Witchtower/Blackslash “A Tribute To Randy” (Iron Shield Records)
When I first saw the title, I thought this was a tribute to Randy Rhodes. But no. Spain’s Witchtower and Germany’s Blackslash are paying tribute to little known Danish band Randy, who were around in the early to mid 80s and only released a demo and a single while they were active. And since their demise in 1987, there’s been a demo release, plus a compilation.
So what you get on this EP is each band providing two original numbers, plus a cover of a Randy song.
Witchtower begin with “The Beast”, which is the b-side of Randy’s first single. And if, like me, Randy are an unknown quantity, go check them out on You Tube as they really were a good band. This cover is probably a bit more melodic than the original and loses some of the Speed Metal/NWOBHM feel… the guitar solo reminds me of early Pretty Maids as well, another classic Danish band from that era.
I much prefer their own material as the two Witchtower originals, not only have better production… but it feels like Witchtower unleashed as they perform with a lot more freedom. But I can see why they wanted to pay tribute to Randy, as their music does sound like it comes from the same era.
Blackslash have decided to cover “It’s Got To Be Love”, which begins as a big lighters in the air ballad, before transforming into a bouncing rocker that has a few hints of Status Quo in the rhythm section, and lashings of sugar in the chorus. And don’t try and fight it, you’ll be singing the chorus for days after…
And they’ve absolutely nailed it, in every department. It sounds like the original, but has a more up-to-date sound… let’s hope their own material reaches the same dizzy heights.
Both numbers will be on their forthcoming album, Lightning Strikes Again, and if the rest of the album sounds like this, wow, it’s going to be a classic. I can’t quite pin down who they remind me of, but it’s sort of like a NWOBHM band who have improved the genre and added melodic backing vocals everyone from Queen to … I don’t know, maybe early Def Leppard would be proud of. The comparison is annoyingly eluding itself from my brain.
But it’s very 80s Metal and sounds exactly like part of my teenage soundtrack… and as I’m now 51, that was quite a long time ago.
Overall, a very good idea. It introduced me to both bands, and also to the music of Randy… which is actually really good and much better than the band name would suggest.
I’m looking forward to the Backslash album as well…