Clearing the Docket
I was recently treated to releases from two very old-school metal bands that impressed me a great deal. (You can get them free, too.) Since in the past I was critical of the retro metal movement, it made me think hard about what it is that I like about these records that I don't like about many others.
First up, I'm going to talk about the UK's Amulet. Cut the Crap is their four-song demo released in 2011, and it demonstrates that they are a band that does everything the way I think it should be done. They play a style of doomy heavy metal that goes back to the basics, in an unselfconscious and completely honest way. Their vocalist is good, and does his work in a straight-forward way. The production is a bit hazy, but the mix is great, with the instruments taking precedence over the vocals. Most of all, they have good riffs, and good solos.
Buy Cut the Crap on cassette here.
Download Cut the Crap here.
Compare that to New Zealand's Razorwyre. Released under their former name Gaywyre, the unsubtly titled and consciously retro 2009 EP Coming Out seems like it should represent everything I hate about retro metal. It pokes fun at 80's tropes, with ridiculous lyrics, half-ridiculous Halford-esque vocals, and a feigned obliviousness to all the homosexual innuendo. Like I said, it seems to represent everything I hate, except for the fact that the music is incredibly good. They're mostly speed metal, but sometimes (as in the last minute of "Party of Five") they go into full-on NWOBHM. The songs are improbably infectious, especially the hilarious/awesome "Battleshark".
Buy Coming Out on CD here.
So, why don't I hate Razorwyre? I think it's really quite simple. Yes, they're making fun of metal. But they also fully embrace it. They're joking about themselves, not playing a joke on us or being ironic. And that's the key difference between them and the idiots in Enforcer.
The Verdict: I find in favor of Razorwyre. The record is just too good to give anything less than a 4 out of 5 star rating, and the aforementioned "Battleshark" is itself worth checking it out. This is not to say that Amulet are slouches either, so Cut the Crap gets a 3.5 out of 5 star rating.