A heavy metal gem that had been lost in the sands of time for nearly three decades has recently been unearthed by Stormspell Records. Victim were a San Diego, California-based metal band from 1983 to 1986. In 1984, the band recorded what was to be their second full-length album, ‘By the Neck.’ However, unexpected financial difficulties resulted in the master tapes being condemned to the vaults, forgotten and collecting dust, until a series of fortuitous coincidences resulted in their rediscovery in 2013. Stormspell swung into action, and now this recording dating back to the first term of the Ronald Reagan presidency is finally available for public consumption for the very first time. Better late than never.
‘By the Neck’ is very much a product of its time, with occasional Sunset Strip tendencies and glammy 80s song titles like “Hot-N-Frigid” and “Teaz-Her.” But make no mistake: Victim were a talented band, with a lot more heft and substance than the endless parade of Ratt and Van Halen knockoffs making the rounds in those days. More specifically, Victim’s music carried with it a consistently heavier edge, sort of a combination of ‘Shout’-era Motley Crue and ‘Defenders’-era Judas Priest. A band like Malice would be a worthy point of comparison. The vocals were high pitched but powerful, with an occasional propensity to lurch into full-blown banshee shrieks. The guitars had more crunch and bite than most of the hair bands of the day did. Songs like “Surrender” (an uptempo number featuring chainsaw guitars and an urgent chorus), the punishing middle section of “Edge of the Razor,” and the speedy, wailing “Power Hungry” are pure traditional metal all the way. Not every song is a winner (the best songs seem to be front-loaded on the album), but there are no ballads, no keyboards and no fluff in the lean 33-minute running time. A particularly pleasant surprise is how punchy and full the production sounds, especially for its day. For all the world, ‘By the Neck’ sounds like a polished, high-budget affair with a top-notch studio pedigree, rather than an abandoned, incomplete project left to rot on a shelf for almost 30 years. Looking back, it’s a pity that Victim were unable to release ‘By the Neck’ in 1984, as it surely would have turned heads and been competitive with the W.A.S.P.s and Lizzy Bordens of the world. We can never recapture those wasted years, but thankfully ‘By the Neck’ is here for us to enjoy now. While it may not hit quite as hard now as it would have then, this is still a worthy album for any old-school metalhead’s collection.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~