There was a time before the Bay Area thrash explosion where bands were playing fairly fast without it actually being what we now consider thrash metal. Acts like Exciter, Agent Steel, Attacker and even Razor were surely speedy and had the rudiments of thrash in place, but are now referred to as speed metal. Belgian upstarts Evil Invaders look to plant their flag right at the junction between speed and thrash, and tip their hand by using Razor‘s best known ditty as their moniker. Their Pulses of Pleasure debut is chock full of wild, frantic riffing with the NWoBHM/classic metal flavor that many speed metal acts had in spades in the early 80s. Their music is often inspired, energetic and memorable with an undeniable and infectious exuberance, but there’s a major glitch that throws a considerable wrench in the machinery.
Opener “Fast, Loud n’ Rude” tells you everything you need to know about these retro flamethrowers. It’s an unhinged blend of Wolf‘s over-the-top ethos and the tongue-in-cheek style of Mortillery and the riffs are a big bundle of fun. The wild solo trade offs are impossible to ignore and so insanely metal they should be encased in bronze, stuck in a time capsule and launched into deep space. Their entire sound will remind you of a million bands you liked at one time or another and it’s an amusing mix.
Then we get to the hiccup: The vocals of singer/guitarist Jöe Anüs. He’s the definition of a love or hate kind of singer, and while he certainly gives it his all (and then some), there’s a reason he appears chained in all the band photos, as he’s a certifieable lunatic, combining the worst characteristics of Martin Walkyier (Sabbat), Dave Bower (Hell), Larry Portelli (Blessed Death) and Jon Cyris (Agent Steel). He spends most of the album trying to overwhelm the listener with a pornicopia of snarls, roars, chirps and ear-splitting screams. He’s gifted to be sure, and when you first hear him, you’ll be like, “wow,” but soon enough, you’ll be like, “whoa, dude.” Likely believing moderation is for posers, he badly overdoes the madman routine, taking a lot of the attention off the badass music and occasionally righteous compositional acumen. Solid songs like the title track are rife with top-notch, ear-catching riff and solo work (especially from 3:35 onward), but I often find myself wanting to smack Mr. Anüs with a rolled up newspaper telling him to pick a fookin voice and stick with it.
Vocal diarrhea aside, there are some tasty riffs here, like the very Maiden-esque lead that runs throughout “Stairway to Insanity,” which I know I’ve heard before, but just can’t place, and the classic Holy Terror-like riff lines in “Eclipse of the Mind.”
Another issue with Pulses of Pleasure is the back-end, which is less consistent and mind blowing. By the time “Shot to Paradise” comes along, I find myself becoming tired of the insanity and mentally checking out. Subsequent songs like “Venom” feel weaker, repetitious and a bit more annoying. There’s also a nagging tendency to let songs run between 1-3 minutes too long, sometimes ruining the positive impression they make at the beginning. Even on a relatively short album like this, that can be a major issue.
Joe Anüs and Sam Lemmens are quite the raucous guitar tandem, and most of the riffs they uncork fall into the A and B+ category. The solos are particularly sweet and silly in that pure metal way we all love. They have a real ear for the 80s speed metal sound and manage to bring it into the modern age without ruining the nostalgia for old timers like me. The band as a whole is tight as hell, and they could do some really big things someday with a properly chillaxed front man.
Evil Invaders have talent and a lot of moxie, but they need to work on their editing and find a reliable sedative for Mr. Anüs before they can reach the next tier of retro glory. Definitely a fun band and one to watch, and I’m hoping a little muzzling goes a long way in the future. Grrrrwoof!