Banshee

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.

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