By: Alex Phillips
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Available: August 19th
As a matter of fact I do remember the ’80s. I remember President Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev’s birthmark, and the Star Wars program (not that Star Wars, I mean the never-implemented defense project that would fire lasers at Soviet ICBMs mid-flight from orbital assault platforms of some kind). And I remember how back in the day my older sister played the hell out of some Poison and Bon Jovi, not to mention Vanilla Ice, New Kids On The Block, and other degenerate musical acts spawned in the great bleeding out from that era into the ’90s. Many geriatric metal bands (sometimes referred to as “pioneering acts” who “laid the groundwork”) from the Time Before Grunge are still performing today. Many are not. I would argue that this is generally a good thing. But not always. How many bands that faded into cultural oblivion could have stood as giants beside the Slayers, Metallicas, Helloweens, and Kreators? For Powerlord, establishing an influential style that would inspire countless subpar knockoffs was not meant to be.
It was 1986 when Powerlord recorded their debut, The Awakening, a six-track collection that burst from the realms of speed and thrash metal hell-bent on pillaging what it could from the loftier kingdom of power metal. Whatever brought about the end of Powerlord couldn’t keep The Awakening from surfacing after thirty years, alive and angry and remastered—these tracks sound good. The music is unmistakably ’80s-era speed and thrash, but with the measured, crafted songwriting common among the more successful pioneers of the day. The six tracks are gems out of time, well worth a listen for fans of old school metal and the ’80s sound. Powerlord flared hot and bright but burned out fast. They faded from the scene, their sole album overlooked or, more likely, drowned out by the pioneers. (It couldn’t have helped that Powerlord came from Oklahoma City, which I know from experience as a place that lends itself to obscurity and transience. But I speculate.)
If you’re into ’80s speed and thrash, if you’re always looking for something new from the old times, look no further than Powerlord. You won’t be disappointed.