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Friday, July 28, 2017

1014. Killers / Murder One. 1992. 3.5/5

Having worked through a decade after his release from Iron Maiden, Paul Di’anno had produced a number of albums from a number of different projects. From the soft rock project under his own banner Di’anno, to an almost-superband experiment in Gogmagog, to several good reviews for his work with Battlezone, into a one-off tour with Praying Mantis, Paul had shown that he could still come up with material that was catchy and relevant, though mixed in with some less than exciting songs. His next port of call was in forming the band called Killers, and their debut release was this album, Murder One

Much like the other projects as mentioned above, and indeed of those that were to follow, there is enough good stuff here to suggest that Paul and his new comrades had a viable concern with their band. Opening track “Impaler” jumps straight out at you at a galloping speed with Paul’s vocals riding on a wave of hard hitting drums and pleasing riff variation. “The Beast Arises” doesn’t come as fast but is hard and heavy throughout, while Di’anno reaches for the screams of youth at different times of the song. The cover version of T-Rex’s “Children of the Revolution” had the potential to be a real stomping effort, full of power and individuality, and while this version is fine it didn’t really do anything that could have set it apart from other versions of the song. It’s not disappointing but it just isn’t fabulous either. “S&M” and “Takin’ No Prisoners” are reasonable variables of the previous songs, though the intensity is dialled back, and to be honest they drag on too long with not enough to keep them above the water line in regards to interest.
On the brighter side, “Marshall Lokjaw” is for me the best song Di’anno wrote in his post-Maiden collection of bands and projects. It has the high energy from both the band and vocalist that you would expect. This is where his vocals excel, the kind of song he has always been meant to sing. A rollicking backing track, setting the platform for Di’anno to give us the performance that he can, singing the storyline that the lyrics provide and allowing him to be centre stage for the entirety of the song, interspersed with the dual guitar solos in the middle. Terrific stuff. If only he could have based more of his music around this track.
“Protector” continues in the hard rock arena, with a simplistic riff line and drum set. “Dream Keeper” changes the tempo and style up completely, going for the mix between slower AOR 70’s sound and a Whitesnake or UFO like whining guitar. I can get the ideas of what they tried with this track, I just don’t think they quite got it. “Awakening” sticks to the standard tempo and 2/4 drum beat with Di’anno almost chanting his lyrics throughout.
Whether it was necessary to tack on the cover of “Remember Tomorrow” is open to question. The version is a good one, and Paul still sings it well, but surely by now it was time to take away the focus from the music that brought him his fame, and live or die by his own material. Or perhaps that is just it, he cannot sever himself from that period of his life. Looking back from 2017, that’s still accurate.

There is enough good material here to make you think this band could make a real go of it, and start producing some even better material. The album’s major problem was its conception date, smack bang in the middle of the grunge era, which for a short time was influencing everything in music. As such, albums like this were buried and forgotten. More is the pity. Five years earlier this may have made a mark. Perhaps even five years later. Instead, in retrospect it is a more than listenable album, and perhaps the closest Paul ever came being able to forge a band and career away from that other one he was in once.

Rating:  “Marshall Lokjaw, all guns blazing!”  3/5
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