Shok Paris – Full Metal Jacket Review

Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! There’s a new Shok Paris album floating in the glop and gunk of the promo sump! Truly no one saw that coming because Shok Paris was a blip on the 80s metal radar, managing three albums that were decent but definitely low second-tier in the grand scheme of things. They’re most famous (and I use that term loosely here) for the over-the-top vocals of frontman, Vic Hix. The man sounded like Blackie Lawless hopped up on discount Super Soldier Formula and 5 Hour Energy while trying to channel Danzig and Messiah Marcolin simultaneously. The band is also notable for the big league screw job I.R.S. Records gave them when they took the master of their sophomore release, Steel and Starlight and completely rejiggered it without the band’s knowledge or consent, ultimately releasing a bastardized version they didn’t like or support.1 This massive artistic slight was corrected some 28 years later when Shok Paris released the original version of the album, but by then how many people still remembered or cared? The last proper studio release from these cats came out in 1988 when Steel was but a meatheaded college ne’er-do-well, so you know this act has mothballs and cobwebs where their majestical hair once was. But hey, they still have Vic Hix to fall back on, so how does Full Metal Jacket sound? Just like it’s still 1985, baby cakes.2 Their style still smacks of Lizzy Borden, Obsession and Pretty Maids and Vic somehow still packs enough noise for a party of ten. The best things never go out of style.

This is a straight ahead 80s metal thingamabob, with burly traditional riffs under-girding the lusty howling and yowling of Mr. Hix. The songs are all short and full of hard rock idioms amped up to metal levels. The title track is an anthemic fist pumper that could have come out in the days of Keel and Y&T but packs bigger balls and attitude. It’s catchy and sufficiently rowdy, setting the tone for what’s to come as one simple stomper after another assails your gentle sensibilities. None of them will go down as a 2020 high point, but none are bad either. I enjoy that they titled a song “Metal on Metal” in direct opposition to Anvil‘s legendary anthem of the same name, and if Anvil could afford legal representation, Shok Paris would surely receive a nasty letter via certified mail. “Brothers in Arms” is an ode to bromance in the same wheelhouse as most Manowar numbers, and its delivery recalls Alestorm‘s half-assed folk antics in amusingly sloppy ways that I enjoy more than I should.

Oddly enough, most of the best tracks reside on the album’s back-half. Both “Black Boots” and “Hell Day” are testicles to the walls 80s-style burners with rough n’ ready riffage and fiery vocals. The album closes out well too, with the catchy, upbeat aggression of “Fall from Grace” and the righteous sea shanty “Symphony of the Sea,” which sounds like it was swiped from Alestorm or Running Wild in true pirate fashion. If forced to pick a worst in show, it would be “Those Eyes” which is a bit awkward and muddled.

The wonder here is how well Vic Hix’s vocals have held up over the long years. While he isn’t quite as insanely bombastic as he was in the 80s, I’d still hesitate to call him restrained and controlled. His delivery is still larger than life with a slight hint of hair metal cheese, and he can still bring the power, at times even reminding me of Nasty Ronnie of the late, great Nasty Savage. Original guitarist, Ken Erb and newer addition, John Korzekwa lay down some beefy, raucous riffs and give the songs plenty of gasoline and moonshine to run on. Their attack mostly revolves around classic metal tropes, including Maiden-esque harmonizing, which is expected and it works just fine. They strictly avoid overly flashy wanking, saving it for the solos, and those feature the right amount of metallic excess.

Full Metal Jacket is hardly essentially listening, but I’m pleased to see these old goats back in action and this thing really grew on me with repeated spins. Shok Paris is just about the ultimate underdog story and this is a fun comeback steeped in nostalgia. They’ll never make it big, but it should be satisfying for them to have outlasted the record label that was so intent on screwing them over. Keep on rocking and shocking those damn Parisians!

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: No Remorse
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 29th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I.R.S. later screwed the band yet again by going with cover art for their Concrete Killers album that Shok Paris hated. It seems I.R.S. Records sucked every bit as much as the real I.R.S.
  2. And how about that album cover, huh folks? That’s pure 80s sexploitation at its finest.
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