For over 30 years Heavy Metal — the sci-fi/fantasy comic — has graced comic shop shelves with visceral covers featuring Adonis-like men with rippling muscles and svelte, pointy-breasted semi-naked women. This year Heavy Metal has released a soundtrack of metal and electronica to accompany its first web comic: Gates. If that wasn’t cool enough, all net proceeds go towards the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund.
Gates is dedicated to the art of Frank Frazetta and the music of Ronnie James Dio, and is also, according to its creator Hal Hefner, an homage to the soundtrack of the Heavy Metal film from the 1980s. Releasing an album almost as a companion piece to a 30-year-old soundtrack might seem like a strange idea. Taken on its own, Gates Volume 1 – Ascension is a good collection of tracks.
Deltanaut’s “The King” with its strangely sexy Michael Bolton sax licks (wait, did I just say ‘Michael Bolton’ and ‘sexy’ in the same sentence? Bloody hell, don’t tell anyone) sounds like it was performed in a seedy jazz club; it feels beautifully dirty and is a great blues rock track. Deltanaut also boasts an ex-member of Megadeth in drummer Nick Menza.
Some of them, including the soppy “Fools Bleed” by Black ‘N Blue and Prince-lite Friend Slash Lover’s “Where Have I Been All My Life” feel slightly out of place. While not particularly bad songs — “Fools Bleed” is a fine, but not very exciting hard rock song — they don’t quite fit, feeling a little too straight forward. They don’t quite match the strange atmospherics of Jordan Reyne’s “The Washing Machine Song” or the blasting black metal of Elysion Fields’ “Of Titans.”
If “The Entity (Ghostly Lust)” is not an ideal track title for a sci-fi fantasy compilation then I don’t know what is. Shame the song by Rusty Eye (Ewww…) does not quite match. The headbanging insanity of “This Violent Earth” by Havoc Hate (surprisingly it is not a folk band) is the track of the album. Fast, heavy, excellent.
No, it’s not perfect but soundtracks rarely are. But, to discover some bands that many will never have heard and to put some money towards a very good cause, Gates Volume 1 – Ascension is well worth checking out.