One of the most entertaining thing is discovering lesser known bands in the metal universe, or discovering bands from yesteryear that never quite got the attention they deserved for one reason or another. Fist is one of those lesser known bands, and it’s a bit of a sad tale given how good Turn the Hell On actually is. The band, as well as this release, just never received the commercial success it deserved, though it received much praise by critics. However, nearly thirty years later since it’s release, Turn the Hell On is given a second chance at life, a chance that it so greatly deserves.
Turn the Hell On clearly brings a more traditional sound to the mix given the time period it was recorded. While the Heavy Metal style was finding more dynamic acts, Fist‘s music was typically more accessable to the general Rock and Metal community. Much of the album relied on simple music that chugged along with a slight metal kick, having a great mixture of guitars and bass in the final mix that both elements stood out nicely with well paced drumming that kept the flow to these songs nicely. All of this is accompanied by clean singing vocals that sound exceptional against the music being played, for the most part performed in a manner that was expected of the style, even back then, but also had a rather unique sound pushing them, coming off rather soothing and perfectly harmonized against the music, while sometimes retaining a slight Hard Rock edge to them. “Forever Amber” is the perfect example of this, though many song follow the same formula for music and vocals, but it’s the chorus of the song that really drives everything home. The music picks up just a little more then the main verses, include some nice easy going guitar chords added to the chorus that reflect more of a Hard Rock feel then anything, with nicely layered clean vocals that are soothing and infectious to the point where all of this will leave the song stuck in the listeners head for a good while.
But, while these lighter, chugging songs are really the focus of the album and bring a light hearted sound to the album, there’s still some harder hitting tracks on here that greatly showed the band’s potential. The starting track “Hole in the Wall Gang” makes for a great welcome to the album, utilizing some simple guitars that still have enough of a bite to have you banging your heads along, as well as features a short but sweet guitar solo. This track, however, doesn’t really compare to the insanely catch “You’ll Never Get Me Up (In One Of Those)”, which is also the fastest track off the album. But, what really makes these songs stand out is the bass groove incorporated into many of the songs, especially with the faster tracks as it manages to create a whole other layer to the music in general. In the slower songs, like “Axeman”, however, it just really compliments the guitars nicely, staying with the basic chords but really branching off moreso from the general chords and adding that same kind of bass groove to the mix that shows a little more technicality in the music, and is what really makes these songs addicting in the first place. Of course, in the vase of “The Vamp”, it’s the odd vocal performance during the pre-chorus bridge that sounds like a cleanly sung gang chant by one person, but it fits so nicely in that spot that it adds an unforgettable moment to the music that will have that, and the actual chorus, stuck in your head.
With the 2010 reissue from Metal Mind Productions, you get a nice piece of metal history done right. Turn the Hell On, first of all, is remastered and pressed on a gold disc, and it sounds absolutely fantastic. This edition comes in a nice digipack casing, which has a short band biography printed on the inside of the itself, as well as two bonus tracks: “Brain Damage” and “Law of the Jungle”. Both of these songs were also made available on the Japanese 1995 reissue through MCA records, and they both sound more like demo tracks, but there’s no denying how great they are. “Brain Damage” is honestly one of the most addicting songs on here, though the guitars sound a little muffled, but the vocals and drums are top notch, and the chorus is as powerful as it is catchy. The same can be said about the music for “Law of the Jungle”, though this one has more of a traditional NWOBHM sound and the vocals are a little more distorted then on “Brain Damage”. This song is another exceptionally enjoyable piece, though it sounds as if it was just taken from a vinyl release and not really remastered with the rest of the album, and the bass kicks actually just sound like clicks that one would hear as a kind of static sound that accompanies overused vinyls. Either way, these bonus tracks make for nice additions to the album, and give all the more reason to add this release to your collection and discover this long lost treasure. Of course, the final aspect of this is that it is only limited to two thousand pressings, so the window of opportunity is becoming rather slim as time goes on.
When it comes down to it, there really is nothing bad about Turn the Hell On. It’s sad that Fist seem to be doomed to obscurity right from the start, but perhaps this 2010 reissue/remaster of the album will open up the eyes of many fans of metal to this act. The group reunited back in 2005, and as of this time, is currently on hold. But, either way, Fist is one of those underrated bands that many fans have, unfortunately, missed out on over the years, and Turn the Hell On is an album that anyone in metal should check out. It’s a simple, catchy, headbanging album that stood the test of time, and, in many ways, could very well be considered a classic.