Strike Back In Flames

Strike Back In Flames
7
This reissue claims to allegedly be the first Italian heavy metal album ever ("before Vanadium and Vanexa!" says the bio). It's originally from 1981, so that claim could well be true. I'm in awe of how good this sounds, the production definitely dated but charming, natural and sounding great for 1981. It's tight like the best of Judas Priest or Thin Lizzy, and the drum sound, well you don't get that anymore. The tunes are more metal than Lizzy, definitely in line with Priest, philosophically and sonically. While this is basically a Priest rip-off, it's really hard not to get caught up in the exuberance of it all, and the pure early metal joy the songs have, as well as the streamlined classiness of the songwriting. "Head Out" sounds like prime '80s Judas Priest (shockingly, it's just as good), "Running the Race" evokes the better moments of vintage KISS and "Heavy Metal Army" employs NWOHM riffing, not unlike Saxon. While this is a great record for metal historians, it loses points for casual listeners due to a run time that drags (thanks to the inclusion of demos) and the fact that, yes, this sounds like a dated Priest clone. (Jolly Roger)