October 31 – Bury the Hatchet (Hells Headbangers)

Thursday, 28th August 2014
Rating: 8/10

King Fowley and his passion for heavy metal is indisputable. Opinionated, outspoken, and bleeding tooth and nail for the cause, he’s been responsible for many classic albums in my collection either through talk in interviews/social media, his own label releases, or of his own creation. October 31 is his pure heavy metal group, starting in 1995 at a time in America when those two words were indeed dirty in the label world (guitar solos? Clean singing? Unfathomable!), carving out a devoted following the old fashion way: show by show.

The fourth studio album Bury the Hatchet comes nine years after their last impressive effort, 2005’s energetic No Survivors. Keeping the pedal to the metal with no superfluous set ups or unimaginative intros, “Tear Ya Down” roars in homage to their namesake and their take no prisoners outlook on live shows from East Coast to West Coast, overseas to your living room. A murderous storyline and equally spooky narrative element keeps the up-tempo, double bass fueled “Down at Lover’s Lane” another headbangers’ delight, keyboards punctuating the pre-chorus in a subtle manner.

King would readily admit that he is not in the Biff Byford, Rob Halford, or Bruce Dickinson class of traditional power singers – he goes more based on attitude, feel, and spunk – similar to the Lemmy/Lips mold of yesteryear. Where I think he excels is phrasing and imagery- bringing the visions to life as you see the ‘vats of acid’ and ‘corpses lying on the floor’ for “The House Where Evil Dwells”, made only that much stronger through Brian ‘Hellstorm’ Williams crazy axe technique and a Maiden-like bass charge from Jim Hunter.

Raven, Exciter, Saxon, Anvil, and others in that early to mid-80’s classic heavy metal mold with occasional bursts of speed come up throughout Bury the Hatchet’s 10 songs. Always willing to push out a chestnut from the history of hard rock/metal, “Under the Gun” from Arizona’s Icon gets an October 31 run through, a little more aggressive and benefiting from the gritty makeover. Favorites include the mysterious “Arsenic on the Rocks” as well as the punchy, shape shifting title cut, the latter again featuring frantic whammy bar action from Brian.

October 31 stride along, unaffected by any particular hot genre bending maneuvers that may take place. Let’s just hope that the fifth album comes at a little quicker pace; the river rats and earth dogs need their fix a touch faster than 2024.

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