Leave it to longtime underground kingpin King Fowley to do this: a covers album made up entirely of songs from Metal Massacre compilations. Here, Fowley and his mates in October 31 do the deed with 10 tracks that are, yup, all covers of songs originally from the once-classic series on the awesomely titled Metal Massacre 31.
When we heard about this release, there was no doubt in our minds that we had to wrangle up Fowley, who sings in October 31, to get the lowdown on why this happened, what the series meant to him, and if he heard the most recent Metal Massacre album. Somewhere in there, the band also took this rather incredible exclusive photo for Decibel of them surrounded by Metal Massacres, presented above for your viewing pleasure.
This is a very good concept for an album. Where did the idea come from?
I've had the idea for over 10 years, actually. Always wanted to do a tribute record to a series which really sent me on my way in discovering heavy metal outside of your Judas Priests and Iron Maidens as a kid. The timing was never there until last year, so we finally sat down and smashed it out.
Tell me a bit about your own personal history with the Metal Massacre compilations. How much of an impact did they have on you?
The series really meant a lot to me growing up, discovering so many “new” and young/hungry bands playing heavy metal. In those days there was no internet or easy way to find out about the bands the world over, so you had to find these records to hear what was happening. Tape trading really came about at the same time too and also was a fun thing to be a part of. But these compilations really were super cool collections of mainly demo songs from those traded demos.
Why is the Metal Massacre series important?
It came at a time when the heavy metal sound was new and fresh. The passion was there. It brought a different perspective to metal music, with bands being allowed to have a raw edge and show what they had as musicians and songwriters hidden amongst mostly under-produced tracks.
What's your favorite Metal Massacre and why?
I will go with IV. It just has a real strength in songs. So many classics on there, from Lizzy Borden to Trouble to lesser-known bands like Sacred Blade and Witchslayer. I remember taking the subway down to Washington, D.C. and buying the record and guessing which band would be my favorite on it. I guessed Lizzy Borden and it indeed was one of my fave tracks, the epic “Rod of Iron.”
What's your least favorite and why?
Anything after VII, really. It went down in songwriting quality big time after that. So many duds suddenly appeared. The first seven, you could drop the needle anywhere and find a kick-ass, rocking tune. But after that there were very few gems to be had. But those first seven, oh yes....
There was a Metal Massacre 14 this year. What are your thoughts on that?
A friend sent me a copy, but, honestly, I haven't even played it yet. The desire to hear it is very little, honestly. A few bands on it I'm friends with and I wish them well. But I have a feeling going in there's not much to cheer about overall as a Metal Massacre release.
Give us an October 31 update: what's going on apart from this album?
Well, we will have also an EP of cover songs called Tits out possibly March 2017, which will be us rocking female-fronted metal and rock tunes. It's a six-track affair and will feature cover songs by Warlock, Acid, Blacklace, Pat Benatar, Quarterflash, and Rock Goddess (which will actually be a duet with me and Stacey Savage from Savage Master). After this, we are full-on into our next studio record, Ye Old Peril, for Hells Headbangers Records, which will be 100-percent traditional heavy metal, loud, wild, and crazed. A few new song titles are “Frenzy,” “Torches and Pitchforks,” and “Smoke and Mirrors.” Look for it late 2017 and keep an eye out for an October 31 tour to come screaming through your town.
Metal Massacre 32: King Fowley's 15 favourite Metal Massacre tracks
We asked Fowley for a list of his 15 favourite Metal Massacre songs so we could make a playlist of them over at the Decibel page at Apple Music, then realized, much to our horror, that the Metal Massacre series is not represented in its full glory over there. So, do it yourself: get out the vinyl and tape player and make this Fowley-approved, and Decibel-approved, best of Metal Massacre compilation (note: a 1989 compilation called The Best of Metal Massacre is a thing that, amazingly, exists and actually includes many of these tracks, confirming what we already knew: Fowley knows his stuff).
1. “Mrs. Victoria” (Warlord)
2. “Cross My Way” (Death Dealer)
3. “Rod of Iron” (Lizzy Borden)
4. “Torture Me” (Omen)
5. “Bombs of Death” (Hirax)
6. “The Alien” (Sacred Blade)
7. “Riding in Thunder” (Bitch)
8. “Condemned to the Gallows” (Voivod)
9. “Chains around Heaven” (Black 'N Blue)
10. “Soldier Boy” (Fates Warning)
11. “Impulse” (Heretic)
12. “Hellbent” (Znöwhite)
13. “Screams from the Grave” (Abattoir)
14. “End of Time” (Jesters of Destiny)
15. “Sentinel Beast” (Sentinel Beast)