The German label HELLION RECORDS has been releasing quite a lot underground (mostly) US Metalalbums, and I thought it was time to do some sort of special on this small label, which by the way is also responsible for organising every year one of the biggest Metal events in the world: WACKEN OPEN AIR! Anyway, below are not all their releases reviewed, but 7 of their catalogue, for a full list of releases and more info on any other underground Metal release go to their site at: http://www.hellionrecords.de


Without a doubt, the American band EXILED stands for high class 80s US Melodic Metal, which reminds me a lot of WARLORD. Their same titled CD on HELLION RECORDS contains 8 tracks, with a playing length of only 35 minutes, but what you get is very impressive Melodic Metal from start to finish. Songs like “Fighter planes”, “On the edge of sadness”, “Night stalker” and “Locked in a cell” are lovely pure 80s US Melodic Metal of a very high level. If bands like JAG PANZER, HEIR APPARENT, WARLORD etc. are your kinda bands, then this EXILED is must to check out, but the band recently released a new CD, so also read that review below.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


The band from Phoenix, Arizona, USA returns with a new CD, which has a very nice extensive booklet, just like most other HELLION RECORDS releases, and everything seems to sound quite well. EXILED is playing Classic 80s US Metal, with a strong Power/Speed Metal approach, so fast songs with melodic vocals. When you put this CD on, it’s like your stepping into a time machine and head back to 1986 when this kind of Metal ruled the underground scene of both America and Europe. This is definitely a must for fans of HELSTAR, AGENT STEEL, METAL CHURCH, VICIOUS RUMORS... Highlights on the new EXILED CD are “The blade of death”, “Internal disorder”, “May you wake in your grave” and “Fortune teller”. Concluded, get this CD asap if you’re into classic 80s True Power Metal!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Out of North Carolina, USA comes K-OCTAVE and their CD on HELLION RECORDS is filled with high class 80s Melodic US Power Metal a la HEIR APPARENT, SAVAGE GRACE, LEATHERWOLF, JAG PANZER, OBSESSION, CAGE, EIDOLON, etc. etc. Although only 8 songs are included here, with a total playing time of 38 minutes, this CD is a must for fans of classy 80s US Metal, as it is really of a very high level. The song “Authenticate” is SUPERB pure 80s Melodic US Metal at it’s very best, even reminding of the first EP of QUEENSRYCHE and very early CRIMSON GLORY. Other highlights are “Outer limits”, “Descending existance” (fantastic!) and “Who laughs last”. You better get yourself a copy of this CD a.s.a.p.!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


This is one of those obscure bands from the mid 1980s. Back then there were thousands of Metalbands in the USA, most of them signed to some obscure label, but also quite a lot only managed to release only a demo. ROTTWEILER is one of those 80s US bands, whom now finally get something they deserved a long time ago, namely a decent label release and as we now live in the year 2004, it’s released on CD. The CD is titled ‘Screams of the innocent’ and it contains 13 tracks recorded in 1986 and a few live bonustracks. Musically this is prime-time classic 80s US Metal, and opener “Exterminator” starts the album very impressive, as this is a killer Metal track a la ANVIL, RIOT, HELSTAR... “Set the world on fire” is a bit weaker, and sounds like a weaker version of PRIEST, but furthermore this CD contains some great classy Melodic Metal material, such as “Rock N Roll you bring me pain”, “Seduxtress from hell” and “Where I am”. This is another typical 80s US Melodic Metal piece, recommended to fans of mentioned bands.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The Dutch band VORTEX recently had 2 of their albums re-issued onto CD by UNISOUND and now HELLION also released another album of the band titled ‘Hammer of the north’. The album contains 8 tracks, while this CD also contains 2 bonustracks from their 2 other albums, and 4 newer tracks as recorded in 2000 under the CD title ‘The mill’. It doesn’t matter that much, because just like their other albums, the music is 80s Metal, but due to the weak lead vocals it isn’t that interesting. In fact, this VORTEX might be one of the most overrated bands, because they were really not that good. Sure, instrumental it sounded pretty good, but their lead singer was clearly the weakest link, and also the songs were not really good. In the 1980s there were many (and better) Dutch Metalbands, but VORTEX sadly was just one of those bands (just like IMPACT) that definitely was nothing special. Only recommended to die-hard fans!

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


HEIR APPARENT could have been one of those bigger American acts, like QUEENSRYCHE, FATES WARNING and CRIMSON GLORY, but instead they disappeared after 1989 for over a decade. Happily they returned in 1999 with their album ‘Triad’. It was not really a comeback, as many of the recordings took place in the late 1980s. Most of the songs can also be found on the band’s 2nd record ‘One small voice’, but also 5 new songs are included. Besides, anyone whom never heard HEIR APPARENT get their chance now, because this is a high class Melodic (Prog) Metal album in the best QUEENSRYCHE and CRIMSON GLORY tradition. Songs like “We, the people”, “Keeper of the reign”, “Tomorrow night”, “Two hearts” (AORish ballad), “Young forever” and “The fifth season” are all classic QUEENSRYCHEish Melodic Metal songs. This band could have easily been up there with good old QUEENSRYCHE, but it never happened. Fortunately this CD is available and therefore everyone can hear for themselves that there were more interesting US bands playing in the style of

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


I reviewed one of the NOT FRAGILE CDs a long time ago, but ‘Yesterday’s heroes’ on HELLION RECORDS is a new disc for me. I must say that I did not know that NOT FRAGILE exists for over 20 years now, but apparantly they have been on the German scene since the early 80s, with even some LP releases during the beginning. Anyway, this ‘new’ CD contains 14 tracks, a mixture of older re-recorded NOT FRAGILE originals and covers of old 70s/80s Rocksongs that inspired NOT FRAGILE one way or the other. From their own songs I really need to add such great Melodic (Speed) Metal songs (a la early STORMWITCH/TOKYO BLADE) like “With all my might”, “Made of Metal”, “Hard to be alive” and “Too fast”. The coversongs are also great and striking are the ones from SWEET, SLADE, BAY CITY ROLLERS and even JOE LYNN TURNER FANDANGO’s “Hypnotized”. Without a doubt, a strong Melodic Metal record in typical German style, although half of the CD are covers, it all sounds like (for example) a PRIMAL FEAR, so check it out if you’re starting to become interested!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)