Fear No Evil

Slaughter

CMC International Records, 1995

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/24/1998

There are times that bands can amaze me. Although I have had the first three albums from the hard rock quartet Slaughter in the Pierce Archives (what can I say, I'm a sucker for a sale), I've never been a big fan of the group. (I also admit I have not listened to these albums in years... this is one reason "The Daily Vault" was started: to force me to listen to things I hadn't touched in a long time.)

However, a recent trip to the used record store found me walking out with a copy of Slaughter's fourth album (third if you don't count Stick It Live), Fear No Evil. And what I heard on these twelve songs, quite frankly, blew my mind. This was a band that had gotten their musical act together and had created a tight package that was not afraid of taking chances. One fan site I checked out called this Slaughter's best release; I don't have any disagreement with that.

The band - vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Mark Slaughter, guitarist Tim Kelly (who was killed in a car crash earlier this year), bassist Dana Strum and drummer Blas Elias - have by no means abandoned their hard rock roots. Instead, they have refined them, as well as their chops, to create a fresh sound. One listen to even the first song on the album, "Live Like There's No Tomorrow," tells you that this is a different Slaughter than the one that cranked out "Up All Night" and "Fly To The Angels".my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Songs like "Get Used To It" (which still had a little more rock cliche than I would have liked), "Let The Good Times Roll" and "Outta My Head" all demonstrate the power Slaughter has had all along - a power better served with well-written material. (Even the "spacer" pieces "Divine Order" and "Prelude," are solid efforts, and make you wish they had been longer to see how they developed.)

The chances that Slaugher take on Fear No Evil are where the band finds its greatest success. "Searchin'" features Slaughter performing a vocal in an entirely different style. In fact, I preferred it over some of the yelping; this was much more soulful and moving. And although the keyboard part on "It'll Be Alright" sounds like it came right off of The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever," it does add a new twist to the mix that ends up freshening up the flavor quite a bit.

In one sense, Fear No Evil is the perfect album for the Slaughter fan. But still, I would have liked to hear more songs (which would have meant possibly cutting the two "spacer" pieces") and less cliche - for that matter, I would have liked to hear Kelly break the boundaries of control and just cut loose with a guitar solo from hell. There's definite emotion in his playing, but I would have liked a little more garlic to it, if you will.

Fear No Evil faced two hurdles when it came out in 1995. First, metal was - at least in the eyes of the industry - dead, and no one seemed to want to promote it for fear of throwing money into the toilet. Second, many people didn't take Slaughter seriously (and some still don't). Saying that Slaughter made a good album was akin to saying that a television product actually worked. (On that note, I loved my Pocket Fisherman when I was growing up.)

Let's be honest: I bought this album on a whim; I was willing to give it a chance for two bucks. And in the end, it turned out to be a gamble that was well worth taking. Unfortunately for Slaughter, not many people were willing to take such a gamble. Two words: your loss. Fear No Evil showed a lot of growth in the band, and was a surprisingly solid and powerful release from a band that earned the right for your attention. It's enough to make me willing to give those earlier albums another chance.

Rating: A-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.