martedì 7 marzo 2017

October 31 - "Metal Massacre 31" (Hells Headbangers Records, 2016)

Band: October 31
Title: Metal Massacre 31
Genre: Heavy Metal
Year: 25th November 2016
Time: 36 min
Rating: 70/100

You can read my review (in Italian) about "Bury the Hatchet" through the following link:

After two articles about punk/HC bands, the only way to bring back this 'zine to an heavy metal direction was the review of a celebration, edited by Hells Headbangers Records, of the pure heavy metal of the '80s! In fact, the 5th album of October 31 is a bit strange: it's a covers album with no new songs. But what are these cover tracks? Yesss, this is a very fundamental question because we aren't talking about "normal" cover tracks! Specifically, October 31, guided since the early days by the singer King Fowley (also leader of the old-school Death metallers Deceased), this time have wanted to homage the fundamental series of Metal Massacre compilations edited by Metal Blade so to coverize tracks taken from the first 7 Metal Massacre volumes released between 1982 and 1986. That's why the album is titled "Metal Massacre 31"! As you know, the aforementioned 7 volumes were a very important showcase for the then emerging North American heavy metal scene destined to remove the decadent NWOBHM from his metal throne launching, towards the pantheon of the metal gods, young bands like Metallica and Slayer or foreigners ones like the Swiss Hellhammer but producing also many cult bands often never able to realize an album throughout their short and unlucky life. Just these last ones are the bands privileged by October 31 for this anthology comprised of little classics of the heavy metal music, and the most important of them are, surely, Omen, Hallow's Eve and Aloha (with a very young future-Megadeth member Marty Friedman before Aloha changed their moniker into the very absurd Hawaii in 1983).

Ended this long mandatory introduction, I have to say that October 31 have coverized tracks mostly very close to their muscular, aggressive and fast heavy metal full of horror and occult lyrics, and this explains the inclusion of dark songs like "The Battle of Armageddon" of Tyrant or "Forbidden Evil" of War Cry. At the same time, these 5 guys from Arlington, Virgina are committed to create an album useful to give an exhaustive picture of the '80s US metal in its purest form so to exclude, for example, the glam metal of bands like Ratt (that was included effectively even into the first volume of Metal Massacre).

At this point, there is need to do a fast track by track of the album. In fact, "Metal Massacre 31" ranges from the high-energy heavy metal of "Cross My Way" (Death Dealer) to the fast and tough but melodic power metal of "Torture Me" (Omen), or from the dark slowdowns à la Black Sabbath of "Forbidden Evil" (War Cry) to the backbreaking and mega-hysterical power/thrash of the anthemic "Heavy Metal Virgin" (Aloha), or again from the rocking influences of "The Awakening" (Titanic) to the scrappy thrash metal of "Metal Merchants" (Hallow's Eve), to end the album with the obscure and evocative epic metal of "The Battle of Armageddon" (Tyrant).
Photo by Tara Fowley

All these cover songs are very personalized especially thanks to the vocal performances of King Fowley, which is a versatile heavy metal singer like few others. At the same time, he is able to add to the songs a good dosage of grit and malevolence due to his typical raucous and aggressive vocals à la Cronos of Venom alternating them, for example, with very violent and hysterical screams, more melodic vocals and even some wicked whispers. In my opinion, you can find the better result of all this into intense songs like "Cross My Way" of the Canadians Death Dealer or "The Alien" of Sacred Blade (a band completely stranger to me until some days ago). And forget that there is also "Dead of the Night" of Demon Flight, almost unrecognizable due to the King Fowley's vocals since the original 1982's version was characterised by...ahem, very very ridicule (but fuckin' nostalgic) falsettos!

In conclusion, "Metal Massacre 31" is perfect to who wants to breath totally the '80s metal (excluded an enough clean and modernist production) and to revive the Metal Massacre compilations so to give to them the right recognition. But, surely, "Metal Massacre 31" is only a covers album and I hope that October 31 are writing new songs for a 6th album in their style. Meanwhile, you know that the band, always faithful to the roots of heavy metal, has recently participated to a tribute album to Exciter that will be release, if I am not mistaken, on 28th April 2017.


1 - Cross My Way (Death Dealer cover)
2 - Forbidden Evil (War Cry cover)
3 - Torture Me (Omen cover)
4 - The Awakening (Titanic cover)
5 - Dead of the Night (Demon Flight)
6 - Heavy Metal Virgin (Aloha cover)
7 - The Alien (Sacred Blade cover)
8 - Metal Merchants (Hallow's Eve cover)
9 - The Warrior (Final Warning cover)
10 - The Battle of Armageddon (Tyrant cover)


King Fowley - vocals
Matt Ibach - rhythmic guitars
Brian "Hellstorm" Williams - lead guitars
Jim Hunter - bass
Sean Wilhide - drums

Track Stream:

Hells Headbangers Records:

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