animated torch

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animated torch

Sunday, July 3, 2011

REVIEW: Railway (GER) - Railway (1984)

Railway was a German traditional heavy metal band formed in 1977. They play traditional heavy metal with very hard rocking edge. Closest bands musically that comes to my mind would be their country-mates Accept and Warlock, as well as perhaps a bit more commercial side of Judas Priest there. Accept and Warlock lean averagely more towards heavy metal, while Railway takes the more hard rock approach.

There's no much bad to say about this record. It's very 80's glitché in a good way, straightforward and entertaining. The riffs are just flowing, simple, and fun to listen to. Drum patterns are also rather simplistic, yet bombastic and heavy, and fit to the theme. Riffs have a good straight-forward energy on them, and they are really heavy on mid-paced rhythm-guitar chugging. Guitar solos, however are bit more complex and stand out of the otherwise rather straight-forward compositions. Bass is very audible in the mix, giving the needed low-end punch. Vocals by Walter Wicha are perhaps the weakest point of the album; not over-the-top way of bad, but not certainly pushing the otherwise fine material to another level, either. While he seems to "blend" in to the music rather well, he can also be slight annoyance at times. Wicha sings with mid-pitched slightly rough nasal voice which is definitely okay when he stays at this level of vocal range. But, he also uses quite much higher pitched screams which come out little wacky sometimes; out of the key and unstable, so to say. I'd imagine if Railway ever had more stable and bit more professional singer - they could had pushed things bit more far. That being said, there were plenty of middle European metal bands from countries such as Belgium, Germany, and so on in the 80s, which had really terrible singer trying to do vocals in English. Wicha isn't one of the actually really bad ones; you who have heard some of the worst singers of the era know that there were some of really "bad apples" among the decent and great ones.

Despite the plain non-complex riffs, yet energetic hard-rock flavored riffs, and  simple drumming patterns, the record still manages to sound enjoyable, even great one would say. Atmosphere is bombastic and dirty, simplistic, but not hollow. Backing vocals by the rest of the band in choruses are used often and work very well. Choruses are definitely great to shout along. Material is also very consistent throughout the whole album. One of the best tracks is uplifting opening track "Heavy Metal Fever" with cheesy but great sing-along chorus: "Heavy metal fever! Heavy metal fever! Heavy metal fever! C'mon let's go!"; you just cannot listen that with serious face. This album's all about energy and fun. Mid-paced rocker "Screaming After Midnight" is another high point of the album. More chugging palm muted rhythm guitars can be found in "Take It Away" and especially in "Out To Kill"; both very good songs. Bass driven rocking "Crazy" is always fun to listen to. Some more good gang sung choruses can be found in speedier tracks "Nightrider" and "Hell Soldiers".

Railway's S/t album is a very good hard rock bordering German heavy metal record in veins of Accept and Warlock; take the straight forward riffs from early Accept and the more commercial side of Warlock, and tone it a few steps into hard rock direction, and you pretty much get what's offered here, but with less professional singer. If you can tolerate a bit wacky vocals at times when the singer hits the higher notes (backing vocals are often used and good, though) - you're in for a good fun ride. The guitars are good enough, and the vocals not bad enough, that the records ends easily on the upside of 80s heavy metal, by far. This record just screams for heavy metal party with beer; not to be taken too seriously, but to be moshed with fists pumping into the air. Simple, effective, rocking, easy to sing along and dirty (as many "mid-range" German bands in the 80s used to do things). Unlike some other truly nice albums of this kind by other bands, which I just forget (by accident), there's some magic in this Railway's debut, which occasionally makes me remember it out of the blue and listen it again. 82/100 (Great) -- (Updated 12/4/2016: improved the spelling of the ancient review)

  • Werner Thaller - Bass
  • Hasi Haslinger - Drums
  • Robert Haslinger - Guitars
  • Walter Wicha - Vocals
  • Hermann Janowitz (R.I.P. 1988) - Guitars

  • 1. Heavy Metal Fever 03:28
  • 2. Out to Kill 03:29
  • 3. Screaming After Midnight 03:04
  • 4. Take It Away 02:53
  • 5. Nightrider 04:16
  • 6. Dirty Boys 03:21
  • 7. Crazy 03:47
  • 8. Stone In My Bed 04:13
  • 9. Hell Soldiers 04:03
  • 10. Break It Up (Bonus Track) 04:16
  • 11. Can’t Stand It (Bonus Track) 03:43
    • Total running time: 40:33

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Roadrunner/RR9821
Type – LP/N/84
Near Mint – $12
Very Good+ - $7