Race Against Time Banshee - Race Against Time (Atlantic) 1989

1.      Shoot Down the Night (3:51)
2.      All Alone (4:25)
3.      Race Against Time (3:33)
4.      Circular Flight of the One Winged Sparrow [instrumental] (1:38)
5.      Call of the Wild (3:31)
6.      Precious Metal (3:30)
7.      Desire (3:13)
8.      Get it on the Run (3:18)
9.      Missing You (5:36)
10.     Drive Like Hell (3:21)
11.     Desert Moon [instrumental] (1:04)

Banshee are an American heavy metal band. Their 1989 Atlantic Records release was their first full-length album after releasing their "Cry in the Night" EP a year earlier. It was also their major label debut. Their sound here is not far off from bands like Malice and Leatherwolf, combining melodic songwriting, heavy riffs and a pummeling rhythm section. At their heaviest they also remind me of Vicious Rumors.

"Race Against Time" opens with a barnstormer heavy metal track  titled "Shoot Down the Night" that is not only heavy but also has a big groove. "All Alone" follows and is another chugging, a bit more melodic. This song in particular reminds me of Leatherwolf. Vocalist Tommy Lee Flood has a slightly raspy voice that works well on both the heavier tracks as well as the more melodic numbers. The song has a nice commercial hook that is brought to life by some layered background vocals. "All Alone", as with much of the album, also features a fire-y guitar lead. The acoustic instrumental piece "Circular Flight.." acts as an intro for the upbeat, hard rocker "Call of the Wild". The song has a bit of a Van Halen influence complete with some Eddie Van Halen-style lead guitar antics."Precious Metal" is a heavier number but slows the tempo down. "Missing You" is the obligatory ballad on the album, though I quite like it.  "Drive Like Hell" is an up-tempo speed metal number driven by a steady double bass beat.  The album ends with a short bass solo outro.

Really, had "Race Against Time" been release in 1985 rather than 1989 I think Banshee could have been a household name. Unfortunately by 1989, thrash metal, glam metal and the beginnings of death metal were the more popular styles, leaving straight-forward heavy metal bands like Banshee and Leatherwolf out in the cold. It's a shame really, as "Race Against Time" is a stellar album.

Guilty As Charged Banshee - Take 'em By Storm (Snowblind) 1992

1.      Color Me (3:32)
2.      Fight (3:55)
3.      Memories (4:28)
4.      Running Wild (4:46)
5.      Stand Strong (3:44)
6.      The Spell (3:50)
7.      Desire (5:11)
8.      Livin' It Up (5:44)
9.      Locked Inside (4:17)
10.     Out For Love (4:17)
11.  Live For Music (The Slam) (4:29)

Banshee are a traditional, American heavy metal band with slight pop metal leanings. "Take 'em By Storm" was the band's third release. The band had previously been on Atlantic Records, but were dropped by a label looking for instant gratification and success. As such, Banshee forged ahead on an independent band.

For the most part, Banshee fall on the heavy side of straight-and-narrow traditional metal. However, songs like "Color Me", lean towards the pop side of the metal spectrum. The song is an anthem that starts off with a heavy riff, but then immediately slows the momentum with a Van Halen-esque hard rock riff during the first verse. The song builds to a catchy, sing-along chorus, "color me, oh color metal, through the night like a light, my music lets me see, color me, oh color metal, this is rock and roll and you can set me free." The chorus lets loose into a lethal guitar solo. Likewise, "Livin' It Up" and album closer "Live for Music (The Slam)" have that same anthem-esque quality. I'd describe these songs as a blend of Vicious Rumors and Motley Crue.

Songs such as "Running Wild", "Fight", "Locked Inside" and "Stand Strong" are more straight-forward heavy metal. "Running Wild", in both name and riffs, sports a bit of a Judas Priest vibe. Tommy Lee Flood has a versatile voice with a bit of grit for the heavier numbers, but he can also break out in a more melodic manner when needed. Of course, any American heavy metal band worth their stock in Aqua Net must have a ballad. "Memories" is a typical 80's style power ballad complete with melancholy chorus and melodic guitar solo. Frankly, the song feels a bit out of place on the album. Otherwise, I found this little underground gem to be a very enjoyable classic metal album.

Banshee - Mindslave
(independent) 2012

1. Taming the Beast (4:50)
2. Floodgates of Hell (5:00)
3. Mindslave (4:55)
4. King of Nothing (5:26)
5. Hangman Lies (4:21)
6. Full Circle (4:55)
7. Unearthed (4:46)
8. Legend Lost (5:10)
9. The Phalanx [instrumental] (3:10)
10. Halls of Karma [instrumental] (1:34)
11. Godless (5:04)

After a long absence, Banshee return with what could very well be their best studio album to date. The only member to remain from the band's major label days is guitarist Terry Dunn. Along for the ride this time is Chuck Hopkins (bass), Marty Schiermann (drums) and vocalist George Call. For those unfamiliar, Call is from the Call from underground Texas band Aska. As well drummer Dean Kinney who is only listed in the thank you list recorded five of the eleven tracks on this album. Musically Dunn and Company continue where they left off with Take 'Em By Storm (1992). The music fits squarely into the US power metal style while retaining all the melody and hooks that Banshee have always been known for. The sound is a bit tougher, there may be a bit more groove and the lyrics are perhaps little darker than their past albums, but overall Banshee still fits in that classic American power metal pocket along with bands like Vicious Rumors, Leatherwolf, and Helstar. Heavy, overdriven guitars, pounding drums, thunderous bass, screaming vocals and, of course, wicked guitar solos. George Call is a fantastic vocalist and really gives this album a ton of charisma. If I were to compare him to anyone I would say he is a cross of Tony Martin (Black Sabbath) with touches of Ronnie James Dio.

The album starts off with three crushing and heavy tracks back-to-back. "Taming the Best", "Floodgates of Hell" and the title track were all great choices to start this album off with. "Taming the Beast" has one of those galloping heavy metal riffs that draws classic metal fans in. "Floodgates" starts off with a minute-long, moody Sabbath-y intro before building into a mid-paced and crushing number. This song really reminds me of some of those forgotten Tony Martin Black Sabbath records. The heaviness continues with "Mindslave", another mid-paced and crushingly heavy track. "King of Nothing" has another creepy musical introduction before morphing into a melodic heavy metal romp that again has me thinking Sabbath. Once again Call's vocals are otherworldly. There are two instrumental tracks included on this album, the three minute long "The Phalanx" is quite good but probably could have been moved so that it wasn't next to the other instrumental titled "Halls of Karma". The later is a short guitar instrumental mixing acoustic guitars and electric guitars together weaving a very ominous and haunting sound. The song acts as an intro to the album's last track, "Godless" which is another hit-you-over-the-head, heavy number.

Had this album been released at another time with a bigger label I can't imagine that this album wouldn't be on the lips of just about every metal fan. It's just that good.

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