SKULL449

MARK LOWREY, Rusty Mark in the Metal Palace (1985, self-released)

The skull:
When you think of Jack and the Beanstalk, you think about the giant up top, but did you ever stop to consider how fucking big those beans must have been? And if the race of giants cultivated giant legumes, they might well have also grown giant corn, and would probably have invented two prong cob holders so their giant children wouldn’t burn their fingers. To a terrestrial human, these might have looked like swords. Pictured on this album cover is one of the sad predecessors to Jack, who stumbled into the giant’s home sometime in late June, early July and was rather quickly impaled on a corn holder by some impetuous giant toddler. It’s a shitty way to go, no doubt.

The music:
Workmanlike U.S. metal of the sort that padded the space between the great tracks on the early Metal Massacre albums. Think Tyrant, Pandemonium, Thrust, that sort of thing. Totally boring, but accomplished enough that surely someone thinks this is a lost classic. Someone from Austria, probably. Someone with a lot of money, at least, because this album, when it shows up, sells for at least a couple hundred bucks. Go figure. The cover art and impossibly bad title made me suspect that this was some kind of Metal Enterprises quickie release, but no, it appears that Mark Lowrey, a vocalist of no special skill, just really felt his work needed to be heard, so he pressed these up himself. No one from the backing band ever did anything else, but considering there are not one but two guys named “Rusty” in the lineup, I suspect that maybe some pseudonyms were used. If I were an L.A. session dude, I certainly wouldn’t want to be associated with Mark Lowrey. I have a certain fondness for plodding early metal like this (I own 3rd Stage Alert on CD, for fuck’s sake), but even by my relaxed standards this is dull stuff, like Twisted Sister without a sense of humor (and Dee Snider). That most of these songs are about or even include “metal” in the title is just an additional kick in the balls. Lowrey deserves some special award for his lack of irony, though: “Unsung Song” is not an instrumental, and the album’s instrumental is titled “Purple Pyramid.” That’s the kind of brilliant nonsense that no snarky reviewer could make up on his own.
— Friar Johnsen

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