First up is a bit of north jersey, from Jersey City (clever name, eh?) the band Gothic Slam. Formerly known as Stryker, with no notable releases aside from a demo in '86 that was passed out probably from home recorded cassettes. They reformed and changed their name in '87 to Gothic Slam, and relocated from Union City, NJ, to the aforementioned Jersey City, NJ. They were signed at first to Torrid Records (Who also had Mucky Pup(?), Tension, Hades, and Exodus for the album Bonded By Blood singed to them, but the label no longer exists), then for their second album, were signed to Roadracer Records, which has since changed its name, and had the parent label Roadrunner Records, which might sound more familiar. I'm not sure about any prominent tours they did, they might've been around NJ and Philly, but nothing I could find. They had only 2 studio albums including their first in 1988 entitled "Killer Instinct", and their second "Just A Face In The Crowd" (featured below), and that was it. They're not my favorite on this list, but i feel they make the cut, and I like to sit down and listen to them from time to time. Pretty decent production quality for a not so well known band. There are some solid and catchy riffs throughout. The vocals are decent, as well, although they hafta be the slight downside to me. Give it a listen if you haven't!
Faith or FearNow we're heading up in the ranks. This band is one of the first underground bands I got into when I first started listening to metal. I'm not sure how I came across them, probably the same way I did most bands I love now: Youtube. You know how it goes, you listen to some Vicious Rumors, you see all these awesome looking covers for band's albums on the side in the suggested area, and you listen to some of your future favorite for hours on end. I had heard "Punishment Area", and my first thought was "Punishment Area? Couldn't have thought of a better name? Sounds like where you tell your kids they're gonna end up when they draw a horse on the wall or something...". But then.... then I heard the opening riff to the first track on the album, the title track. It starts off with guitars, then the drums and bass come in. My pupils more than likely dilated, and I immediately wanted to hear more. The powerful vocals, the good drum work, the hammering solos. Shortly after hearing the title track, I listened to the whole album, then promptly looked up the record on ebay or discogs, and bought it. Now that I think about it, I couldn't get to a record store at the time, although I feel I might've found it if I went a little north to some flea markets, since they were from NJ, but alas, it came from the magik of the internet. Anyhow, it spun for hours and hours on my Dad's old record player, and eventually the record/cassette/CD player my Dad got me for my birthday (Thanks Pop!). It never seemed to get old for me, and still holds strong to this day. Quick side note: I asked Bobby Blitz if he liked them when I did a meet and greet for Kreator and Overkill (Yeah, I payed for that shit, don't judge me), and he replied "Yeeeeeah! I mean... it's not like we BBQed on the weekends or anything, but I like them! A shame about the bassist CJ." CJ was the bassist, and after their second reformation, he collapsed onstage unfortunately and passed away. They are marked as "still active" on metal archives, which is a website I use soley for info, they're dicks when it comes to submitting bands *cough cough* Blood Curse *loud angry cough* and writing reviews, for which i tried countless times, and had good form, and proper grammar, yet these assholes writing half asses reviews about how albums suck get okayed..... but ANYWAY... You know what? Check out Faith or Fear if you haven't. They are a good listen and worth your time, I believe and deserve more praise for their past contribution to metal. On a parting note, they had two full length albums, "Punishment Area" being the first, coming out in 1989, and another entitled "Titanium" which came out in 2012, both coming out on Lost and Found records, which seems to have a current roster of Faith or Fear.... and that's it. They had a few notable bands on them in the past such as Tokyo Blade, Forced Entry, Firehouse (keep the vomit down...), and Acid Reign, among others.
HadesHere is band that has to be my favorite on this list. I can safely say, I've even listened to them more than I have Faith or Fear. Obviously, not because I don't like Faith or Fear, seeing as how I put them on this short list, and have all that written up there, Hades just takes it up a few notches in my book. Same deal with how I came across them as how I found Faith or Fear, searching on the obscure side of youtube. The first opening notes of album "If at First You Don't Succeed..." were ingrained in my mind first thing.... the eerie guitar sets you up for the blistering riffs and absolute gold on drums, along with the icing on the proverbial cake: the vocals! Those of you familiar with Alan Tecchio, that's who is belting out these awesome lyrics. Yep! That dude that sang for Watchtower, and Seven Witches.... which you might see on here.... even next perhaps! You'll never know unless you keep reading or scroll down! Back to the matter at hand: Hades. After hearing the opening track "Opinionate!" I was hooked. Those drums always mezmorized me, later when I purchased the record (same way as "Punishment Area"), I found out the drummer Tom Coombs was a drum teacher in NJ at the time. If he were still around, I would definitely take lessons from him. Whereas I don't understand why the hell Dave Holland of Judas Priest had a drum school.... "Hey kids, here's how to hit the high hat, snare and kick in succession until the song is done. 300$ please". They lyrics are another thing I really enjoy from this band. They don't just play to play, they have a message, and i can definitely relate it to. A lot of their lyrical content is about how destructive and violent money can make people and has, that you should think for yourself, pretty much a "wake up and smell the flowers" kind of idea. Now, that's nothing new, but it's all in the presentation, and power of the music behind it, which all falls into place and hits hard with this album. Everything still rings true today, and has been one of the main albums I go back to countless times today. They have 6 full length albums, the one I'm speaking of being the second one to come out in 1988, the following records span throughout the years, the last one coming out in 2001. They're still on the same record label they've always been on: Metal Blade. So I say to you, check these guys out, because they are a powerhouse of hard hitting heavy metal from New Jersey that won't disappoint, and if they do, then... I don't care, I still think they're outstanding.
Seven WitchesSee? Just keep on reading, and you'll get to it... Oh... you scrolled down? ...Alright. Well, in any case let's get to it. Now I know I had mentioned Alan Tecchio was in this line-up at some point, but it's not until later in their carrer he showed up, as he did vocals from 2005-2007, and then from 2011-2012. So don't be saying "mmmm gurl where them Alan Tecchio vocals?!" when you listen to the song I link below, which come from their first album entitled "Second War In Heaven" from the futuristic year of 1999. The band Formed in 1998. I'm noticing a trend so far in all the bands I've listed... they're all christian and write about christian themed topics in their lyrics. What was in the NJ waters then? Not that there's anything wrong with that, just saying, you can still be Christian and not shove it in everyone's face and have awesome music to go along with it. Seven Witches writes about Christianity in their songs, among other topics, and make their message loud and clear from the unyeilding power in the vocals from Bobby Lucas, who sang for them from 1999-200, so a 2 year singing stint in Seven Witches. He didn't go on to do anything else to my knowledge, if you know of anything he did, let me know down there in the comments (*gasp* there's a comment section?!). Their singer changed up quite a bit from album to album, along with a few member changes, aside from who I am guessing is the founding member on guitars: Jack Frost, who also had a solo project called "Frost Bite". and played for "Poets and Madmen" tour for Savatage on a two year tour (that bit of info was provided by my awesome Husband Aaron). Johnny Kelly, their drummer at the current time was also in one of my favorite bands for a while, Danzig, along with a few others such as Type O-Negative, and Black Label Society. So he's seasoned in that aspect. Enough with being fed facts, how about the sound? If you are into classic power metal, this is definitely for you. The vocals are pure power, the riffs are aggressive, while still staying clean, and have an overall feel of maybe something of a Liege Lord feel to them combined with an almost Queensryche feel. If you'd like some catchy tunes that have power and purpose, give these guys a listen.
AttackerNow here is one that I know a lot of you know, but not sure if people know that they're from New Jersey. A lot of great things have come from New Jersey. I can honestly say I wasn't aware until not too long ago they were from New Jersey. I had listened to them a bunch previously, then found out and was pleasantly surprised. The album I've posted below is their first, hitting the scene in September 1985. There must have been some awesome shows back in the 80s in 'Jersey, because a lot of these bands were on Metal Blade records, as Attacker was on the first record "Battle At Helm's Deep" and seemed to jump from label to label on their albums in years to come. They finally settled on Metal on Metal Records from Italy. They are currently still with them, with their last release coming out in 2016. Now their debut one is the one that caught my eye, and ear, as it may have for many. The cover sticks in my head, and is the one I think of when Attacker is mentioned. It's a bit goofy with the guy fighting the... Dragon lizard thing's face looks a bit melted, but hey, I can't draw, so who am I to talk? Thankfully the record is infinitely better than the art on the cover. The vocals are unique to me in that they are strong while having a slight raspiness to them, while grabbing your attention til there is silence at the end of the album. The guitar is loud and proud with sharp clean solos, and qaulity drum work. They are one of the true 80s power metal bands, not what people think is power metal today: just shitty messy garbage riffs riddled with bad synth work. No, this is the meaning of power metal: it makes you want to stand up and shout... or at least picture that in your head, and it has a powerful sound, as I believe the meaning of power metal is. At any rate, here's their first release, if you haven't heard it, take a listen, and if you have, listen AGAIN! Because it is a great release, from a great band.
I could go on for this list, but for now, I will leave you with a thank you and plenty of time to listen to these gems. There may be a second installment of this type, so as usual, stay tuned!