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Renegade - Social Pressure (Reissue)

Social Pressure (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 12 November 2018, 6:53 PM

It is one of those first times that I took a notice to a remake of an 80s band's album artwork. Let's face it, the late US Metal act, RENEGADE, did not really have an actual artwork to their debut, and only, album “Social Pressure”. Needless to say that the band itself was a short-lived venture that took a different turn to focus on unrelated Metal material, even changing its name in the process. Anyhow, back to the artwork. Thanks to Heaven And Hell Records, a reissue of “Social Pressure”, originally released in 1988, is out and along with it, a shiny modern artwork that matches to perfection to the album's title. I have no idea whether the band members ever thought back then that one day people would be obsessed by their smartphones or not, but I would vote for this drawing to the pantheon.

Done with the arts and into the music we dive, prepare yourselves, another rattle coming your way. “Social Pressure” is another chip of what the Metal scene in the US was like from the mid to end of the 80s. Stuff became intense, US born and bred Power Metal became heavier, on the Thrash verge, yet also inhibited elements of progression, taking the music into a higher level. RENEGADE joined numerous bands such as HADES and WATCHTOWER, showing tremendous musicianship skills, portraying a rather complex songwriting that is bound to hint IRON MAIDEN / early METAL CHURCH / early HEATHEN. On a personal note, too bad that the majority of the bands that juiced Power Metal were mostly forgotten, or gone to the backs of history books.

“Social Pressure” may not share a sound that would sit well with modern Metal listeners, especially those that value polished sound and perfect mix. Nonetheless, its rawness feel and crunch, made it a true 80s nostalgia. Material wise, RENEGADE destroyed with intense melodies and wild soloing showcases. Whether in a song or instrumentals, they wasted no time on merely playing rhythm riffs, choosing to throw chunks of energetic lead guitar melodies. Furthermore, the swift shift in tempos and diverse song structures made it a small challenge to listen to, yet I didn't expect to be at ease in the first place.

One of my favorites were the instrumental “The Final Day”, which reminded me at first, in its opening verse, the intro to METAL CHURCH's “Beyond The Black”, sailing in the same doomsday reality as the classic. I believe this number to be one of best 80s instrumentals I listened to in a while. “Shrapnel Symphony” is one of the maniacal in the fold. It has amazing dynamics, explosive with its vast selection of classic riffery and flamboyant soloing and fine vocal performance. I found it to be a peak of the band's impressive musicianship abilities. Sure that there a mistakes here and there, and it actually goes for nearly the entire tracklist, but it felt natural to me, also bear in mind that end result is crushing. I would also recommend: “Yo Ho Ho”, “Held Hostage” and “Social Pressure”.

Featured in this reissue are four out of five demo tracks dating back to 1986. Right before the band started its musical progress, it was more or less straight up Traditional Metal. Too bad that songs as “Killer Eyes” and “Renegade” didn’t make the cut for the full length album two years after, however, the demo quality is good enough to comprehend that things look brighter for the band in the short run.

There should be no doubt about it, additional long gone bands such as RENEGADE need to be surfaced, and the earlier the better. As for “Social Pressure”, another discovery for yours truly, an above solid release with quite an enticing form of melodic Metal.


4 Star Rating

1. Hobbit
2. Held Hostage
3. Yo Ho Ho
4. The Final Day
5. Promised Land
6. Shrapnel Symphony
7. Is Someone Out There?
8. Social Pressure
9. Killer Eyes (Demo 1986)
10. All Talk, No Action (Demo 1986)
11. Promised Land (Demo 1986)
12. Renegade (Demo 1986)
Randy Diderrich - Vocals / Guitars
Paul Finley - Guitars
Rick Diderrich - Bass
Brad Hazelton - Drums
Record Label: Heaven And Hell Records


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