Hellion - Screams in the Night (New Renaissance Records) 1987
1. "Screams in the
Hellion are one of the few bands from the 1980's that featured a female vocalist whose music wasn't wimpy, glossy, pop metal. Yes, I know that Doro and Wendy O fans might disagree, but Wendy's solo stuff wasn't nearly as metalic as Hellion and even Doro's Warlock weren't as heavy and dark as Hellion. "Screams in the Night" is headbanging, fist pumping, heavy metal. The songwriting features a ton of sing along choruses and guitar playing that echoes Randy Rhoads. (I've read that guitarist Chet Thompson was a student of Rhoads and can certainly believe it from hearing this.) The only song that even hints at commercialism is "Easy Action". This song actually could have been a hit for a more well known band, but as it stands is a great heavy metal anthem. My favorite track is probably album closer "The Tower of Air". The galloping riffs, slow plodding pace and dark feel reminds me of something Rainbow might have recorded with Dio on "Rainbow Rising". Other standout cuts are the title track, "Put the Hammer Down" and "Bad Attitude".
This CD was nearly impossible to find for years but was finally re-issued in an autographed (by Ann Boleyn), numbered, limited edition from New Renaissance in 1999. My copy is 329. One thing to note about this CD is that all 11 tracks present on the vinyl version released back in 1987 even though only nine songs are listed on the track listing. The 2 tracks not listed in the content are "Upside Down Guitar Solo" (between "Better Off Dead" and "The Hand") and "Stick 'em" (between "Put The Hammer Down" and "Children Of The Night"). Unfortunately the new CD does not sound like it has been remastered.
Powergod recorded a cover of "Better Off Dead".
Hellion - The Black Book (Restless) 1991
Bought this CD off ebay in the original long box. On the box in big bold letters it states "Real Metal, Not Corporate Hard Rock Crap." That is certainly an understatment. I'm not sure how I missed it all these years. It's unfortunate that metal bands with female vocalists are generally dismissed because not only does she do an awesome job of singing on this disc, but "The Black Book" is among the most under-rated heavy metal albums ever. Other than the Spinal Tap-ish album cover, this album is pretty much flawless. The guitar work is excellent, the production seemless but heavy, and the songwriting keeps your attention without being overtly commercial or poppy. "The Black Book" is a concept album based around a novel written by vocalist Ann Boleyn, although I don't find the story line anywhere near as interesting as the music itself. I can't really say enough good things about this disc. If REAL heavy metal is your game, then hunt down a copy of this disc. It'll be worth your time and investment.
Jay Schellen of Hurricane fame played guitar on "Black Book".
Hellion - Up From the Depths (New Renaissance/CDR) 1998
A numbered, limited-edition compilation CD of rare Hellion tracks. My copy is # 1091/3000. Includes a smokin' cover of Judas Priest's "Exciter". Track 1: from the homonymous Hellion/Bitch split-single, Tracks 2-5: from the self-titled Mini-LP (4-song version), Tracks 6-9: from the Postcard From the Asylum EP (which I also have on vinyl). Overall, just some solid, classic, L.A. heavy metal with screaming vocals from vocalist Ann Boleyn. The booklet contains a fairly detailed biography of the band as well as some vintage photos.
Hellion - Cold Night in Hell (New Renaissance) 2002
1. Run For Your Life"
Limited edition live EP from Hellion. Unfortunately this CD is equivalent to a bootleg, although it is an officially released CD from Anne's own New Renaissance Records. The recording is not of a professional quality, although it's not totally unlistenable either. It sounds like an audience recording and indeed was taken from a VHS video. The show was recorded live at the Country Club in California on Dec.22, 1984. On a positive note, the band's performance on this night was excellent. They were tight and sounded like a band that had been touring together for months. Also, there are a few songs here that never made it to a Hellion record. These might have made nice bonus tracks on a re- release of the first 6-song EP. The insert includes lyrics, photos and a length bio pertaining to the disc. Unfortunately even the insert comes off as 'bootleg-ish" with several obvious typos. "Cold Night in Hell" is a collector's disc for die-hard Hellion fans, but not much else.
Ann Boleyn/Hellion - Queen of Hell (New Renaissance) 2000
1. "Break The Spell"
Hellion are a traditional metal band that features the outstanding Ann Boleyn on vocals. Unlike many other female fronted 'metal' bands, Hellion remained a true heavy metal band. "Queen of Hell" is a decent career retrospective/anthology of Hellion with songs listed in chronological order. The first edition of this CD is numbered and autographed. My copy is #843. New Renaissance seems to specialize in these limited edition/numbered releases. My favorite material here are the two songs from "The Black Book" (Tracks 10 & 11) and the amazingly strong cover of Judas Priest's "Exciter". The CD finishes off with a song that is said to be a demo from an upcoming album, which was the 2003 album "Will Not Go Quietly. It is a great classic metal song.
Hellion - Will Not Go Quietly (Massacre Records) 2003
1. Will Not Go Quietly
/ Resurrection 05:59)
On "Will No Go Quietly", Ann Boleyn and company deliver an album that is dark, moody and melodic, traditional heavy metal. Much like "Black Book" I found this album to be almost spell binding. The songs draw you in within a listen or two and really just hold my interest for the entirety of the album. Ann's vicious, biting vocals are both emotional, yet without sounding sugary sweet or like the current crop of psuedo-goth, girls fronting metal bands. There is nothing psuedo about this album. This is real heavy metal. Hellion don't seem concerned with following any trends, choosing instead to fly their heavy metal banner high. It's not until "User 7" that this disc even slows down. From tracks 1 through 9, Hellion offer what amounts to fist clenching, head banging, heavy metal. With "User 7" the band slips into an odd power ballad that sounds almost like a mixture of stripper music and the blues. The album finishes off with a number that could have easily been on "Screams in the Night". The song titles sounds a bit cliché, reminding me of Grim Reaper, but the lyrics actually seem to be about emotionally separating from someone that has caused deep pain. The song itself is heavy, melodic and quite enjoyable, especially for those of us who long for the classic 80's metal sound.