MARK EDWARDS, Code of Honor (1985, Metal Blade)

The skull:
“Warning: Drums Ahead”

The music:
It’s hard to imagine a less-essential release from 1985 than this four track instrumental EP from the drummer in Steeler. It’s not that it’s bad — it’s perfectly serviceable Shrapnel Records style shred stuff (like the filler tracks from Tony MacAlpine or Vinnie Moore) — but really, what’s the point? At least all those guitar hero albums were full of noodly solos, which hold their own appeal (I guess). It’s not like Code of Honor is a showcase for mindblowing drumming, and Edwards only claims a couple of songwriting credits, to boot. His playing is capable, maybe better than most metal dudes in 1985, but nothing more. He even ropes in another drummer (session dude Greg Bissonette) to play some ludicrously dated electronic drums on two tunes, the second being a cover of Cozy Powell’s “Dance With the Devil,” which is itself basically just a drum-centric rewrite of Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun”. Edwards would later enjoy some hairy success in Lion (and in fact, the only CD release of Code of Honor is a 2-for-1 with Lion’s debut EP), but he peaked artistically on Riot’s Thundersteel; Edward tracked four songs for that album before Bobby Jarzombek joined the band. And actually, the 3rd Stage Alert EP released in 1984 is pretty good, too. So, I suppose you could say that Mark Edwards is the Drummer King of half albums, but that’s really not saying much, is it? And of his half albums, this one is maybe the fourth best? Praise comes no fainter.
— Friar Johnsen