Various Artists – Texas Metal Archives Volume 1

By Jason Wellwood

The trouble with historic records is always varying quality. Sometimes it accurately depicts the time period, sometimes it misses the mark completely but since it was the historian’s favourite piece, it ends up being included. Thankfully, with Texas Metal Archives Volume 1, the only issue here is the varying sound quality from one piece to another. This, of course, is more an issue with technology at the time than with anyone person’s choice of songs. Let’s face it, something recorded in 1983 by an independent band is just not going to sound as crisp to those of us who have spent years listening to reissue after reissue of our favourite analog recordings until digital finally got it right. You know what though? That just makes this feel more authentic and, for those of us who remember the times, brings back a comfortable, exciting familiarity.

Archivist (and Solitude Aeturnus founder) John Perez notes the difference in the sound of the bands at the time: several fly the spiked armband flag of traditional metal yet sound nothing alike. There are definite differences between the thrash bands as well. This is obviously a time when metal was not oversaturated and genres were neither ridiculously vague nor incredibly rigid. Perez has also included some great liner notes with details about each band, where the members ended up (if anyone knows), where the recordings were done (if anyone can recall) and some of the bigger shows they were involved in. I particularly enjoyed the speed metal lead off track by Sentinel as well as the more traditional leanings of Baron Steele. The talent and heart is obvious in all of these bands and for some it’s a real shame that they didn’t make it past demo stage. Not one of them though makes you shake your head and say, ‘no wonder they’ve never been heard of’. The bands are all quite good and could have made a bigger name for themselves ‘if only’.

Time and circumstances are not always kind to metal, and this archive is a fantastic look at those who were left behind in the Texas underground metal scene of the 1980’s. I can’t wait for Volume 2!

(Brainticket Records)

Rating: 8.5

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.