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Avenger - Killer Elite (Reissue)

Killer Elite (Reissue)
by Dave Nowels at 26 June 2018, 7:18 AM

“Killer Elite” was the sophomore album release from NWOBHM pioneers AVENGER. Originally released in 1985, the album has just been re-issued by Dissonance Productions in expanded CD and LP formats. “Killer Elite” featured the same line-up as AVENGER’s debut album, “Blood Sports”, and should have been the band’s chance to secure a dedicated following in the United States among young fans rabid for the new sounds of metal coming from across the pond. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out as planned. Following the recording and release of “Killer Elite”, and before the US tour, guitarist Les Cheetham was replaced by Gary Reiter, and founding member was replaced on drums by Darren Kurland. Sadly, this was the beginning of the end for AVENGER. The band returned following the US tour and broke up.

“Killer Elite” is a solid effort, though it lacks the originality of “Blood Sports”. Opening with “Revenge Attack”, AVENGER continues where they left off. A full throttle drum and bass rhythm attack, with classic metal guitar solos that scream. Vocalist Ian Swift reminds me very much of Iron Maiden’s original vocalist Paul Di’Anno. Though lacking the high end range, other than occasional screams, Swift does his work on the low end. One of my highlights was “Brand Of Torture” which is also featured as a live bonus track. But my favorite tracks are easily “Face To The Ground” and “M.M. 85”. Both tracks are fast, furious and well, in your face. I could see these songs as being head banging standouts on the US tour. “Yesterday’s Heroes” is the quintessential Metal power ballad, and another favorite.

“Killer Elite” is indeed a solid release, though it lacks some of the spark established by “Blood Sports”. Both of these re-issues suffer from some less than ideal re-mastering of the vocals, but perhaps that’s to be expected for thirty year old recordings, likely not mastered under the best conditions originally. AVENGER has seen a revival of sorts, having reformed in 2005. As of 2007 the line-up includes Swift on vocals and original drummer Gary Young back on the drum stool.  In closing, it was a treat to revisit this recording. Though there are imperfections, to be sure. But AVENGER deserves to be heard and treated as one of the fathers of NWOBHM that they are.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Revenge Attack
2. Run For Your Life
3. Brand Of Torture
4. Steel On Steel
5. (Fight For) The Right To Rock
6. Hard Times
7. Under The Hammer
8. Face To The Ground
9. Dangerous Games
10. Yesterday’s Heroes
11. M.M. 85
12. Sawmill
13. Brand Of Torture (Hot ‘n’ Heavy show ’85) Bonus Track
14. Rough Ride (demo ’83) Bonus Track
Ian Swift – Vocals
Les Cheetham – Guitars
Mick Moore – Bass
Gary Young – Drums
Record Label: Dissonance Productions


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