ADDICTIVE • Kick ‘Em Hard 2xCD

ADDICTIVE • Kick ‘Em Hard CDx2

(Tribunal Records/Divebomb Records, 2013)

Late last year from Shadow Kingdom Records in Ohio, I picked up a copy of the Tribunal Records/Divebomb Records 2013 two-CD reissue of two late-’80s/early-’90s thrash metal albums—and more!—from the band Addictive in Sydney, Australia.

Despite some slightly goofy cover art by Oxx (AKA Simon Cooper) that’s slightly reminiscent of Adam Siegel’s Infectious Grooves lizards, the two records and assorted bonus tracks shine spotlight on a metal scene and band I have never heard or thought about before. Not that I’m fully well versed in all things international metal—my knowledge of Australian rock was pretty much limited to INXS, Midnight Oil, and the Hard-Ons before listening to this double CD—but the ‘80s Sydney metal scene is a scene with a history worth exploring. So explore I did. 

The two-CD reissue includes Addictive’s 1988 five-song demo, Ward 74; 1989 album, Pity of Man; and the delayed 1993 album, Kick ‘Em Hard (perhaps a riff on Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All); as well as an unreleased cover of “Crazy Train”—Kick ‘Em Hard producer Bob Daisley co-wrote “Crazy Train” with Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads—a 1990 demo of one of the first songs the band ever wrote; and the 1995-96 demo of a song intended for an unreleased third album.

Interestingly, the CD set leads with Kick ‘Em Hard, a 1991 recording finally released in 1993 after 18 months of delay—and after the band’s heyday was perhaps over and done. While an able effort, it is the 1988 demo and 1989 album that make the CD worth checking out. Both are excellent local examples of late ‘80s thrash and hint at what must have been an interesting—and very fun—time for metal in Sydney. There are definitely discernible influences in the music, particularly Metallica and Megadeth (which shouldn’t come as a surprise; Greg Smith’s vocals at times remind this listener of James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine), but other influences can be gleaned from the T-shirts worn by band members in photographs featured in the insert. Such bands include Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Metallica (natch!), Sacred Reich, S.O.D., Def Leppard, Cycle Sluts from Hell, Destruction, the Australian band Slaughter Lord—also from Sydney—and the underground comix character Mickey Rat.

Local record store Utopia Import Records—opened in 1978 by record collector John Cotter, and still active today—served somewhat as an epicenter for Sydney metalheads because the shop imported most of the NWOBHM and similar metal that inspired the Sydney scene. Bands active at the time included Detriment, Mortal Sin, Fester Fanatics, Massive Appendage, the Hard-Ons, the Melbourne-based Hobbs Angel of Death, and others. Shows occurred at local venues such as the Seven Hills Inn, Lewisham Haunted Castle, Kardomah, Springfields, Penshurst Den, Marquee, and Sutherland Royal. Mortal Sin might have been the biggest metal band to emerge from the scene, opening for Metallica in 1989 during the Damaged Justice tour and featured in Australian metal magazine Hot Metal, as well as the British magazines Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. Addictive, in turn, toured with Mortal Sin multiple times and rehearsed at the same studio—earning its own coverage in Hot Metal.

Four band members recorded Addictive’s demo and first album—Joe Buttigieg, Matt Coffey, Smith, and Mick Sultana—and Coffey left after Pity of Man to be replaced by Steve Moore for the 1991/1993 album. Both recorded at Sound Barrier Studios in Sydney, Ward 74 and Pity of Man are excellent recordings—and the highlight of this release. The demo—released in two pressings of 500, one hand labeled—featured cover art by Oxx depicting two healthcare workers and a long-haired, straitjacketed patient. A sign states, “You are now leaving Ward 74. Have a nice day.” One of the two workers says, “Why do you spose he keeps tryin’ to escape, Doc?” The doctor responds, “Beats the shit out of me, orderly. I love this place!” The original Survival issue of the Pity of Man LP featured a fantastic painted cover by John Marten depicting a robot dropping people into a giant hourglass as a woman consults a glowing orb in the distance on a desert planet. (The people might even turn into worms at the bottom of the hourglass; email Bad Transfer and let us know what you think is going on!) Despite deprecating comments in Vlad Nowajczyk’s interview with the band in the CD’s liner notes, the songs—and sound—are awesome.

Lyrical content and song themes on Pity of Man addresses conformity and control, the End Times, ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect, the Holocaust, mental institutions, parental expectations, alcoholism, and the threat of nuclear war. The instrumental introduction to the song “Come Before the Storm” is wonderfully energetic, and “The Forge”—ending the first side of the album—is itself a worthy instrumental. All five songs on the Ward 74 demo were rerecorded and included on Pity of Man.

Based on enthusiastic response to the demo and first album, later reissued on CD with new, less interesting cover art at the behest of the European distributor, the band’s second album—Kick ‘Em Hard—was fully intended to help Addictive join the ranks of Mortal Sin in terms of international attention. Mortal Sin even name dropped Addictive in a Hot Metal article, and Addictive opened for Motorhead in June 1991 at Hordern Pavilion as part of the Legendary Muthas of Metal Australian Invasion, or MetalFest, as part of Motorhead’s 1916 tour.

To produce Kick ‘Em Hard, the band enlisted Bob Daisley, an Australian musician who played with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Uriah Heep, and other notable bands. Daisley’s songwriting credits with Ozzy Osbourne would later be the impetus for a dismissed lawsuit seeking back royalties. A video of the band playing the song “Crazy Train” with Daisley is available on YouTube. The resulting album, however, was delayed for 18 months, arguably causing the band to miss its window of opportunity for wider spread attention and success because of mysteriously missing master tapes. The tapes might have been taken to the United States by an engineer—on the encouragement of the band’s management—in search of a better recording contract. (Absconding with those tapes also led to legal action.)

With its higher production values, Kick ‘Em Hard is more polished and professional, which—though fun—isn’t always necessary. The differences between Pity of Man and its successor are as stark as the differences between the ‘80s and the ‘90s. Being recorded in 1991 and not released until 1993, the second album sits at the cusp of the decade, serving as a bridge between the two. And the band is in fine fettle. Perhaps slightly more Megadeth-like now than Metallica—Smith’s vocals are a little more pronounced and affected—the band’s technical chops are also more polished. 

Song content on Kick ‘Em Hard addresses societal injustice, personal strength, medical experimentation, the environmental impact of overpopulation, addiction, uncertainty, military action and natural disasters, suicide, and relationships gone wrong.

After Addictive folded, Buttigieg and Sultana eventually joined Mortal Sin, and Moore joined Dungeon and played in other projects, including Dark Order, Enticer, Ilium, Redeemer, and Vaticide. Oddly, vocalist and bassist Greg Smith, the front man of the band, was not included in Nowajczyk’s interview. Where is he now? What is he doing? Despite Moore’s extensive band lineage, Smith seems to be the driving force behind Addictive—even if band members shared songwriting credits. (That might not at all be the case, but if any readers know where he ended up, I’m curious. I’m especially curious who wrote the lyrics.)

The band’s artist, Oxx, is also interesting creatively—and seems to have been a lynchpin in the Sydney metal scene. An artist and musician, Oxx drew cover, flier, and poster art for multiple bands, including Cruciform, Dearly Beheaded, and Fester Fanatics. He also frequently contributed artwork to Hot Metal and played drums in multiple bands, including Fester Fanatics and Massive Appendage. He was profiled after his death in Unbelievably Bad #10.

All in all, this is a wonderful archival release by a little-known (outside of Australia) band that could have been bigger globally, perhaps, had the timing of the release of their second album been better. As it is, we have labels like Tribunal and Divebomb—and fans such as Nowajczyk—to help bring bands like this increased attention, even if well after their most active days. 

I find that kind of fan archive activism… addictive. (HR)

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Justin Dratson: JD Nate Wilson: NW Matt Average: MA Heath Row: HR

THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (1975)

The Man from Hong Kong, aka, The Dragon Files

1975, Australia

Starring: Jimmy Wang Yu (Inspector Fang Sing Leng), George Lazenby (Jack Wilton), Hugh Keays-Byrne (Morrie Grosse), Roger Ward (Bob Taylor), Sammo Kam-Bo Hung (Win Chan)

Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith

Viewed: Streaming

Transfer Quality: Excellent transfer!

Don’t worry about what he might have said.

Don’t worry about gathering evidence..

Aww, no man…just POW!

I was all geared up to review the killer soundtrack for this, but then my damn amplifier conked out. Can’t do a proper review listening to a YouTube rip, so I decided it was a good excuse for a re-watch and review of the actual film.

Ozploitation meets Golden Harvest in this perfect marriage of unbridled action and absurdity from Dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith of Turkeyshoot and BMX Bandits fame. You certainly know you’re in for a wild ride when a two-pronged chase scene breaks out before the opening credits even roll. On the one side, drug smuggler Win Chan’s (Sammo Hung) bellbottoms are flying in hi-karate action as a narc pursues him to the top of Australia’s Uluru. On the other, a motorized chase between a helicopter and car ending in a massive explosion and the untimely demise of bad guy #2.

Enter kung fu legend Jimmy Wang Yu (One Armed Swordsman, Master of the Flying Guillotine) as inspector Fang Sing Leng—imagine Henry Silva, but Asian and with other-level martial arts skills—to extradite Win Chan to Hong Kong for justice. However, Chan is soon taken out by a sniper, and the Aussie narcs (who you’ll recognize as Mad Max’s Fifi, Roger Ward, and the Toecutter, Hugh Keays-Byrne) can’t keep a leash on the titular man from Hong Kong. It’s no slow, all go for the inspector as he mows down countless henchmen to get to the man behind it all, Jack Wilton, who kind of looks a bit like Dennis Parker in his prime.  The inspector is not just a fighter, though, he’s a lover too, with an array of uncomfortable gettin’ it on scenes to prove it.

To say this is an action movie is an understatement as it’s almost impossible to stay on top of all the car chases, kung fu battles, deep tongue lashes, and explosion after explosion after explosion. Although Sammo Hung’s character is offed pretty early in the film, he makes his indelible mark behind the scenes as the martial arts choreographer here. His top-shelf action really has an impact, as most Western movies tend to go a little soft in the kung fu department.

Legend has it that producers dropped 20% of the film’s budget on the rights to use Jigsaw’s Sky High as the theme song, but that’s a story I’ll save for when I get my amp up and running again.

In the meantime, don’t shy away from this classic…even if you have to drop $1.99 to watch it streaming.

(DC)

THE ROVER (2014)

THE ROVER (2014)

Directed By David Michôd

Starring: Guy Pearce, and Robert Pattinson

Netflix

Transfer: Great

The Rover_1

As Matt Average recently said to me, “You are the only one who will review any new films for the site, they must be at least 30 years old for me to watch them”.  Well Mr. Average, I too love most things old (music, cars, film, comics, art, etc), but I watch a lot of movies, and every once in a while I watch something that is current, and it actually excites me.  That was the case with 2014’s The Rover.  The film stars the awesome Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson (you know the dude from those shitty Twilight vampire films).   I do enjoy both these actors in many other roles, so I was super stoked on watching them team up together for this.  The apocalyptic film starts off with the following on a black screen  “Australia, ten years after the collapse”.   Yes, this bares some resemblance to the original Mad Max in its story, landscape, and violence.  Guy Pearce plays a loner who like the rest of Australia is dealing with a dog eat dog world after the financial collapse of the country (and maybe the world).  Guy is angry and never smiles (though it is the end of the world, so nobody is really smiling) and seems to be drifting around the outback.  That is until his car is stolen by three men who are up to no good. He then follows them through out the outback trying to get his car back while much crudeness and violence occurs.  Pearce runs into the mentally challenged brother of one of the thieves who is played by Robert Pattinson.  They develop a strange bond that starts off with a lot of tension.  At any rate, the story is really cool, and yes, this is another revenge buddy flick.  I won’t go into too much more detail because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.  I loved everything about this film.  The soundtrack is that of mega tension… like John Zorn playing a violin with a crowbar or something.  (NW)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Matt Average: MA

LONG WEEKEND (1978)

LONG WEEKEND (1978)

Director: Colin Eggleston 

Staring John Hargreaves, Briony Behets, Mike McEwen, Cricket (the dog)

Australia

Streamed on Prime- Great Transfer

longweekend

Well this movie seems a lot longer then the hour and thirty it clocks in at.  It  takes a while for stuff to really get moving.  The last 30 minutes are when things really get good, and the last 20 practically have no dialog at all.   Make sure you watch this with the subtitles on, because you don’t want to miss anything.  The accents throw me sometimes. 

This is a story of a suburban couple who are super easy to just be disgusted by.  Its easy to hate on them. They are just awful people, and I actually don’t find myself feeling sorry for them at all at any point in the film.  They “disrespect” and destroy nature for literally no reason… and Mother Nature gets her revenge.  The couple go to the beach for a weekend and along the way kill numerous animals, carelessly start a fire on the side of the road,  throw beer bottles in the ocean, chop down trees for absolutely no reason, etc.  They continuously argue and fight with one another throughout the story.  It really is sort of clever and helps build things up for the cool ending.  I won’t spoil the film to much for you, but the ending is really cool, and to for me it was worth it all.  As my buddy Mark said to me about the film “Its grueling, but worth the watch”.   I’d tend to agree.  Its not a movie you will soon forget.  (NW)

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NW: Nate Wilson    DC: Devon Cahill   MA: Matt Average