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One Nation Underground

Shrapnel (1983)
Rating: 7/10

This album has to be the ultimate in power metal. Revving up at 100 mph with ‘Living In Sin’, this album just gets faster and faster, heavier and heavier. There are a couple of exceptions; ‘Silent Nightmare’ and ‘Escape The Night’ are only average medium paced rockers (by Hawaii’s standards anyhow) and are really quite forgettable, especially the former. Whilst ‘You’re Gonna Burn’, although fast and furious, is of only mediocre quality. However, the title track together with the opener saves side one from being a total letdown. Don’t be fooled by the slow intro to ‘One Nation Underground’, once this track gets going it’s guaranteed to make your ears bleed and more!

Compared with side one the flip side is a classic. Opening with ‘Nitro Power’ it’s a case of “speed is the essence” all the way. ‘The Pit And The Pendulum’ follows with sheer speed and aggression. There’s no doubt that the brainchild behind Hawaii, Marty Friedman, is the world’s most talented exponent of power metal guitar playing and on ‘The Pit And The Pendulum’ he excels himself beyond belief. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the poor vocals this track would even come close to challenging Metallica’s ‘Whiplash’ for the classic metal track of the year award.

I’ve always thought that Hawaii have been a bit weak in the lead vocal department and I’m afraid Gary St Pierre, who incidentally has just left the band, is no exception.

‘Secret Of The Stars’ and the titanic instrumental ‘Overture Volcanica’ conclude the mayhem of side two, the latter creating a frenzied wall of sound that only Hawaii know how.

To sum up. A good album, but let down by poor vocals and a disappointing side one. If Marty Friedman can get the chemistry right, the next album should be a total killer.

Bernard Doe

Review taken from Metal Forces, Issue 2 (1983)

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