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Review: October 31 - Metal Massacre 31
October 31
Metal Massacre 31

Label: Hells Headbangers Records
Year released: 2016
Duration: 36:24
Tracks: 10
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: April 27, 2017
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.86/5 (77.14%) (7 Votes)

There have been a ton of NWOBHM revival releases in the past 10 years, from original British (and other European) bands re-releasing their classics, re-recording them or coming out with new albums to a host of new bands playing in the style of their heroes from the past. Not nearly as much has been done or said regarding the early days of U.S. (and Canadian) Metal before everything went glam. Leave it to October 31 front man and Heavy Metal purist King Fowley to release an album of covers culled from the legendary Metal Massacre albums originally released by Metal Blade Records starting in 1982. These albums featured some of the earliest recordings of many bands that went on to huge success (Metallica, RATT, Armored Saint and Slayer to name a few) and a host that never went much further than their appearances on one of the Metal Massacre compilations.

Metal Massacre 31 is King's attempt to bring some of those overlooked bands back to light. If you've read any of the tribute articles here at The Metal Crypt that King has participated in, you'll not be surprised he focuses on the early and obscure and seems to like only the initial output of a lot of bands with little use for their later material. Anyway, apart from the band Omen ("Torture Me") whose debut album Battle Cry is a classic, most of the other bands covered here are known only if you read the back of the Metal Massacre album they were on or if one of the musicians later went on to fame somewhere else (e.g. Aloha featured a young Marty Friedman). This means a lot of these songs are going to be new and now, given the October 31 treatment, will sound surprisingly fresh. This was before glam, as I mentioned, and all these songs kick ass. Many of these early bands came up with thundering riffs and great solos and often brought the speed. What hasn't stood the test of time as well are the lyrics and tracks like Aloha's "Heavy Metal Virgin" and Hallow's Eve's "Metal Merchants" come off terribly cliché while Omen's "Torture Me" is just uncomfortable. Also, Fowley and October 31 play these songs with gusto but his vocals are limited and even though there are 10 different bands represented, if you didn't know that you'd assume they were all from the same source, so some of the individuality of the originals has been lost.

It may have some weaknesses but Metal Massacre 31 is a clever project and I thank Fowley and October 31 for giving a new generation of fans the opportunity to hear these songs. They may not be the best North America ever came up with but that won't stop you from banging your head.

More about October 31...
Review: Bury the Hatchet (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Gone to the Devil (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Meet Thy Maker (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: No Survivors (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Stagefright (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Visions of the End (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
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