Bitch: Be My Slave / Damnation Alley

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Bitch: Be My Slave / Damnation Alley
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Bitch: Be My Slave / Damnation Alley
Heavy Metal
Metal Blade Records
August 2nd, 2011
Release length: 1:14:31
Myspace
Website
Bitch, a name that many die hard eighties Heavy Metal fans know well, but many other wouldn’t really be familiar with. This female fronted Metal act from Los Angeles, California, was known more for their live shows and lyrics that had over-the-top relations to bondage and the vocalist acting as a dominatrix. Originally formed in 1981, and apparently still active according to some websites out there, the band issued two full-length recordings under the Bitch monicker, as well as a third under the name Betsy, and a debut EP titled Damnation Alley, their first non-demo release that hit in 1982. For 2011, that EP, as well as the band’s debut full-length offering Be My Slave have been slapped together onto one CD clocking in at roughly seventy four plus minutes, all digitally remastered. Is it time for Bitch to shine with the reissuing of these releases, or will this just be another drop in the bucket that will go unnoticed by anyone who already isn’t a fan of the band’s work?

Obviously the reissue is split up into two different parts, but all on one CD. The first set of tracks comes off the debut full-length recording Be My Slave, and not the actual Damnation Alley EP that preceeds the recording. This set has a pretty solid recording quality to begin with, having that early eighties feel but top notch quality for it’s time, and on this release it’s gotten slightly better and slightly worse. The audio quality sounds much clearer and sharper, which really shines through with the guitars. The bass still doesn’t seem to have much of a presence in this remastered version, which is sad, but the drum kit sounds good, everything being a little louder then the initial recording, and even a little more crisp. The vocals are also about the same, just a little clearer and crisp. The overall sound is also a little louder, and sometimes you can feel like you’re picking up on white noise, and sometimes you really hear it, like with “Right from the Start”. Luckily this doesn’t last and many other songs lack that static sound to them.

Musically, the album borders between the Hard Rock meets NWOBHM sound, and a more Punk influenced Heavy Metal approach. “Right from the Start” takes that early dirtier Rock sound into consideration, which works well with the lyrical content and rougher vocal performance, leading to a very catchy song from start to finish that has a decent heaviness to it with plenty of moments you’ll catch yourself headbanging to. However, the title track, “Be My Slave”, takes things into a different direction. The song leaves behind sme of the dirtier Rock elements that made “Right from the Start” so great, and comes off with a bit of a cleaner Punk influence with clean singing that captures the spirit of that style around that time. It’s as good a song as “Right from the Start”, and has a little more of a rebellious sound to it, and the vocals are far more energetic, though sometimes can be a little off key with the music.

Be My Slave also features some of the band’s greatest recordings, all of which are just great to hear, coming off a very catchy and strong kick in the ass of classic Heavy Metal. “Right from the Start” is a great example of the better material the band has to offer, but “Leather Bound” is another one that immediately grabs the listener. The song is insanely catchy with it’s more commanding Heavy Metal approach that could be compared, attitude-wise at least, as similar to “Hell Bent for Leather” by Judas Priest, and it’s faster pace just really gives the song a fantastic bite. The great clean singing of the chorus coupled with the somewhat rougher and more energetic vocals through the rest of the song really offer a great deal of variety to the trac as well, all setting the stage for a song that will stay lodged in your brain for weeks. You also can’t overlook the ballad track “Save You from the World”, a slower paced track that really has a good deal of emotion behind it and shows off the band’s more serious side with a strong Rock sound to it then a Heavy Metal one of any kind, showing off a bit of Glam Rock influence to it. Other then those songs, the rest of the album winds up being solid, but some of the Punk tracks can get a little too crazy with the vocals and their going off key a bit, all leaving Be My Slave to be a pleasurable experience that sounds a little better then the original, though honestly not by much.

After a solid closing with the stronger Rock anthem track “Make it Real (Make it Rock)” and more NWOBHM influenced “World War III”, the six tracks that make up the Damnation Alley EP kick in. The production quality to these a little more raw, yet sound a lot more professional then the Be My Slave quality. The vocals and drums on this release really stand out and are much more crisp and clear, as well as louder. The guitars, however, feel a little lacking and muffled in the background a little more then they should have been, not really having much of an edge to them. The bass is pretty loud in the mix too, being much louder compared to the guitars, and on tracks like “Saturdays”, it really makes a difference and just adds more to the music. The songs on the EP are not really the greatest, but definitely have more of a Hard Rock approach to them, and some do stand out well. The title track “Damnation Alley”, for example, is very catchy, though is a little lighter then other tracks due to it’s simpler musical approach and hook driven chorus, as well as the cleaner sound from the remastering that is done to it. There’s also “He’s Gone”, which is the first song on the EP to talk about bondage and S&M, having a bit of a Punk meets Rock feel with lyrics that go over the top and leave you cracking up laughing at times with lines like “He split me because I wanted him to hit me” through such an impressive clean singing vocal performance that would bring in thoughts of a performance worth of a Broadway musical. But, while these songs are still solid, there’s “Let’s Rock” that closes out the EP, which is a much more mainstream fun and upbeat Rock song that seems to greatly counter the rest of EP entirely.

Overall, Be My Slave & Damnation Alley is a nice collection of the band’s first two recordings, and it’s one that deserves to exist. The remix of the album enhances the quality, though sometimes on Be My Slave you can’t help but pick up on some white noise that lingered in due to the cleaner and slightly louder sound. If you haven’t heard these two releases before, now’s a good time to get them. There’s really no dramatic change that warrants you to rush out and buy this compilation other then to have these releases if you don’t own them already, and either versions are great to begin, it’s just this one sounds a little better in comparison, though the chorus on “Right from the Start” sounds pretty bad. This will be more of a judgement call for pre-existing fans, but for those who are new and consider themselves fans of Heavy Metal, older releases or newer ones, really should check this Bitch compilation release out the next chance you get. It’s classic material with a more over-the-top tongue-in-cheek approach that not many other bands have today, and a female vocalist who is actually really strong and gives a performance, especially for when these were released, that really stands the test of time.

Be My Slave:
01. Right from the Start – 5:08
02. Be My Slave – 4:41
03. Leather Bound – 4:19
04. Riding in Thunder – 3:57
05. Save You from the World – 5:41
06. Heavy Metal Breakdown – 5:35
07. Gimme a Kiss – 3:54
08. In Heat – 6:47
09. Make it Real (Make it Rock) – 3:57
10. World War III – 5:10

Damnation Alley:
11. Saturdays – 4:21
12. Never Come Home – 2:57
13. Damnation Alley – 4:03
14. He’s Gone – 3:40
15. Live for the Whip – 5:55
16. Let’s Go – 4:26

Overall Score: 8/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.