ANGUISH FORCE, RRR 1988-1997 (2009, My Graveyard Productions)
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: give us something we can use!!! This is about as basic as it gets, and we’ve seen it many times: white skull ‘n’ crossbones on a black background. But that’s the business we’re in here at BDS, and if it gets too fancy the Council gets cranky, so we’ll take it! Notable is the sinister grin and leering eyes looking downward at the clunky album title. This skull looks like he’s up to absolutely no good. Please note that if you’re going to use the word “Force” in your band name, it seems ridiculous to the outside world to have the word “force” in such a small font. Not very forceful.
I can only find evidence of this Italian band releasing material since 1998, and in those early days as Anguish (they added the tiny “Force” later). But if they’re telling us they’ve been around since 1988, I guess we have to believe them. The stuff all sounds very modern in production, so I’m guessing some of these songs were conceived by one of the guys back when we was 13 years old and they finally recorded them once they had a few official albums under their belt. No idea why this collection’s title is preceded by “RRR.” Nevertheless, there are 12 songs here, including Uriah Heep and Grave Digger covers (“Sympathy” and “Heavy Metal Breakdown,” respectively, although you could probably guess that Uriah Heep never wrote a song called “Heavy Metal Breakdown”). Their originals are pedestrian speed/power metal, in the vein of, but less than the German bands who popularized this approach — you can hear Helloween in here, and even a more obscure band like Attack. It’s okay, very well-played, just not conceived by visionaries or anything. As with many Italian metal bands, the vocals suffer due to a strong and not particularly attractive accent. And, yet again, we have an example of the album cover reflecting the band’s own musical laziness. With titles like “Fire From Hell,” “Death in Hell,” “Priest of War,” “The Witch of the Castle” and “Heroes of Metal,” you probably won’t be surprised to know that much of their material is interchangeable. Stock, stocky and stockiest riffs galore. You have to appreciate the longevity, though, whether they got their start in 1995 or way back in 1988. (You know, Voivod put out Dimension Hatross in 1988, which is apropos of nothing, I just wanted to write about a great band on this site for a second…)
— Friar Wagner