Friday, January 21, 2011

Risk - The Daily Horror News (1988)

Risk is one of the rare cases of a classic metal band finding successful new life with a change of identity and style. From 1967-1985, they released six full-length albums as Faithful Breath, evolving from hard rock roots to a heavier style more typical of their day, before they decided they would partake in the faster, speed/thrash scene that Germany was very well known for by the mid 80s. Rather than drag their original vision through the mud, they adopted the name Risk, which surprisingly hadn't been taken by anyone important in the metal universe. The Daily Horror News was born, the first and still best effort under this new visage, despite the lamentable cover art which makes...only a strange kind of sense with the title.

No, this is not fucking Donkey Kong metal, but a work of memorable velocity and impressive songwriting which immediately placed the band among peers like Rage, Scanner, Helloween and Running Wild. It's primarily speed/power metal, but there are moments where they bite down a little harder for some thrash. The band's classic metal riffing influence obviously goes a long way towards making each track distinct and full to the brim with hooks, but I'd also point out the vocals of Heinz Mikus, which sound like a mix of Rock'n'Rolf Kasparek and the silky, grimier tones often adopted by Andi Deris through his work with Helloween. I thoroughly enjoy his performance here, with the same wonderful reverb common to Running Wild records from from the 1984-1989 period, and it's damn well consistent. You've just got to survive a moment of jungle beasts and radio samples to carve out the coconuts within...

"Living in Chaos" is the first layer of flaky white goodness, a speed jaunt that sounds strikingly similar to something that might occur of Kasparek were fronting Rage. "Roadwar", however, is one of the best tracks on the album, pretty much a pure power metal number which once again sounds like a particular pirate metal outfit of this period. Gang shouts, uproarious riffs, and fluid lethality all build into a superb chorus. They slow the pace for "DNS Madness", which I assume refers to one of the acids involved with possible cloning, but it's still got hooks aplomb, even the predictable chorus delivers. "Revolution Now", "Rommes Fritz" and "Speed Kills" ramp up the intensity, and I'm particularly enamored of the lead sequences in "Rommes Fritz", and "Strike" and the bonus track "Violent Science" are both likewise remarkable, the latter hitting a nice hard thrash pace through the verses.

The Daily Horror News had a lot to contend with in 1988, and perhaps this is the reason so few have actually heard of the band or album. Running Wild's Port Royal and Rage's Perfect Man both came out the same year, and both are unreal (two of my favorite albums ever), so that might explain why it was left in the dust, but this debut absolutely deserves mention alongside them, a trinity of German 'R' bands hauling ass with the best material of their careers, all within a short span of time. The mix here simply slays, still sounding fresh and bright over 20 years later, and the individual performances here are all noteworthy. But what is most magnificent is that an already established band (in Europe at least) were able to undergo a transition like with this dignity and class, retiring their prior identity instead of molesting it. Whether Risk ever got the credit they deserved is up for debate, but if you're a metalian of taste, acquire this record however possible. It is that good.

Verdict: Epic Win [9/10] (no speed limit at all)

No comments: