MAZO, Mazo (1982, Mercury)
Anything wearing a biker cap is setting itself up for gay jokes, so I won’t go there. This skull is trying so hard to be bad-ass, not just the cap but that look of near-madness in his eyes and the cig dangling from his mouth. Like, “I’ll smoke as much as I want to…I’m already dead.” The rest of the album cover has a color and design scheme that could ONLY come from some third-rate ’80s European metal band…or some new hipster band out of southern California co-opting this very aesthetic without really giving much of a fuck about real metal beyond maybe Iron Maiden…Saxon if they’re really digging deep. But I digress. I’m gonna guess Mazo sounds like a scrappy Krokus. Ah shit, I can’t help it: this skull looks flaming-ass gay.
Okay, these Spaniards are no Krokus. It’s hardly metal, actually — certainly no more metal than the punky pub-rock that sometimes passes for metal in the NWOBHM realm. Nah, this is more like Ramones meets Motorhead meets generic late ’70s hard rock meets some semi-melodic Spanish pop-punk band (I don’t know a single Spanish punk rock band, so I can’t name names). It’s very energetic, totally upbeat and bright, and a whole lot of fun if you’re into carefree, intentionally one-dimensional rock/punk. Occasionally there’s a melodic guitar line that’s somewhat in tune with the Judas Priest/Iron Maiden trad-metal vibe (“Has Cambiado”) or a riff that gets a bit more dark and serious (the last half of “Depresion” is pretty cool), so I can understand how Mazo ended up appealing to metalheads, especially in 1982, and I’ll give ’em a pass there. But as well-played as this is, and well-sung too, I can’t get into it. They’re just so damn jolly-sounding. What’s their deal, don’t they know there are huge problems to shout about in this world? Wasn’t the Iran/Contra scandal happening around this time? The Star Wars anti-missile defense system? What about all that? Mazo didn’t give a fuck. Pretty sure I would have taken a chance on this as a 12-year-old in 1982, since it has a skull on the cover, but I probably would have been disappointed even back then.
— Friar Wagner