Monday, July 5, 2010

Adrian - One Step Into the Uncertain (1987)

Adrian were another of many budding hopefuls during the German explosion of the 80s, performing a traditional brand of power metal that drew on NWOBHM influences and their own countrymen like Accept, but from the sounds of their sole album, which would not even score a record deal during the signing spree of that era, they must have been somewhere amidst the bottom rungs of the latter. That's not to say the album One Step Into the Uncertain is really all that offensive or unforgivably awful in execution, with the possible exception of the so-laughable-it-should-be-iconic cover art, but it's really just sub par on so many levels that its pretty easy to contemplate how it was overlooked in such a grandiose crowd of bands like Running Wild, Rage, Helloween, and the like.

A tentacled spider-beast guarding its hatching eggs from a blonde hesher with a handgun? Are you fucking serious? Didn't your kid brother have any pictures of dragons or spaceships available? Well, fortunate for us that Adrian's music is a little bit better than their aesthetic eye for packaging, but the production on the album doesn't do it much justice. Vocalist Oliver Wende has a pretty typical Germanic English slant on his vocals for the time, capable of 2 decent ranges but wavery at best, with a decay that seems to teet off key more than once. This is not much of a distraction, since it's often an endearing trait for European metal of the 80s. The drums pop along with simple rock beats that don't deliver much power to the average melodic guitar licks, and the bass is also a fairly minimal contribution.

"Reach the Sun" is a pretty stock mix of Iron Maiden melodies and mid-paced, plugging Judas Priest rhythm guitars which never rises above muster, despite the tapping intro and the uplifting vocals. "The King is Born Again" has more of a dirty groove to it, and I didn't mind the chorus so much, though the verse vocals border on awkward and the pumping bass is just not enough to mask them. "Love Dies in a Painful Way" sounds like a first round loser from the 'Want to Write a Scorpions Rock Song?' competition, with truly mediocre vocals. At least "The White Death" has some speed to it, sounding a lot like a crude, earlier Running Wild track minus the catchy flair of Rock'n'Rolf which could immortalize it. Still, one of the better tunes here.

Speaking of Running Wild, the band once again forms a parallel with the "Prelude/Never Again", a fairly entertaining bit of rampant melodic speed metal. Since the band's name is Adrian, I have to wonder just how much of a connection, or influence these guys had with their vastly superior German masters. "South Africa" continues this trend in spots, but it's largely a piece of drivel with a few standout riffs that would be better served elsewhere. The melodic power ballad "Dreamer" attempts to close the album, and I'm assuming the band's career, and Wende gives what might be his most solid vocal performance, but the selection of chords is pretty weak, so once again we're dependent on the moody, bluesy Scorpions guitars to carry us. They can't.

One Step Into the Uncertain is an understandably forgotten record which no more than a few dozen people would remember on a clear day, the memory unburdened with more pressing issues, and thus it's hardly in danger of seeing some revival in interest. I personally love combing the depths of obscurity to find worthwhile metal, especially in the classic categories of European power, traditional or thrash metal, but this album simply stinks whenever it deviates from shoddy Running Wild worship, and the two acceptable songs "The White Death" and "Never Again" are hardly stellar. Now, I've heard worse than the brief legacy of Adrian, and this is not the kind of suck that you scream out towards the world with an upturned nose. The stink is not so pervasive, but it's probably best to take it out to the trash anyway lest anyone but the starved vermin catch a draft of it.

Verdict: Fail [4/10]

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