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"Mass Slaughter: The Best of Slaughter" Album Review

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I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.

mass-slaughter-the-best-of-slaughter-cd-review

"Mass Slaughter: The Best of Slaughter"

Chrysalis Records, 1995

Have you ever bought a CD which you suspected you were probably going to hate? That happened to me when I came across this "best-of" compilation by Slaughter recently at a church rummage sale. I was never much of a fan of the early '90s hair metal quartet, but it had been years since I'd last heard them and the CD was priced at an irresistible twenty-five cents (in mint condition!) so I was willing to give them another chance.

The only Slaughter album I owned back in the day was their debut Stick It To Ya , thanks to a record-store employee friend who'd snagged me a promotional copy. Back then I felt that the band was talented in a generic sort of way, but the weak link was their namesake vocalist, Mark Slaughter - whose nasal, somewhat girlish whine seemed to only have two settings: "Vaguely Irritating" and "Causes Physical Pain." Seriously folks, when this guy goes for a high note, cats head for the hills and dogs cover their ears and howl. I saw Slaughter open for KISS in late 1990 and unbelievably, Mark's piercing screeches were even more annoying live than on record.

Slaughter were a good lookin' bunch of dudes, though, and let's be honest, in 1990 that was all you really needed to make it big in hard rock music. (True story: the girl who attended that KISS show with me leaned over about halfway through Slaughter's set and said, "They're hot...but they can't play.") Thanks to a series of slick music videos for the catchy singles like "Up All Night" and "Fly To the Angels," Slaughter sold a lot of records and the world was their oyster... for about a year.

Slaughter L-R: Tim Kelly (gtr) Blas Elias (dr), Mark Slaughter (vox), Dana Strum (bass)

Slaughter L-R: Tim Kelly (gtr) Blas Elias (dr), Mark Slaughter (vox), Dana Strum (bass)

"Up All Night" (1990)

"The Best of Slaughter"

Released in 1995, Mass Slaughter: The Best of Slaughter was nothing more than a quick record label cash-in to squeeze the last bit of juice out of the band, who'd already been dropped from the label's roster. I suppose if you're a new fan who owns no other Slaughter material, this 18-track collection would be a good starting point. However, if you already own the band's studio albums you can safely skip Mass Slaughter, since there's nothing new on it. Nine of the tracks are pulled from Stick It To Ya, seven from The Wild Life, and two are from the Stick It Live EP. No exclusive live tracks, demos, B-sides, or movie-soundtrack songs to rope in the diehards and completists? C'mon, Chrysalis Records. You're not even trying.

Predictably, the CD kicks off with Slaughter's two best known tracks - "Up All Night" and "Fly to the Angels" -- and also closes with live versions of those same songs, from Stick It Live. One wonders why Chrysalis didn't simply release a CD single with those two songs on it, call that "The Best of Slaughter," and call it a day. I've always liked the thundering groove of "Up All Night," and felt that it was one of the few times that Mark Slaughter's vocal histrionics meshed well with the musical mayhem going on behind him. In between the double-dose of those two very overplayed songs, Mass Slaughter basically sums up the entire hair-metal era in a nutshell - you get a fair share of slickly produced, hard-edged (yet still radio friendly) rock tracks like "Eye To Eye," "Mad About You" and "Shake This Place" mixed with watery power-ballads like "Hold On," "You Are the One" (sickening!!) and "Days Gone By" - which, depending on your tolerance for such things, will have you either hoisting your lighter aloft in a salute or reaching for your 'skip' button. I almost hate to admit it, but I kinda dig the sickly-sweet "Real Love" ... which may not be a particularly great song but my then-teenage crush Shannen Doherty of "Beverly Hills 90210" fame appeared in the music video for it, so it gets a pass from me.

In fact, I found myself enjoying the bulk of Mass Slaughter more than I'd anticipated. Yeah, there are still a few moments where I wished that someone would stuff a rag in Mark Slaughter's mouth and shut him up (particularly during the screechy "Mad About You" and "She Wants More"), so not much has changed in that regard. Musically, however, they were a better band than I gave them credit for.

"Real Love" (1992)

Vinnie Vincent Invasion (Slaughter and Strum on far right)

Vinnie Vincent Invasion (Slaughter and Strum on far right)

At Least They Weren't V.V.I.

At least Slaughter were less annoying than the band they were spawned from: Vinnie Vincent Invasion, the ill-fated vanity project put together by the self proclaimed guitar wizard who briefly replaced Ace Frehley in KISS. The Invasion was an utterly over-the-top, poodle haired, glam-to-the-max band centered around Vincent's high speed guitar wankery and endless soloing, topped off by high-pitched, screaming Chipmunks-on-helium vocals. Chrysalis Records quickly scooped up the Invasion hoping to cash in on Vincent's KISS notoriety, but legend has it that after two under-performing studio albums (and rumors of financial misdeeds and overall douche-baggery on Vincent's part), the label abruptly cut Vinnie loose and offered the remainder of the Invasion's contract to Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum if they could assemble a new band. The pair quickly recruited Kelly and Elias, cut Stick It To Ya, and struck platinum - which must've been a pretty major karmic middle finger to their former band leader.

Summin' it up...

I still think that Mark Slaughter possessed one of the most irritating "singing" voices of his generation, but I enjoyed enough of this CD to make it worth the twenty-five cent expenditure. Maybe it was lowered expectations, or maybe I'm getting nostalgic about music like this in my old age. I doubt I'll be buying any more Slaughter CDs in the future, but for now at least, I'm going to hang onto this one.

© 2013 Keith Abt

Comments

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on August 05, 2013:

Very cool, BDC. I saw that same KISS tour back in the day.

BlackDiamondCheesehead on August 04, 2013:

Honest review. I just saw Slaughter perform live tonight -yeah, it rocked - but then again, I was a fan back in the day and dug Mark Slaughters' falsetto-like squeals...

Good month for me - KISS two weeks ago, and Slaughter tonight. I just need Winger to come to town, and I've relived my Hot In the Shade tour, 1990 -lol!

Peace, brother.

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on August 01, 2013:

Hi again Thief - I have only vague memories of "Fear No Evil" so there wasn't much I could say about it.. .hahaha

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on August 01, 2013:

Slaughter is definitely far from the best rock band, but for some reason, I loved them when I was a teen. Still listen to their albums quite a bit. No mention of "Fear No Evil" in your hub though :-( which I thought was a very underrated effort. As a matter of fact, out of all their albums, it's the one I listen more nowadays.

Sean McGavin from Bowling Green, Ohio on June 26, 2013:

Honestly, the thought did cross my mind until I heard the singing.

Stan Murphy from Kansas on June 26, 2013:

That first album was really good for us hair metal fans. They probably should have just had it be their greatest hits with maybe 1 or 2 other songs from the follow-up.

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 25, 2013:

I remember there was much laughter amongst my thrasher friends when this "other" Slaughter came along, because we all remembered the brutal thrash band - our joke was "Oh noooo! Slaughter done sold out and went commercial!" Haha

Sean McGavin from Bowling Green, Ohio on June 25, 2013:

Much agreed. Probably because they had broken up by the time the hair Slaughter got big.

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 25, 2013:

Hi smcgavin - I remember the Canadian "Slaughter" too, they pre-date the hair band by a couple of years... I always wondered why they never lawyered up when this "Slaughter" came along, stole their name out from under them and then sold a few zillion records... the name was much more appropriate for a thrash band anyway!!

Sean McGavin from Bowling Green, Ohio on June 25, 2013:

I admit I really love "Up All Night". I thought the mix of distorted and clean electric guitar was really interesting . And there are a few other songs on that CD (I own it too) that I like, but for the most part, I prefer the Canadian thrash band Slaughter.

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 25, 2013:

Cool, Manny. Thanx for stopping by, as always!

Manny on June 24, 2013:

After reading this blog, I pulled 'Mass Slaughter' out of the archives, and surprisingly enjoyed it a lot more then I had anticipated. Doubt I will spin it too often, but I enjoyed it for what it is.

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 24, 2013:

"There's such a fine line between stupid and clever..."

FreedomMetal from Somewhere In Time on June 24, 2013:

(classic rock radio playing in the background, DJ speaks after the song ends) That was Up All Night by Slaughter... Currently residing in the Where Are They Now file....