Danger Zone - Line Of Fire (2011/Avenue of Allies)
It seems that Italy had quite a hard rock/AOR scene at the end of the 80's. Names like Vanadium, Florence 99, Elektradrive and of course guitar wiz Alex Masi will undoubtely ring a bell to many fans and collectors of obscure 80's metal and AOR. Here we have another band to add to that list: Danger Zone, a band unfamiliar at least to this reviewer - that is until I got sent me a promo of their upcoming Avenue of Allies release "Line of Fire", an album recorded all the way back in 1989, but never released in any format up until now. It took 22 years, but as the old saying goes: "when you are waiting for something good, you can never wait too long".
Apparently these guys released an EP back in '84 called "Victim Of Time", which I suspect is a real rarity. A quick YouTube search
reveals a strictly more traditional heavy metal sound than the one heard on "Line of Fire", a release clearly aimed at breaking into the US commercial metal market. How much the band themselves had a say in this move is hard to tell, but whatever the case Danger Zone managed to record an album that, at least at times, holds up quite well against the more well-known MHR acts of the time.
Yes, "Line of Fire" is an enjoyable if unspectacular 10-track ride into 80's metal memory lane, well produced and well played by all involved, and one can only thank Avenue of Allies for picking this up and making it available to the masses. On this release, the band worked with Stephen Galfas (Meat Loaf, Savatage, John Waite) and producers Jody Gray and Mark Cobrin, known for their work with (among others) cult japanese hard rockers Loudness. Style- and soundwise "Line of Fire" isn't a million miles removed from what their japanese collegues did at the same time, which probably isn't a coincidence considering Gray and Cobrin's involvement. For those familiar with french 80's rockers Fisc, they are another valid comparisation.
Album highlights include the anthemic title track and the catchy melodic hard rock of "Hardline" and "State Of The Heart", but surprisingly enough it's the heaviest track on show "The Hunger", that gets me the most excited. This is a track that Loudness would have been proud of recording.
The album's downside is the raspy vocals of Giacomo Gigantelli, which is not always convincing, although they work better on certain tracks than others. Also, there are a few songs that barely reach the above average mark unfortunately. The ballad "That's Why I Fell In Love With You" (a country cover, mind you) is a particular low mark and clearly an attempt at a radio hit, unfortunately this style doesn't fit the band at all and this song should clearly have been left out. These things keep the rating down, but all in all "Line of Fire" is still a charmy piece of (italian) hard rock history, that's worth checking out just for the good stuff. The band is even working on a new album as these words are being written, and that will certainly be intresting to follow.
Bob Wheeler - s/t
Fury - s/t