Joined: 30 Jan 2003
|Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:35 am Post subject: REALM - ENDLESS WAR
|REALM - ENDLESS WAR
“Our main goals when we formed were definitely to be as progressive as we could, while also remaining as heavy as possible.” So spoke Takis Kinis, guitarist/main man of the extraordinary Realm, who for a brief moment in time in the late 1980’s released two incredible speed metal albums of worth and then … was gone. Due to mismanagement and missed opportunities Realm, like so many bands of that period sadly fizzled out after album number two.
Formed in 1985 in Milwaukee out of a Maiden & Priest covers band, Realm produced two competent demos, 85’s 'Perceptive Incentive', and 86’s 'Final Solution'. With these under their belt it was also the band covering The Beatles’ 'Eleanor Rigby' during their live set which gained the attention of Roadrunner records who promptly signed them up. With a revolving door of members coming and going Kinis and fellow guitarist Paul Laganowski were eventually joined by Steve Post on bass, Mike Olsen on drums and the screaming lung power of vocalist Mark Antoni. They entered Breezeway studios with friend/producer Jim Bartz, and despite being on a miniscule budget recorded a superb slab of Maiden-meets-Rush speed/thrash metal that, for sheer class alone is breath-taking when heard today.
Opener and title track 'Endless War' zips and weaves in a flurry of thumping drums and pounding riffs, the high-pitched/growling vocals of Antoni a cross between King Diamond and Rob Halford. And the solos; Jesus, if you want a guitar solo album then this is for you; all over the place, inventive, stunning, memorable, Kinis and Laganowski insanely talented (they shoulda been huge). 'Slay the Oppressor' twists and turns, more tasty solos, almost Slayer-esque speed, the bass twanging ala Steve Harris, loud in the mix. In fact, the production is simple yet familiar, reminding the listener of many different bands – Maiden, Rush, Slayer, Mercyful Fate, even Thin Lizzy. During a period when most thrash bands were scrambling to get that *crunch* Realm seemed to have one foot in the past, looking back to the forefathers of 1970’s Hard Rock whilst embracing the speed of Slayer and progressiveness of the aforementioned Rush and say, Crimson Glory. See track # 3, 'Eminence'; a slow-burner, the music squirms and shifts as it builds into this howling guitar duo before collapsing under the weight of a throbbing riff, all leading towards the climax of a hair-raising vocal performance from Antoni.
Endless War is brimming with hidden jewels for the uninitiated. I envy those listening to this album for the first time. For the rest of us, who know every single song back-to-front, we still break out into sweats listening to the immense 'Fate’s Wind', or the mini-Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner 'Root of Evil', a tale of reckless youth, of warnings gone unheeded and the consequences thereof:
“Drunken senile fool, don’t force your fears on me/I don’t believe in legends, I do believe in greed/I will return to laugh in your face/You’ll feel the disgrace/Prove your words untrue.”
Side B opens with that Beatles cover, which today, where every band of every possible genre has done at least one out-of-place cover doesn't seem that exciting but back in the day (said the drunken, senile old fool) everyone who had heard it was freaking out over it. Elsewhere you have the blistering 'This House Is Burning'; the multi-layered 'Second Coming', the dazzling 'All Heads Will Turn to the Hunt' and foot-tapping, head-banging, air-guitar chaos of album closer 'Poisoned Minds'. And if you’re lucky enough to pick up the Metal Mind CD re-issue it comes with the previously unreleased 'Theseus and the Minotaur'.
Lyrically Realm was positive, anti-evil, which some mistook for Christianity, a term frowned upon in the murky pools of metal. Indeed, there are a couple of songs where you’d be forgiven (no pun intended) in assuming this - 'Eminence' is about the crucifixion, after all. Shrewdly Kinis assures the listener in an essay in the CD re-issue booklet that their lyrics were ‘stories, narratives, fantasies, or just plain interesting events in our lives written poetically into our songs. Take the words for what they are worth.’ Fair enough.
The album cover was a spectacular painting of an iron Trojan horse, by one Chi Choni. However, the band weren’t too fond of the cover. Said Kinis in a recent interview “We absolutely hated the Endless War art. That was forced on us. It is a cool piece of art, no doubt. But get this: I had an album cover idea based on Endless War. My idea was sketched out by a friend and I sent it to Monte (Conner, Roadrunner records head honcho). That idea ended up being the (first) Obituary album cover.” - but I think I’m safe in stating that I never heard any fan of the album say otherwise, and it suits the music therein. As for the Obituary cover, the death metal powerhouse 'Slowly We Rot', depicting a rotting corpse lying in a gutter, well … (1)
Realm followed up 'Endless War' with 'Suiciety', and though not as immediate as their debut it’s still a technical, musical force to be reckoned with. Had the band had that all important push to go to the next level then who knows what could have happened. Album # 3 promised so, so much, yet unfortunately never appeared.
That said, 'Endless War' remains a startling album which deserves to heard by a wider audience. It is an outstanding thrash metal classic.
Full album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyGD6BrCBUg