ALBUM REVIEW: Hallows Eve – Tales of Terror (Reissue)

Hallows Eve was quite an anomaly back in the halcyon days of Eighties Heavy Metal. Even going by the standards of a time when subgenres were still nebulous and ill-defined, the Atlantans’ approach was difficult to pin down. Utilizing familiar tropes in unfamiliar ways, their Alice Cooper-inspired horror theatrics set them apart from their Speed Metal peers while their Punk attitude was a far cry from King Diamond. Their 1985 debut album, Tales Of Terror (Metal Blade Records), is easily the rawest and arguably the most endearing iteration of their Horror Metal formula.

The thing that stands out the most about this album is its sheer variety. Despite featuring eight songs that total to less than a half-hour, the band seems to tackle just about every genre under the heavy umbrella. ‘Plunging To Megadeath’ makes for an especially intense first impression as its thrashing tempo and grunted vocals hint at early Death Metal while ‘The Outer Limits’ and ‘Horrorshow’ are Punk anthems that build off of what The Misfits had done before them. The album also shows a more ambitious side as ‘The Mansion’ plays out like a Maiden-esque mini-epic that is expanded upon with an overbearing sense of atmosphere on the band’s self-titled song.

This variety extends to the band’s musicianship. With bassist Tommy Stewart’s Motorhead-esque bass runs serving as a distorted foundation, the guitars are free to build off the rhythms and go into faster riffs or over the top leads. This ultimately culminates in Stacy Andersen’s vocal performance as he runs through a mix of grunts, barks, warbles, rapid-fire exclamations, howling falsettos, and even a bit of horror narration. The vocals alone can make this a love it or hate it affair, but a combination of raw production and commitment to the aesthetic keeps things from going off the rails.

But like any band attempting so much on their first rodeo, they’re bound to bite off a bit more than they can chew. The band doesn’t always have the technical skill to fully realize the scope of their visions and there are several instances where the vocals attempt to reach for a note they can’t quite hit or fumble because there were too many words to sing in a given lyric. It’s a very dated album whose naivete can be felt throughout; I especially love how ‘Metal Merchants’ pairs its anthemic buildup with the sort of True Metal gatekeeping lyrics that would make Manowar blush. They just don’t make them like this anymore, do they?

While I personally think Hallows Eve was at their best with 1986’s Death And Insanity, Tales Of Terror is a charming display of Horror Metal. Any flaws that this album has are similar to the many B-movies that it was clearly inspired by, potentially off-putting to those not in the know but ultimately revealing a great deal of personality to those in its niche. The performances are amateurish, and the songwriting isn’t all the way there, but these elements end up combining to form an even more memorable experience. Put it alongside Nasty Savage and Rigor Mortis on your next Eighties Slasher soundtrack.

 

7 / 10

CHRIS LATTA