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Avenger (UK) - 1985 Killer Elite



ARTIST: Avenger (UK)
ALBUM: Killer Elite
LABEL: Neat
SERIAL: NEAT 1026
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 2009, Krescendo, KRECD36

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Ian Swift - vocals * Greg Reiter - guitar * Mick Moore - bass * Gary Young - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Revenge Attack * 02 Run For Your Life * 03 Brand Of Torture * 04 Steel On Steel * 05 (Fight For The) Right To Rock * 06 Hard Times * 07 Under The Hammer * 08 Face To The Ground * 09 Dangerous Games * 10 Yesterdays Heroes * 11 M.M 85 * 12 Sawmill


Background
The undisputed crudeness of the heavy metal scene in the 80's was surely never highlighted more fiercely than by England's Avenger. Formed from the ashes of noted NWOBHM purveyors Blitzkrieg, this was the bands second album, following 1984's 'Blood Sports.' The production of the début was akin to that of a fiftieth generation cassette and the cover is spectacularly horrific, with some geezer shaded in red, holding up a chainsaw wearing spiked American Football gear. Then again it was all part of the charm of the scene, although by 1984 the NWOBHM was fading fast and acts like Avenger sounded utterly ramshackle and amateurish compared to obvious standard bearers like Iron Maiden, Saxon and Huw Lewis' Samurai. A year later the band returned for a last shot at glory, with Greg Reiter replacing Les Cheetham on guitar. The production was superior more importantly, with a heavier sound which while still as refined as Newcastle F.C. past and present, was a marked improvement.


The Songs
The song-titles should be a dead giveaway as to the direction of the album. You could ask yourself if there's ever been a greater representation of heavy metal on a single album. By the same token it's derivative of so many bands that even beginning to compare them is exhausting. To me it's an inferior version of Raven, with a sound stuck in 1982 and trading riffs with other failed acts like Jaguar or Spartan Warrior. Some of the thrash inspired tracks like 'M.M.' (Metal Mayhem) is astoundingly fast and easily on the level of an Anthrax but without the songwriting, production and professionalism. The Raven comparison is obvious on 'Fight for Your Right' which is a defiant anthem in the face of society's values and norms, which Avenger clearly lived outside the boundaries of. A title like 'Dangerous Games' suggests melodic rock overtones, but it's another typical piece of metal, heavy but with zero depth and leaving me tempted to skip it every time I listen to it. The drums have a thunderous effect throughout, coming up trumps on 'Revenge Attack' and 'Run For Your Life.' The latter has Maiden-like melodic tendencies, but by 1985 Maiden had left the gore themed 'Killers' direction long behind. Oddly the opening riff to 'Face To The Ground' could be Van Halen, but that's where it ends, just another routine cut of pounding heavy metal which lacks the touch to propel it to the level I suspect Avenger was shooting for.


In Summary
This is heavy and sometimes with surprising melodic content, but mostly it leaves me stone-faced and motionless, too repetitive and dull to really force a reaction of genuine admiration. Looking back at 1985 the metal scene was inundated by various sub-genres, all rapidly developing. Avenger had been left behind and while this might have made the grade a couple of years earlier, by 1985 the NWOBHM was a relic. Amazingly Avenger is still in rotation, with their third album 'The Slaughter Never Stops' released last year. Swift and Young are still present, looking ancient next to the youthful hired guns. Their deal with Rocksector Records led CEO Mark Appleton to state 'Hooking up with AVENGER is an exciting step. On the one hand, the new album is, of course, a much-anticipated event from a band with history and heritage, but also when listening to the song 'Fate', available now as a free download, it's clear how relevant and vibrant this music remains.' For a band as minor as Avenger to still be allowed to record and maintain an audience says it all.


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Comments
#1 | reyno-roxx on August 02 2015 22:28:54
This band had a lot of talent. Unfortunately they were signed to the wrong label and suffered a huge amount of bad luck. Little known fact is that Ginger, later of Wildhearts infamy, joined them on a short tour of Holland prior to the recruitment of Greg Reiter and this album being recorded. Avenger did Tour in the States with Liege Lord before it all fell apart.
#2 | Eric on August 09 2015 22:30:30
I remember seeing 'Blood Sports' in import shops and was like wtf... Some of those sleeves of the period were disturbing and musically far removed from my AOR/ Prog tastes. That said I did buy the Bathory debut once out of stupid curiosity. Halfway into the second track 'Reaper'and I was done, had enough and it never returned to my turntable or my collection!
 
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