SLAUTER XSTROYES - "Free the Beast" - 4.5/5
Having released a cult debut album in 1985 called "Winter Kill" that struck a chord with many heavy metal fans, the 1987 follow-up album didn't make much of a splash because it wasn't released.
Well okay, it was shelved for well over a decade until it was issued in 1999. All that matters is that it -was- released, and it fucking kills. Taking off after their debut they don't sound too far from MERCYFUL FATE at their peak, and this time around SLAUTER XSTROYES are more aggressive incorporating some thrash elements here and there. The complexity has risen, there's even a bass solo early in "Wicked Bitch" that wouldn't be out of place on ATHEIST's "Unquestionable Presence." But the real standout here are John Stewart's massive vocals, sounding at this point sounding like the bastard child of King Diamond and CIRITH UNGOL's Tim Baker.
It should be noted that only the first six tracks of this release are the actual second album. The remaining tracks are various unreleased studio whatevers that the band found under their piles of band shirts and empty boxes of Kraft Dinner. They're a nice little bonus, with songs spanning their entire career including some of their earliest recordings in 1981. They're all good listens, although some tracks are incomplete with raw production and no vocals and are probably going to be most appreciated by die-hard fans.
Fans of MERCYFUL FATE will enjoy this. Although the blatantly Satanic image is absent from this album there's a sinister feel to this, all thanks to the ominous guitar riffs of blazing songs like "Syncopated Angel" along with Stewart's ungodly howls. Highly recommended.
By F. Lancelot.
(P.S. Since no rating was given, I issued one based on this review).