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21 Fire EP

Demon Doll (2009)
Rating: 8/10

Wow, if this EP from Hollywood, California’s Slam Alley had been released circa ’93 I’d have easily mistaken this for Skid Row at their most angry.

This is a pretty darn heavy sleaze rock record that boasts the furious vocal delivery of one Christan Dorris and some stonking guitar work courtesy of D.K. Revelle and Ray Camacho. Couple this with some heavyweight drumming and monster bass and you’re onto a sure-fire winner that somehow wears its influences on its sleeve but rocks so hard that you don’t care what it sounds like.

All I can really say is that if you’re a big fan of Skid Row, circa Slave To The Grind (1991), and more so Sebastian Bach’s Angel Down (2007) opus, then you’re gonna love this. A track like ‘Cry For Freedom’ is so heavy you’ll need a crane to lift it onto the turntable, and it’s the standout rocker on this five track affair.

But that’s not to say that the other four cuts aren’t of worth. ‘Dogz Go Downtown’ chugs along, leaving the speakers in pieces, with Slam Alley’s frontman Christian Dorris shining once again. Dorris sets this record on fire, and it’s great to hear a vocalist with such attitude and aggression to his voice.

I must admit, that when I first saw the cover of this record I was expecting some mediocre and weak sounding sleaze rock… but how wrong was I? The title track is a mid-tempo slab of fiery metal that stomps in with a marching drum. But the big surprise on the EP is the closer, ‘For Heaven Sake’, a sweeping ballad that floats in one with a serene piano, and reaches its climax almost three minutes in. This is hair metal at its best, bereft of the corny, it’s a genuinely brilliant anthem and as it drifts to silence I’m left gagging for more of Slam Alley.

Unfortunately, this band has long gone, having never got the recognition they deserved, and these recordings date back to 1995. Now, many years later, this epic EP has seen the light of day thanks to Demon Doll Records. Let’s hope metalheads around the world will not think this is some modern rip-off. It’s really hard to believe that Slam Alley weren’t big, but isn’t that the same old story?

Neil Arnold

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