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RAZOR – Under The Blade
Bernard Doe
Metal Forces, Issue 14 (1985)

Razor (l-r): Dave Carlo, M-Bro, Sheepdog and Mike Campagnolo

While a majority of bands struggle to produce an album of any significance once every twelve months or so, Canada’s Razor have released two albums in 1985 – Executioner’s Song and Evil Invaders – that should take pride of place in any speed metal fans’ record collection.

But whilst Razor are certainly coming up with the goods, it seems the band are failing to get half the recognition that befalls, and quite rightly, the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Exodus and fellow compatriots Exciter. So to help put matters right I recently spoke to guitarist Dave Carlo and began by asking him how it all started? “The band came together in October 1983. I formed it with our bass player Mike Campagnolo and ‘M-Bro’ (Mike Embro) our drummer. We started out playing original material, but without a vocalist and didn’t get ‘Sheepdog’ (Stace McLaren) until April 1984. This was just two or three weeks before we recorded our Armed And Dangerous mini-LP, which was self-financed.”

How many copies of Armed And Dangerous have you sold? “We completely sold out the 1,200 we pressed up, and then we were approached by Attic Records.

“They started to take an interest in us when they heard that Armed And Dangerous was selling well. But when they came and saw us live, they wasn’t sure if they wanted to take a chance on a band as heavy as us, because it was before they launched their all-metal Viper label and were looking at Razor as a band on a large scale commercial potential, so they turned us down.

“That was in October ’84. But when they saw us support Anvil, the following January, they were impressed enough to offer us a deal.”

Your first album for Viper, Executioner’s Song, included four numbers from Armed And Dangerous. Why was this? “Well, we supplied Viper with a demo of 11 totally new songs. But they couldn’t make up their mind whether to release a totally new album or include some of the best songs from Armed And Dangerous, seeing that there was obviously so many people who hadn’t heard it. So in the end they decided to remix all 18 songs, including the seven from Armed And Dangerous, and we picked which out of the songs we wanted to release.”

Why has your latest album Evil Invaders been released so soon after Executioner’s Song? “Executioner’s Song has sold over 25,000 copies and so far it’s only been given domestic release in Canada and in Europe (through Roadrunner Records), although right now they’re negotiating for an American and Japanese release. But that album was put together very inexpensively and Viper thought they had already got a lot of mileage out of it, so they asked us to record Evil Invaders.

Wasn’t you originally going call the new album Thrashdance? “Yes we were, because we thought that title would draw a lot of attention to the album. But we had this graphic artist in to design the cover, who’s done album covers for Rush in the past, and he took a look at the track list and said he couldn’t come up with a concept for Thrashdance and suggested Evil Invaders would be a more suitable title. So we agreed with that.”

Dave Carlo

Now I remember when Armed And Dangerous was released, that you stressed to me that Razor wasn’t a speed / thrash band. But on the evidence of Evil Invaders, you can’t be described as anything but thrash? “Yes, you’re right; we’ve definitely developed into a thrash metal band. But the whole concept of Razor at the beginning was to be nothing more than a very heavy metal band. I wouldn’t call Razor trendsetters by any means. We like to take an idea that we enjoy and work with it.

“The sort of music we heard that first got us into the whole material was like Ace Of Spades (1980) by Motörhead and then Metallica’s Kill ’Em All (1983). I started to draw these influences into my material and we decided, inevitably, that this was the direction that we wanted to go.”

Then you would agree with my comments in my review of Evil Invaders that the album has Slayer stamped all over it? “Yes I would. We all listen to a lot of Slayer. We like the speed and the fact that they play with a great amount of tightness, which is very important. They also set the trend at playing at the ultimate speed with real power. There’s a helluva lot of talent behind Slayer, and I guess we try to mould our self in the same way, with the exception that we are definitely not a black metal band. You can tell by our lyrical content that Razor are more into the typical heavy metal topics like aggression and head-banging.”

You mean more street level subjects? “Yeah, that’s right. More people can relate to that than all this Satanical stuff.”

What about on the live front. Have you played many gigs? “We haven’t played outside Canada yet. We’ve done about thirty five shows, but there’s not a lot of work for thrash metal bands like us in Canada. Hopefully though we may be touring the US soon with Znöwhite, and of course there’s nothing more we’d like to do than to go over to Europe.”

When I interviewed Exciter earlier this year, they were more or less turning their backs on Canada because of the poor support they were getting back at home. “That’s right. I remember that interview and to a certain extent I agree with them. You see, of the 25,000 copies that we’ve sold of Executioner’s Song only 2,500 of them have been sold here in Canada, which is only 10%. But even so, we still have a loyal following in Toronto, Montreal and Québec.

“There’s also a lot of other bands, especially in Toronto, who are trying to break out; bands like Death Militia and Slaughter who are at the stage where Razor were eighteen months ago. The problem here though, is that there’s just not enough thrashers because Canada has too small a population.”

Finally, is there anything else you want to add? “Well, Viper are expecting to double the sales figures of Executioner’s Song with Evil Invaders, and I personally feel that it’s far superior to anything we’ve done before. But a lot of the time I get the feeling that a lot of the hardcore fans either haven’t heard of us or they’re not paying enough attention to what we’re doing.

“Maybe they think we’re over-rated or something? But I’d like to say that this is not true – buy Evil Invaders and see what you think for yourself.”

Yeah, I’ll second that. It’s about time Dave Carlo and co started getting some more acclaim for their endeavours. There’s always room at the top for the best and in my opinion Razor are a band who deserve to be there.

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 14 (1985)

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