Classic Killers Live
5/28/2004 - Review by: Vinaya Saksena
Thunderhead: Classic Killers Live (Gun/ Victor, 1994) reviewed by: Vinaya Saksena
And indeed, if this sadly missed batch of German road warriors with the hell-raising American front man can be compared to any international act, it would be Guns ‘n’ Roses, sez me. Raging tornados of heavy blues-based riffery such as “House Of Swallow,” “Busted At The Border,” and the pissed-off opening barrage “Young And Useless” are interspersed with just two ballads (very good ones) in “The Darker Side Of Yesterday” and the very Lynyrd Skynyrd-ish “Movin’ On.” Guitarist Henny Wolter and vocalist/ co-guitarist Ted Bullet trade well-played, but not overly polished blues-rock licks with stadium metal intensity over tight, thunderous bass and drums (with lots of crashing, ringing cymbals) while Bullet belts out sordid tales of low living in a mid-to-low growl (with mid-to-high amounts of profanity). It must be said, however, that Thunderhead easily outshine the aforementioned G ‘n’ R in terms of musicianship and live tightness. Check out the dual guitar blitzkrieg in “Busted At The Border” and the sophisticated, bluesy swing of “42nd Street” (Japanese only bonus track!) for evidence of their musical prowess and versatility.
Thunderhead had released four studio albums when Classic Killers Live was recorded at a single show in Hannover, Germany (on tour in support of the previous year’s Killing With Style album). They were good for one more studio album, Were You Told The Truth About Hell? before the band members went their separate ways. Most notably, Wolter appeared on three albums by Sinner (including my personal fave, The End Of Sanctuary), as well as two widely acclaimed albums (plus DVD) by Primal Fear, and has since formed Donnerkopf (German for Thunderhead) with bassist Ole Hempleman. Drummer Alex Scotti has made a name for himself as a producer. Bullet, meanwhile, served for a spell with Son Of A Bitch, which later morphed into the controversial Oliver-Dawson Saxon. He then headed back to the states, where he formed a new band and released the decent but unremarkable album Ugly Side under the Thunderhead name. Due to patchy distribution, you have a better chance of finding WMD in Iraq than tracking down the original Thunderhead albums. So if you are a sucker for intense, bluesy, old-school metal, try snagging this or the relatively less rare compilation album The Whole Decade, which includes several tracks from Classic Killers.
Oh, and check out their dead-on rendition of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades.”
--Vinaya Saksena 05.28.04
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