REACTOR - THE REAL WORLD - SHADOW KINGDOM
Ah, one of those vintage nostalgia records that are now unearthed courtesy of Shadow Kingdom Records. The band took me by surprise. The band is so obscure and the name so typecast that one could only have little hope. How could this band be anything but third-rate? Yet, there is a nostalgic and compelling feeling as one listens to it. The Real World (which at one point was the band’s name) takes one straight back to 1983 and the sounds of early Saxon mixed with Euro metal acts a la Crossfire or Killers, basically everything that Mausoleum Records used to release. Except the band was only formed in 1983 and hailed from Maryland. Maryland? Ha.
The recording stems from 1987 and is augmented by bonus live songs recorded at Silver Fox in Virginia in 1985. One gets to hear early versions of several of the studio songs. Sound-wise, the band is more 1985 than 1987, but that only adds to the longevity and vintage feel of it all now in 2010. It’s heavy metal that ventures into harsh power metal a la the '80s. The lyrics are the best part. They could have easily been written last year or this. The band had a progressive and enlightened point-of-view that is in short supply nowadays. Back then metal meant deviation from the mainstream.
Lyrics or not though, tracks like Meltdown (how appropriate) and War Machine are a hoot and worth a listen or two for older fans and those into what the older fans used to listen to. Album opener Meltdown begins with a Diamond Head riff, (When Your) Number’s Up begins with an old Manowar strum while Greenhouse begins with a standard issue glam tinge. Check it out and let me know. - Ali “The Metallian”