FEAR NO EVIL
Released on May 2 , 1995 (CMC International)
There were many things that I liked about the band Slaughter. I constantly had their first release playing on my cassette player, and thought they were going to be mega stars with their catchy songs that were both hard rock and radio friendly — a mix I was a major fan in bands. Singer Mark Slaughter‘s voice, and the drumming style of Blas Elias, were also reason why I dug the band. Slaughter‘s vocals were not like the other bands that were out at the time, and who could forget the cover of the first release?
By the time I got their third studio album Fear No Evil, the band was pretty much non-existent in the mainstream spotlight. I found a copy years later, after seeing the band in club concert in Ohio, at a bargain bin at a used CD store. It’s the only concert I do not know what the date or year it was, but it was around the time of the Revolution album. I remember that when I saw the band live, I wanted to buy the t-shirt of the album cover of Fear No Evil, but was pretty sure I would not be able to find many places where I could wear it out in public (with a girl connecting tongues with a snake), especially since I mainly hung out at church functions. Nevertheless, the CD stayed in my music rack without getting much rotation, until recently.
The opening track “Live Like There’s No Tomorrow” has the introduction, like many signature Slaughter songs, with sound effects before the music started. This track starts with voices on a police scanner, sirens, and helicopters, and when the song starts, the heaviness of the guitars would make any critic thinking the band was just a glam act think twice. The song seems heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin‘s “Immigrant Song” with Tim Kelly‘s guitar riffs and Mark Slaughter‘s scream at the beginning sounding very similar. There will be, to me at least, several musical influences on this album, but this song is a great choice as a opening track. The tempo changes throughout the song, and bass player Dana Strum‘s work during the solo sets a great groove to the song.
The cowbell heavy “Get Used To It” has the similar structure of writing like the other Slaughter songs from the first two albums. Kelly‘s guitar playing on it has an Ace Frehley style, and Mark‘s vocals seem more angry on this track than on most of his songs. The drumming by Blas carries this one. This has a hard edge but still appeal fans for the band’s early recordings. Another song that shows an influence of the band is “Searchin’.” This song has the rhythm of an AC/DC song, with Mark‘s vocals mostly on the low end, where many critics thought he was just in the high range as a singer. This song shows Mark‘s diversity in talent, and is a straight up rock song. For research, I found that the band actually made a video for the song, with the band playing in a club, while a female is living a frustrated life trying to find Mr. Right (as the song lyrics state). If you put this song on and ask someone who was not familiar with Slaughter to name the act, you may be able to stump them because of this being a different vocal attempt. This has become one of my favorites off the album.
“It’ll Be Alright” takes the band into yet another direction. This song has a 1970s Alice Cooper, or even a late Beatles, style with its psychedelic keyboards and vocals. The keyboards have a carnival tone to it, until the chorus. This, again, impressed me with the different directions the band was going, which carried into the next album Revolution. This is a more pop than hard rock song, and the experimental sound is an enjoyable listen. “Let The Good Times Roll” is another straight up rock song, like track three. This is just a party song where the narrator worked all week long and wants to go to the rock show and party, even having to tell the boss “no” when he/she calls. Kelly‘s guitar solo adds fun to the song. Although not as strong as an anthem like “Up All Night,” the attempt is still there. This would be a great song in a live setting, of course by 1995, the musical themes of wanting to rock and roll and party was wavering for most acts, but it still appeals to us that like solid, feel good rock to chase the everyday stress away.
“Breakdown ‘N’ Cry” takes the album into yet another avenue. This time it’s a blues/ballad with the strong drum beat of Elias and a cleaner guitar sound. The song is almost six minutes long, but doesn’t feel like it. The production of the bass is a little bit low on the song, as opposed to a normal blues song where the bass and drums are up front and full of power. I would like to hear more bass in the mix, but again the album takes the listener into many different journeys musically. The sound effects at the beginning of the songs comes back with “Hard Times,” where several political figures in history are heard talking. This has a chugging guitar and simple lyrics. This may be my least favorite song on the whole album, not because of the musicianship, because the quality is still there like the other tracks, but the lyrics are a little too simple for me (and I like simple lyrics for the most part). It’s rare that every song on an album is likeable for the most part, and the good thing is the placing of the song isn’t enough to skip over even though it’s my least enjoyed track.
“Divine Order” is one of two instrumentals on the album. It is only around one minute, but doesn’t really need to be added onto the album as a whole, because it is not setting up anything. It seems just placed to fill a spot. “Yesterday’s Gone” may be the hidden gem on the album for me. The many influences and directions the band was going on this album (maybe it was intentional or just me reading into it) makes this album enjoyable. This song is an acoustic flavored track similar to something Cinderella would put out. The lyrical content by Dana and Mark, using a guy named Jesse, from “nowhere USA,” seems to come from the Jon Bon Jovi songwriting school with an everyday , simple man in the story wanting more in life. The song describes Jesse leaving his past behind and heading off to somewhere else is an underrated song lyrically and musically for those, again, who think the band was just a glam band coming too late to the dance, and gives a theme of hope.
The second instrumental, just titled “Prelude,” has the movie soundtrack vibe to it, with more guitars and music that could be played during the credits of a film. This song then sets up “Outta My Head,” which could’ve been a hit if it was recorded a few years earlier (or with a heavy label push), with its different tempo style — one during the verses and the other changes during the choruses. The song is a short one, under four minutes, and no filler. The last track goes back to the style of the first one, with a heavy ending to the record. “Unknown Destination” starts with an introduction with a set up like the dawn before a war, and Strum‘s bass being heavy and more in the mix. I could sense by reading the lyrics that this could be an ode to Iron Maiden. Musically it is strong and hard; filled with lyrics referring to travelers, gold, and feasts that give it a medieval tone to it, hence the Maiden connection. Strum impresses on this song, along with the whole band, proving their musical talents throughout. After the song finishes, there are chants at the end. This may be one of their most heaviest songs the band recorded. It ends the album on a strong note.
Fear No Evil goes in several paths musically, which may have been why the album went under the radar. This attempt is what gives the appeal to me listening to it years later. The musicianship is solid, showing not only the great songwriting, but it made me realize how underrated the late Tim Kelly was on this album. If you thought Slaughter was just a band with a high ranged singer and party songs, this album is the one to listen to that will definitely change your mind, and may convince you why I feel Slaughter was underappreciated. The collectiveness of musical styles, songwriting, and quality performances, gives this release nothing to fear in letting the listener enjoy a well recorded experience from an act that should get more love.
01. Live Like There’s No Tomorrow
02. Get Used To It
04. It’ll Be Alright
05. Let The Good Times Roll
06. Breakdown n’ Cry
07. Hard Times
08. Divine Order
09. Yesterday’s Gone
11. Outta My Head
12. Unknown Destination
Mark Slaughter – lead vocals, guitars, keyboards
Tim Kelly – lead guitar, vocals
Dana Strum – bass, vocals
Blas Elias – drums, percussion, vocals
Produced and arranged by Dana Strum and Mark Slaughter
Recorded and mixed by Dana Strum
Reviewed by Lance Lumley for Sleaze Roxx, May 2020
Slaughter‘s “Searchin'” video:
Slaughter “Searchin” Video from the CD “Fear No Evil”