Damn, nostalgia hits ye like a ton of bricks sometimes, doesn’t it? Sounds and smells of long bygone times return once a certain piece plays on rock radio.
This just so happened a few days ago when I cruised along the country highway with my snazzy carriage. And – suddenly – Tokyo Nights blazed out of my sound system. You know, the piece Krokus did back in 1980 on their fourth album Metal Rendez-Vous.
This also made me realize that Krokus‘ story is far from being told on RockmusicRaider and that a new review should be due soon. So what better choice than this record.
Metal Rendez-Vous, far from perfect as it was, really served as the turning point for this band. Or as the real debut album, as many like to call it. Mind you, pieces like Pay It in Metal were already not bad. But nothing quite prepared us for this onslaught of Hard Rock and early Heavy Metal that this disk threw at us.
Krokus attacked with this new-found fervor with a new lead vocalist called Marc Storace. A man with pipes capable to challenge those metal screams Bruce Dickinson would be famous for not very far into the future. And – luckily – away from Chris von Rohr, who transferred to bass duty.
Back in the early ’80s the Krokus deal was about the hardest metal that you could get. If you didn’t dwell in the underground of – course – with all its blackened shenanigans that slowly gathered steam.
That the band seriously started to piggyback on AC/DC did frankly not bother us much. First, we didn’t quite realize yet what kind of jewel the latter would throw onto the market that same year. And second, this was the kind of sound we craved. So why hype about it?
And let’s put this in perspective.
Sure, all riffs, rhythms, and structures on Metal Rendez-Vous had this smell of them boys from Australia all over it. But Marc Storace‘s screamy voice was exactly what the doctor ordered. Besides, the AC/DC influence still is relatively light, if you compare this old record with modern ones like Hoodoo or Dirty Dynamite.
To really knock this one shut, one big factor of this type of déjà-vu probably is the simple fact that Storace‘s and Bon Scott’s tonalities often rock at similar levels. AND – as the lore goes – he turned down an offer to audition for Scott’s replacement after the latter’s untimely demise.
But back to this slab of old, but still tasty Hard Rock and early Heavy Metal.
Metal Rendez-Vous found this band in tip-top shape. Things were going well and the record really showcased a band in its prime. With a self-assured swagger that is so important to the good success of any band in the music industry.
And truly, once Heatstrokes started rocking the stage, our young metal minds were sold to the gods of early Heavy Metal. Hook, line, and steely sinker, as they say. They truly already understood back then that you gotta hook the fans in the first 30 seconds or so, and they will never leave. And for sure, once the tiny garble rings out on the first track after 11 seconds or so of uncertainty, followed by its trademark riff, you knew you had to have the record.
The ’80s was also a time when these bands really savaged that gas pedal and pushed it through the proverbial metal. And Metal Rendez-Vous offers its fair share of that kind of sturdy fare. Like Come On, that absolutely deliciously crunchy precursor to the style Headhunter would adopt three years later. After Krokus tried to bore us to death with albums like Hardware in between, that is.
Yet this record here kinda oscillates between high-speed and predominantly mid-tempo tracks. A typical one is the aforementioned Tokyo Nights with its meaty trademark riff. This is the track that talks about hot adventures with hookers in Japan. And the protagonist having his mind blown and reasoning reduced to a garbled mess.
Yet, whatever made Krokus adopt those reggae rhythms to stand for something oriental will forever be beyond me. But hey, the final product really rocks. And besides, why not scrape a little something off a scheme that already worked for the Scorpions one year earlier, right?
Looking at all that stellar material on Metal Rendez-Vous, I keep on wondering why on earth they saw fit to include all that sub-par stuff. Tracks like Shy Kid, No Way, or again Back Seat Rock’n’Roll really don’t kick up any real dust on this road to rock nirvana. And it’s almost bad form from a band that definitely had the goods to truly make a difference in this fledgling NWoBHM movement. Even if they are no British band.
But the above notwithstanding, the record enjoyed a fulminant success to this day. Metal Rendez-Vous really proved to be that door opener to international fame. One that led to a career of a band that still rocks big stages to this day.
In other words, if I had to select THE number one album for Krokus, this one would be it. Back when it released and still today, almost 40 years later. If that’s not proof of the pudding, I don’t know what is.
Ed’s note: Congrats, the album successfully made it onto the newest issue of the Old’n’Tasty series.
Get dat tune: