In late September, I attended the second day of a small two-day festival in Seattle called Eliminator Fest. I got a chance to see thrash legends Morbid Saint play their classic album Spectrum of Death in its entirety and got to see two bands that I’ve grown to love through reviewing them this year in Bewitcher and Witch Vomit1. But perhaps the most exciting aspect was discovering a few bands that I’d never even heard of before—a couple of whom you may hear more about if we run an EP feature this year. As fun as it was, I was saddened to learn that by skipping the first day, I’d missed a performance by the band that I find myself covering today: Olympia, Washington’s Quayde LaHüe. After spending time with their debut album Love out of Darkness, I’m vowing to catch them live at some point, because these guys and gal kick some serious olde school ass.
Quayde plays a righteous version of 70s hard rock that has geographical and stylistic ties to Heart, but they also incorporate some heavy metal elements that will bring Thin Lizzy, early Judas Priest, and the solo works of Ozzy and Dio to mind. Jenna Fitton is the band’s sonic focal point and she paradoxically imbues the record with power through a relatively restrained vocal performance. You can feel her aggression as she tells tales of empowerment and avenging abuse and harassment, but she also adds a touch of shakiness at times that works really well and demonstrates that strength sometimes manifests itself through vulnerability. Guitarists Johnny Wulf, Tim Diedrich, and bassist Reuben W. Storey played together in Christian Mistress, and they’re joined by Max Bowman, a man whose work I recently covered in a review of Olympia’s Mortiferum. With so many experienced Northwest players, it’s no surprise that Love out of Darkness is completely loaded with Hearty riffs, hooks, and harmonies, and it makes for a fun listen from front to back.
Embedded track “Man in the Purple Robe” was a great choice for a single. With an urgent, driving rhythm, the song sees Fitton hinting at The Cranberries‘ Dolores O’Riordan as she walks us through a disturbing tale while the guitarists play Thin Lizzy-style harmonies and leads that would feel at home on Priest‘s Sin After Sin. Quayde channels their inner Dio on “Warrior” and somehow manages to delve into Nirvana territory without it feeling out of place on the alternative rocker “Before the Storm.” “Widowmaker” is a satisfying revenge fantasy that ends with a fantastic solo and one of Fitton’s most passionate vocal performances, while short interlude “Fallout” ushers in the doomy traditional metal anthem “It Still Burns,” a highlight of the record. “Right to Rock” closes the 38 minutes out in hard rocking fashion, and as it fades, you’ll feel compelled to play the whole album again.
Love out of Darkness sounds fantastic. While I can never really tell if a band needs three guitarists or not, all of the performances sound organically old school and are perfectly mixed, with Storey’s bass given plenty of room to shine behind and between the guitars. You’re not going to find any innovation or groundbreaking elements emanating from Quayde LaHüe (aside from the powerful lyrical themes, that is), but who the hell cares when they do old school things so well? There’s not a single weak track to be found here, and “Man in the Purple Robe,” “Warrior,” “Widowmaker,” and “It Still Burns” are especially killer.
I’ve found out about a lot of cool bands that are local to me this year, and Love out of Darkness finds Quayde LaHüe adding themselves to the list. Their combination of several different strains of retro rock and metal have resulted in one of the coolest, most fun records I’ve heard this year and it’s highly recommended for old and new fans of old things. The promo blurb stole my opportunity for a great dad joke, so I’ll share it here: “Quayde La-Who?! Quayde LaHüe.” That’s who.