Lz Rockit

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City's Gonna Burn

Lz Rockit - City's Gonna Burn ©1984 Target
1. City's Gonna Burn
2. Caught In The Act
3. Take No Prisoners
4. Dead Man's Eyes
5. Forced To Fight
6. Silent Scream
7. Prelude
8. Something More

There are debut albums that can turn the musical world on its ear and then there are those that are just laughable. Lääz Rockit's 1984 debut, City's Gonna Burn is unfortunately one of the latter entrances onto the heavy metal stage. Rife with heavy metal cliches and every cumbersome trapping of the style, this album is simply rotten through and through. Granted, it was made by youngsters who were earnest and sincere, but it's not the sort of thing that ages well. Although the band would grow into and become a credible Bay Area thrash outfit, City's Gonna Burn is more rooted in the orthodox heavy metal of the era. Hints of speed metal and thrash do enter the picture here in there, such as "Take No Prisoners", but generally, the music sticks to genre stipulations. The vocals are overblown and warbling, the songs incorporate all the staples of basic metal, and the songwriting is just flat.

City's Gonna Burn is one of those albums that highlights all the pitfalls metal bands faced in the mid-80s. Lääz Rockit had not yet established a real identity and it is displayed in spades here. This unfortunately would be one of those records made fun of by ironic hip trendy scenester types today, except that it's still a pretty obscure release, even by Lääz Rockit's standards. The good news for the band is that they could only get better from this point, and they did.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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No Stranger To Danger

Lz Rockit - No Stranger to Danger ©1985 Target
1. Dreams Die Hard
2. I've Got Time
3. Town to Town
4. Backbreaker
5. Stand Alone
6. Spared From the Fire
7. Off the Deep End
8. Tonight Alive
9. Wrecking Machine

No doubt being surrounded by the burgeoning Bay Area thrash scene helped modify Lz Rockit's sound on their second album, No Stranger to Danger. In fact, you can certainly hear a change from the band's initial traditional metal approach on City's Gonna Burn. Unfortunately, for the most part, the band fails in both styles on this album, showing they neither were all that great at more traditional 80s metal nor had they grasped the fury of thrash metal. The resulting album one that shows occasional flashes of somewhat passable music but mostly dithers around.

What wrecks this album is the fact you can tell the band wasn't completely divorced from the glam metal influence. At the time, Motley Crue was becoming superstars. Lz Rockit still seemed as though they were straddling the fence to see which style might be more lucrative. (Oddly, they opted for the less profitable one, but maybe the Exodus fanbase threatened Lz Rockit with fisticuffs if they kept any glam influence.) No Stranger to Danger suffers from many bad metal-isms. Singer Michael Coons was not very convincing with his wailing and often just inflicts pain in the eardrums. "Town to Town" simply has idiotic lyrics. Even on the better songs, such as the opener "Dreams Die Hard", you can hear the band hover around a great musical idea but ultimately they demonstrate the inability to actually nail it down. "Backbreaker" is an honest attempt to incorporate more speed and thrash metal elements into their songwriting and it nearly works. But at this point in their career, they were simply too inept to pull it off. And some of these songs are utterly dreadful: "Tonight Alive" and "Stand Alone" sound like a parody of 80s metal.

Back in the late 80s when I was spending most of my meager allowance on heavy metal albums, I used to occasionally ponder buying this when I saw it in the stores. I am proud to say that I spent my money far more wisely back then. I wouldn't even recommend this as a free download from a shady share blog. This is one band who took years to finally develop a decent sound and the steps to get there were quite ugly.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2010

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Know Your Enemy

Lz Rockit - Know Your Enemy ©1987 Enigma
1. Demolition
2. Last Breath
3. Euroshima
4. Most Dangerous Game
5. Shot To Hell
6. Say Goodbye M.F.
7. Self Destruct
8. Means To An End
9. I'm Electric
10. Mad Axe Attack
11. Shit's Ugly

By 1987, Lääz Rockit had developed into a better outfit than their tepid debut, City's Gonna Burn. (It should be noted I have not heard their second LP, No Stranger to Danger, as of this writing. In fact, the last time I saw a copy of it in a store, it was probably 1990.) However, despite improvements, Know Your Enemy still falls into the category of "Dated 80s Metal Albums". The band, hailing from the Bay Area of California, was surrounded by stalwarts of the thrash metal world, but only timidly allowed thrash elements into their music. For the most part, Know Your Enemy sticks to a more orthodox heavy metal sound, complete with the vibrato wailing vocals and riffs designed for arenas the size of a baseball stadium. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the album is the over the top vocal approach of Michael Coons. While metal is obviously a genre where over the top is the norm, his caterwauling is just too much for these old ears. As with many albums, my main gripe is the lack of a few really good songs that shine through the window decoration that is 80s Metal In Your Face. Very little on this album makes me want to pull it back out for another listen. Granted, Know Your Enemy is something I might have liked more back when I was fifteen and eager to hear all things metal, but let's face it, some albums simply don't age gracefully. This just happens to be one of them.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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Annihilation Principle

Lz Rockit - Annihilation Principle ©1989 Enigma
1. Fire In The Hole
2. Mob Justice
3. Chain Of Fools
4. Shadow Company
5. Holiday In Cambodia
6. Bad Blood
7. Chasin' Charlie
8. Mirror To Madness
9. The Omen

Based in the same fertile scene that provided the world with the likes Exodus, Testament and all other purveyors of "Bay Area Thrash", Lääz Rockit was one of the better second tier bands of the time period. The band actually even released their debut, City's Gonna Burn, before Exodus could get their seminal Bonded By Blood into the record stores. However, it's almost unnecessary to say who comes first to the tips of everyone's tongues when you think of Bay Area Thrash (particularly since City's Gonna Burn had a bigger footprint in traditional metal than thrash).

Lääz Rockit's sound was definitely quite reminiscient of their peers, firmly fixed in the Testament territory with a bit more of a classic metal tinge to the music. Vocalist Michael Coons is quite similar to Metal Church's Mike Howe, an affected higher pitched howl that was also able to carry a melody fairly well. Annihilation Principle was the band's fourth full-length and featured probably some of the best artwork of 1989 with its creepy industrial/chemical pollution layout. Believe me, that was a selling point for metalhead teenagers everywhere. In fact, it's still one of my favorite covers in metal.

Lääz Rockit tended to keep away from the speedracers in thrash metal, sticking to more of a midpaced crunch and riff-o-rama. That is not to say their music lacks energy. A couple songs, such as "Shadow Company", bog down a bit, but "Chasin' Charlie" and "Mob Justice" have plenty of juice. The album closes with an oddity for the time: "The Omen" is a softer, more somber number but entirely avoids the "power ballad" clichè. The album also features a metalized cover of Bay Area legends Dead Kennedys' "Holiday In Cambodia".

One of the drawbacks to Annihilation Principle is the moderately muddy production, which seems to compress the sound a bit too much. It does dull the impact to a small degree. Otherwise, this album is one of the better second tier Bay Area thrash releases and worth tracking down.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2008

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