Despite six albums overall, Hanover’s THUNDERHEAD never really quite left the impression on the scene that they would have deserved. Fronted by American motormouth Ted “Bullet” Pulit the quartet had been belting out an energetic and balls-to-the-wall type of Heavy Metal that didn’t believe in frills or bombast or any of the likes, but were very down-to-earth.
Their 1993 album “Killing With Style” not only was my personal first contact with the band, but in my opinion still stands as their best effort, originally prompted by the great Andreas Marschall cover, which led me to check out the band and subsequently buy and love the album. Technically you could say that their style is fairly simple, because it is mostly straight and right between the eyes, but there are plenty of good and also at times pretty intricate riffs and solos that offset the in-your-face mentality, which to no small part comes from Bullet’s gruff voice and his very direct lyrics, in the end it all comes off as very efficient and while repeated listens will uncover details you may have missed before, this is useful for immediate ignition.
Opener “Young And Useless” is the perfect kickstart to this album, fast, energetic and powerful, and will stay stuck to your brain for quite some time to come and Pulit’s voice has as much street cred as the raunchy band sound, since it breathes cigarettes, whiskey and some other related stuff, which soon becomes one of the biggest characteristics of the THUNDERHEAD sound, if you haven’t been familiar with the Germans before. And when they pull out all stops is when the band seems to be the most effective, too, “Overload (More Than A Buck)”, “Save Me” or “Whips And Chains” fall into the same category of high-octane Rock/Metal that will get your blood pumping (and maybe kill your neighbour in style, you never know, consider yourself warned).
“8-Bald” is the oddball on “Killing With Style”, since even 18 years after hearing it for the first time, it still doesn’t work with me. Slow, groovy and somewhat viscous the lyrics are pretty much just a line of insults, which must have been some sort of therapeutic release for Pulit, so it must have served some higher purpose... But also when they approach things more mid-paced, as with “Just When I Try” and “Hard Times” or with the excellent semi-ballads “Movin’ On” and “Down In Desparation”, THUNDERHEAD’s fourth full-length fires on all cylinders and just convinces, all the way to the excellent Rick Derringer cover version “Loosen Up Your Grip”.
“Killing With Style” is a surely forgotten gemstone out there that is still standing the test of time, even though the younger generation probably has never even heard the name of THUNDERHEAD. If you know them, you’ll probably agree with what I wrote above, if you don’t and have a soft spot for energetic and in-your-face traditional Metal that does still contain enough substance to keep your attention and sink your teeth in, then by any means check out this album, it had been released via Massacre, so you might have a chance to still find it out there, it’s worth it!
(Online December 14, 2011)