The late 90s was a period where a lot of attempted resurrections by 80s Metal bands, iconic and cultic alike, succeeded in ushering a renaissance for the less extreme sectors of the genre. But like any revolution, you have those soldiers who get killed off right when hostilities break out and are left forgotten. This somewhat botched attempt by Willie Basse to revive the cult of BLACK SHEEP is marred not so much by a lack of energy or determination, but by an utter inability to be in any way distinctive from the throngs of other bands, many of whom were younger and more willing to take risks.
The musicians recruited for this EP to backup Basse are up to the task, in fact I’d argue Marshall Harrison and Brian Conroy do a fairly decent job of emulating YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and PAUL GILBERT, but what they are soloing on top of is fairly dull and predictable. “Someone Like You” is repetitive, plodding, and bare enough to almost listen like something put together by SOUNDGARDEN or even NIRVANA. Basse’s vocal work is more Rock than it is Power Metal, which is what this EP seems to be attempting to emulate, almost like Axel Rose trying to sing to BLACK SABBATH’S “Heaven And Hell”.
In regards to that specific album, the opening song on here “Love Is Not Enough” sounds frighteningly similar to “Neon Knights”, but with about half as many differing riffs. They try to compensate with more intense soloing, and end up coming up with something fairly similar to what might be heard on FIREWIND’S first album. “Which Side Are You On” gets a little bit more original and throws in some really heavy riffs akin to a “Zero The Hero” meets “Into The Void”. It mixes a little better with Basse’s vocals, which sound a little closer to Ian Gillian than they do to Ronnie Dio.
The only song on here that consistently rocks out from beginning to end is “Love Warrior”. It rides some fairly simple ideas and stays within the standard format of writing a song, but the heaviness and the animated vocal work out of Basse play off each other much better. The bass work is at its raunchiest, and does a good job of putting a solid bottom end to the whole thing. They don’ try too hard, they simply put forth a few good ideas and then move on. They end things with this extended period of guitar feed back noise that segues into what I think is a Bach composition for organ, but I can’t recall the specific name.
Much like the only on vinyl cult classic that Basse put out in the 80s under this name, you won’t find a lot of people that know about this album, though there do seem to still be copies of it floating around on the internet still, mostly through second hard vendors. It’s not something that I’d bend over backwards to try and get my hands on if I didn’t already possess it and knew what it sounded like. If you want a better example of this sort of hybrid of Heavy and Power Metal, check out MARK BOALS’ second solo album “Ring Of Fire”, which also inspired the formation of a band by that same name who put out an additional 3 albums in a similar style, but with more keyboards.
(Online December 18, 2008)