Death Alley - Black Magick Boogieland 01Being of the ‘80s thrash generation, I was born a few years too late to experience the actual birth of metal first hand. As a result, I have had to seek out that old-school sound and those pioneers of what we now know as “metal.” Though it took me years to get over the fact that these bands aren’t “heavy” enough (I was a brainless twerp of a child), I have found that I spend a lot of time listening to these old classics since discovering them. You know, those bands that first fused psychedelic rock and ripping solos into basic, bluesy chops; resulting in humdingers like Captain Beyond’s Captain Beyond, Uriah Heep’s Demons and Wizards, Motörhead’s Overkill, and Blue Öyster Cult’s Agents of Fortune. Set the needle to any of these originals purchased from used record stores at two bucks a pop and I am set for life. “Proto-metal,” as some call it, lives in the ’60s and ‘70s, but every once in awhile a band comes along that captures that same old-school charm. While Ghost BC, In Solitude, and Trial relive the second phase of this sound (á la Mercyful Fate), Amsterdam’s Death Alley back up to those early conceptions of metal. So, if you’re an old fart and long for those days of psychedelic “cowbell rock,” Black Magick Boogieland may just be your ticket.

Following the demise of The Devil’s Blood, guitarist Oeds Beydals set out to punk-up proto-metal with some Lemmy leather and back-alley Amsterdam antics. Debut Black Magick Boogieland stays true to the proto-metal style but with an added flare of modernism. Opener “Over Under” and the title track are a good representations of the shenanigans about to ensue, with characteristic mild distortion, bassy pop, groovy riffs, and a bonus rough-around-the-edges vocal delivery full of brooding punk character. It’s a straight-up delivery that won’t knock you on your ass, but it feels familiar and – for many – nostalgic. This description can pretty much sum up Black Magick Boogieland in its entirety.

Of course, no album of this style would be complete without those rock-out-with-your-cock-out jammers in the form of the Motörhead-like “Fever” and and the Captain Beyond-meets­-Cream “Golden Fields of Love.” These hard-rocking, head-knocking numbers are meant for the basement; where kids’ rebellions feed, and white-collars are replaced with leather and neckties are swapped for “fuck you” attitudes. The blues licks are stomping in the former and the psychedelia is abundant in the latter. All instruments are present and accounted for and the distortion is just cranked far enough beyond yesteryear that if old Dr. Johnny Fever ever possessed a copy of Black Magick Boogieland, he’d surely get canned.

Death Alley - Black Magick Boogieland 02

Oh yeah. Remember my jab at the infamous percussive element known as the “cowbell?” Well, it’s here too. Check out “Stalk Eyed” for your cowbell fix before you head out to the garage in search of your warped copy of Agents of Fortune. Which, as you discover, has been used for years as a parking place for little Tommy’s bicycle. You have only yourself to blame, dude. From here, the catchiness and fun only continue with the foot-tapping, head-swaying, feel-good choruses of “Dead Man’s Bones” and closer “Supernatural Predator.” Along with a chorus that refuses to leave your skull, the twelve-minute closer stands out as the jam-session junky on the album. It’s bassy, spacey, and intoxicating with some midpoint atmospheres that feel like Pink Floyd, even if the delivery is not as expertly executed and the length makes it redundant and lacking memorability.

Bottom-line? These Dutch bastards know how to have a good time with a style only accessible via a time machine and they do a pretty damn good job of executing it. With that said, there really isn’t anything Black Magick Boogieland has to offer that hasn’t already been done by bands that not only laid the ground work years ago, but did it better. If anything I hope metalheads unfamiliar with the sound of yore will find Black Magick Boogieland a gateway drug to the past. For those with tight-fitting leather jackets that have had their share of “getting around,” perhaps Death Alley will give you that sense of familiarity and comfort that you lost the moment you got a real job. So, have a party and crank this up. And if anybody complains about the noise, beat the shit out of them [with a limited edition AMG Pet Rock™Steel Druhm].


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Tee Pee Records
Websites: DeathAlleyOfficial | Facebook.com/DeathAlley
Release Dates: EU: 2015.06.05 | NA: 05.19.2015

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  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    I like this. There’s always a market for retro sounding metal / hard rock and that’s because it’s just enjoyable as heck. Dated as it may be, it’s too fun to pass up on. This band delivers!

    Oh and that album cover…
    thank mr skeltal

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    This kind of stuff is best when it isn’t taken too seriously. Seeing both the title and a skeleton double fisting beers with three new friends from the Red Light District had me excited enough, but after reading the (awesome) review and hearing the track I’m sold. This will make a great soundtrack for upcoming shenanigans.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Agreed. The shenanigans be plentiful here. You’ll definitely enjoy this.

  • Good shit! Well meaning and enjoyable fun stuff.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Nice review. Maybe we should have an “Essential Proto-Metal Recordings” topic in the forum. I’m sure I’m missing out on a lot of past greats.

    And you had me at “cowbell”.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thanks very much. Yeah, there are some great albums out there. I listed some classics here but also these are some of my absolute favorites.

      I was hoping the cowbell would work…

  • Let’s see, cheesy near-amateur cover, no-nonsense band shot, and cowbell you say? All it’s missing is Mr. Walken with an approving smile and two thumbs up. I’ll give it a spin for sure. Nice review!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thank you, sir. It’s fun so definitely check it out.

  • BarryLeFreak

    I can bludgeon with terrible certainty knowing that my AMG Pet Rock ™ is ethically sourced, organic, gluten and preservative free local Hard Rock. Thanks AMG!

  • This band loosely reminds me of Diamond Head. I know Diamond Head is well known, partially due to Metallica covering almost all of their songs, but their first album, either called the White Album, or Lightning to the Nations depending on who you ask, is a quality slab of 70s proto-metal. Even the songs like Am I Evil or Helpless which are well known Metallica live-staples stand on their own as original songs. I like the whole album and maybe one day, someone can do a “Yer Metal is REALLY Olde” review of that one.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Oooooooo interesting idea. I own and LOVE Lightning to the Nations. It is a solid album and gets its fair share of spins on my end. Now that you mention it, there is some DH in this.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I heartily support this suggestion!
      Helpless gets into my top 5 Metallica songs…but Ive never heard the original madness…

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        You must here it!