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STRYCHNINE - review
(October 28, 2017)

STRYCHNINE
STRYCHNINE
No Escape... Live Or Die! 84-87
(Lost Realm Records)
51:13min

It's the year 2017 and every US Metal band that released some songs in the 1980s has been honoured with a proper re-release of their often manageable discography. Every band? I'm not sure. But somehow STRYCHNINE from Kent, WA have been overlooked for quite a long time. But now this has changed. Lost Realm Records from Portugal seem to be real gem diggers, since they were the ones who honoured STRYCHNINE with this CD. “No Escape... Live Or Die! 84-87” features anything the band released in their short career, and it was not that much. Two demo tapes, a self-financed two-song 7” and one song on a compilation LP was all that STRYCHNINE ever unleashed to the public. The compilation starts off with the four songs from the final demo “Pull The Plug" from 1987. And these songs alone make it a mystery why STRYCHNINE never got a recording deal. From the opening title tune that was even in the near of Thrash Metal, the four piece made a statement how speedy Power Metal should sound. The riffs remind of ANTHRAX and ARMORED SAINT in the opening title track and the latter are even more present in 'Once Before I Die', where title and chorus refer to the Sandoval brothers. With 'Time Waits', we have a semi-ballad here with guitar leads that make me think of LETHAL. The final 'Death Warmed Over' sounds familiar, a tune that somehow can be compared with old ANTHRAX once more. Yet, despite all these references to bigger names, STRYCHNINE were self-developed enough to make it and had a fine singer with Randy Bowman as well, who had a powerful voice similar to John Bush. The songs from “Pull The Plug” alone are a convincing reason to get the CD if you dig 1980s US Metal. But the three tunes that got honoured by vinyl are fine food as well, even though they were more rooted traditional Heavy Metal. 'Run For Your Life' appeared on the sampler LP "Metal Meltdown Volume 1" in 1985 and despite the muffled sound, this one is a fine example for the state of US Metal in the first half of the 1980s, a powerful and straight forward Metal tune. The same (except for the sound) goes for the two tracks that were released by the band in 1984 on vinyl as the "No Escape" 7" single. The uptempo titletrack has a smart mid paced break and the flipside 'Live Or Die' is very much influenced by IRON MAIDEN, which was not unusual for American (and European) Metal bands of that era. Maybe STRYCHNINE were a little closer to the godfathers of Metal here, compared to their contemporaries. All these three just mentioned songs also were on the untitled demo STRYCHNINE released in 1984 also, along with the a little unspectacular mid tempo opener 'Psychopath'. This one also suffers from the again muffled quality of the recording. The recording is such similar to the song from the sampler album that I'm pretty sure that the demo version of 'Run For Your Life' was just a little bit re-mixed for that release. But the sound is also not a benefit for the 7” songs, naturally, but at least these got a re-recording. The tape got finished by the rather funny, yet not really important outro 'Toxic Radio' that consisted of calls from band members to local radio stations. This is the end to a historical document of a typical band of 1980s Metal in the USA: they played shows, recorded demo tapes, received merits as local heroes and released a record all on their own before disbanding too soon. After the end of STRYCHNINE in 1987 or 88, some band members started the band MYRAMAINZ who also only released two demos while other members later appeared in PANIC to release two albums on Metal Blade in the early 1990s. If you want to get “No Escape... Live Or Die! 84-87” as your little piece of local Metal history, visit: www.lostrealmrecords.com

Thomas Meyer

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