Once upon a midnight dreary, while I wandered drunk and bleary, through the dank lower levels of AMG HQ, one of the barely-not-a-n00bs happened to witness me hauling Leathürbitch‘s debut from the deep muck of the promo sump. As he watched me struggling to peel off the lampreys and scum maggots tenaciously affixed to the promo’s outer casing, the presumptuous pleb unhelpfully volunteered, “That’s not how you spell “leather,” you know.” “Eh,” I grunted, “they put an umlaut over the “u” so it’s okay.” That should have been that, but the greenhorn persisted. “That doesn’t make any difference. It’s still spelled wrong.” Having neither the time nor interest in explaining the finer points of metal technical writing, I retorted with a friendly ape shove into the brackish slime instead. By the time the hapless neophyte extricated himself from the sludge and underwent the extensive decontamination protocols (wire brush scrub downs included), he learned a valuable life lesson and I was back in my office, well into my third spin of Into the Night. What I learned was that the album is very short (32-plus minutes) and Leathürbitch are clearly enamored with the early 80s metal sound as well as the proto-speed metal era.1 They’re also determined to marry these sub-genres, which leads to an odd mix of early Motley Crüe and Bitch with faster acts like Mötörhead and Savage Grace. Add in a tendency to sing about their cocks, and you have quite the suspicious package ready for TSA inspection. If you hear something, say something.
After a painfully 80s intro, the damaged goods get dumped on your porch courtesy of the ramshackle but fun speed-lite of “L.U.S.T.” which stands for “living under shadow of temptation.” This thing really sounds like some lost, unreleased cut from Savage Grace, with a production note-perfect for the era, though a bit muddy overall. Joel Star’s vocals are way louder than the backing music, and his clean delivery is decent but not overly forceful. The song is zippy but catchy enough to digest on first listen, and that’s what the band seems to be aiming for. “I Want What You Got” is straight up cock rocking hair metal with a speed metal edge jammed in, which results in a mindless but mildly amusing throwback anthem. “Sleaze City” is more of the same, held aloft by speedy harmonies and riffs, and a simple chorus you could imagine early Van Halen using to better effect. You won’t be stunned by anything here, but you’ll likely find it amusing enough to leave on.
The band’s attempts at full-fledged speed metal numbers like “L.U.S.T.” and “Killing the Silence” are decent, though in both cases they let things run too long, creating a feeling of tedium on the back-end of otherwise entertaining rompers. They do show they can manage a good NWoBHM rocker, as “I’m Insane” is the album highlight, full of ballsy riffs and nostalgic nods to the likes of Satan and Diamond Head. Sadly, “The Search” is let down by irritating vocal lines and closer “Killer Instinct” is a weak number that reminds me of Keel or, heaven forbid, Raven‘s infamous Stay Hard era. This grinds the back-half of Into the Night to halt and makes me concerned the band couldn’t cobble together enough quality material for a 32 minute barely-LP.
Musical shortcomings aside, I’m a fan of the guitar-work of Pat Sandiford and Alex Ponder. They take the listener on a short but sharp journey through the early 80s as they dip their toes in classic, hair and speed metal and try to make them all coalesce. They find some catchy harmonies along the way and their solos are very 80s and bombastic. Joel Star is a respectable frontman capable of hitting those crushed scrotum high notes, though he mostly lives in a non-confrontational mid-range. His biggest problem is that his voice lacks real oomph and punch. He needs to project more venom and power to really put the material over properly.
Into the Night is a fun but nonessential listen from a band that has potential. If they can tighten up their writing, they could be a reliable member of the ever growing throwback brigade. They certainly have the sound. Now they just need consistent tunes. Do not go quietly into that good night, Leathürbitch, but instead do some focused night writing. Nüff said.