile Phantom-X's This Is War (Perris, 2009) was a fairly standard "true power metal" album with songs about, swords, war, blood, yadda yadda yadda. I think it may be a concept album about some sort of mythological battle but honestly I wasn't interested enough to pay that much attention. Oh well, you can't win'em all. (shrugs)
Phantom-X - "This Is War"
Summing It Up
My first-ever shopping experience with Perris was a positive one. Their site has great prices, and fast service so I highly recommend them to my fellow metalheads. I will definitely be back for another visit when I get some more money in my PayPal account!
If you're jonesin' for some new music to assault your ears with, head to their site and dive in. Who knows, you may just discover your new favorite band. Happy hunting!