Metal Mind Productions
Alongside the output of Battlezone, Killers is arguably the brightest spot in Paul Di’Anno’s pretty dark post-Maiden career. The band grew out of Battlezone in early 1991 when Di’Anno and drummer Steve Hopgood hooked up with session guitarist Cliff Evans and recruited former Raven bassist John Gallagher.
Whether it is quite worth a full repackage and relaunch by Metal Minds Productions remains to be seen. They have done a good job though. The band’s two studio albums ‘Murder One’ and ‘Menace To Society’, together with the controversial live album ‘South American Assault’ each appear with five live/rehearsal bonus tracks and are clothed in shiny, attractive digipacks with informative sleeve notes.
South American Assault (originally released in 1994)
The new band was booked to play some shows in Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina during 1991 and arranged for the shows to be recorded. Legend has it that the tour fell through and that the tracks that appear on this album were recorded in New York by a mobile unit. The album didn’t see the light of day until 1994 after the band’s studio albums had been released and has been fairly hard to get hold of.
Whatever the truth of its orgin, what we have here is ostensibly a set of Maiden covers taken entirely from Di’Anno’s time with the band between 1978 and 1981. The exception is the terrible, clap-along encore of ‘We Will Rock You/Smoke On The Water’.
The sound is a bit thin, but Killers deliver the Maiden material perfectly competently. Di’Anno has always had a strong voice. It’s too bold in the mix here, but there is nothing wrong with his delivery. ‘Remember Tomorrow’, for instance, gets the full treatment. His style is in a lower register to Bruce Dickinson and has a more gutteral growl. On that basis there may be some marginal interest in hearing these tracks performed with their original singer. But if that’s what you want, you will already have the far superior ‘Maiden Japan’.
This release doesn’t add very much to the collective enjoyment of early Maiden classics.
Murder One (originally released 1992)
The liner notes paint a fascinating picture of some showcases that the band performed for record companies after their South American adventure. Killers ran through their Maiden repertoire because they had no material of their own. There was a cheque-book finish on the basis of the shows with the ‘winning’ label apparently none the wiser that the songs were both old and covered.
By the time the band hit the studio, bassist Gallagher had returned to Raven, replaced by Gavin Cooper from Battlezone and Nick Burr stepped in for session guitarist Ray Detone. The album was slammed together in a fortnight or so in upstate New York, presided over by Rob Fraboni.
Despite all that, and taken in context, some of the material ‘Murder One’ just about stands up. The context is that everything here is highly derivative. Album opener, ‘Impaler’ is a pure Judas Priest circa ‘Screaming For Vengeance’. But it is pretty good homage all the same. Driving guitars, powerhouse drumming and Halford-esque vocals. ‘The Beast Arises’ features the same Priest chug and structure, but again is well put together and Di’Anno chucks in a decent, powerful vocal and there is a great solo from Evans.
Still on the positive, ‘Marshall Lockjaw’ has big, tasty riffs and a half decent hook. But it ends there. The material runs into the ground. ‘S&M’ is plain cringeworthy drivel. ‘Dream Keeper’ and ‘Awakening’ are half-arsed power ballads and the covers of ‘Children of the Revolution’ and ‘Remember Tomorrow’ are pointless.
One for the diehards.
Menace To Society (originally released 1994)
The wheels had come off (not for the first or last time) the Di’Anno bandwagon before this album was even recorded. The singer had had to send early tapes to band members from his LA prison cell.
Di’Anno was subsequently kicked out of the US and the material was recorded in Newcastle. It sees the band attempt to update their sound, this time with a darker, harder, angrier approach that draws significantly on the power/grind of Pantera.
Musically there is some insanely good drumming from Steve Hopgood with bass drum licks to drool over, as on ‘Advance and Be Recognised’ and ‘Die By The Gun’ Cliff Evans’ guitar stabs are precise and sharp, ‘Chemical Imbalance’ for instance. And Di’Anno once again shows the power of his vocals, albeit in highly derivative style.
But the material is so poor and thin that very little stands up here at all. There is a heavy reliance on sweary, juvenile lyrics and the tracks ramble through average riffs and hooks repeated ad nauseum with stilted structures and a complete absence of ambition and originality.
Pretty poor fare.
Review by Dave Atkinson
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