Slauter Xstroyes - Free the Beast. 1987 USA
CD issues: 1998 Monster; 2009 Forged in Fire/Rockadrome
LP issue: 2009 Forged in Fire/Steel Legacy
Slauter Xstroyes were a metal band from Chicago that toiled in the 80s underground for a few years before dissipating into the wilds. Free the Beast is an archival recording made up of primarily what was to be their second album in 1987. In addition to the 33 minutes of quality studio material, the album is doubled in length with demo's going back as far as 1981. The metal music on display here is highly inventive, at the earliest days of what would be later known as prog metal, but much rawer and authentic than that tag usually implies. SX (as they were often referred as) were created from the same cloth as Fates Warning, Brocas Helm, Manilla Road, and others who were adding unique elements to a traditional metal sound. The riffs are crunching, and meter shifts are exciting and natural. This is the kind of music that takes many listens to absorb. John Stewart's screaming vocals will break glass, while Brent Sullivan's bass work predates John Myung's jazz fusion style. Somewhere between 70s Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Fates Warning, Helstar, Mercyful Fate, and even Watchtower, one will find the sound of Slauter Xstroyes. Superb.
An interesting side note, for me at least, is that I never even heard of this band back in the 1980s. Now I'm sure that might seem obvious on first glance, except I had a voracious appetite for metal in the middle 80s while still in college, and I was reading every English language magazine I could get my hands on back then (Metal Forces, Kerrang, and any cheap looking rag). Even bands like Sacred Blade hit my radar. But not Slauter Xstroyes. And sure enough, apparently the only media coverage the band received was from the Dutch mag Aardschok. I mention it, because Free the Beast (and presumably their debut Winter Kill, though I have yet to hear it) is exactly the type of metal I was looking for. I was tired of the norm, and bands like Fates Warning were much more interesting to me. The exciting aspect about it for a collector like me is that there were others just like SX back in the day, and they have been (or probably will be) exposed.
The CD on Forged in Fire (Rockadrome - Monster V 2.0) is awesome, with great sound, a history, and two lengthy interviews from the founding band members that are very insightful.