Let’s get one thing straight here: From the band name, album title, and cover painting (featuring the backside of a black leather-clad knife-wielding metal vixen), one might surmise that this is some kind of glam/sleaze album of the sort that Demon Doll Records pumps out, and a certain faction of Sweden and Germany worships, these days. Such an impression would be a grievous error. To be sure, Stereo Nasty are all about recapturing the vibe and feel of 1980s American melodic heavy metal / hard rock, but their sound owes much more to the likes of Malice or Leatherwolf than Bon Jovi or Warrant. There’s a toughness in the riffs of Adrian Foley and a rawness in the throaty, gritty vocals of Mick Mahon (he’s kinda like the guy from Unrest, if you remember that fine German band) that cause Stereo Nasty to pack much more of a metal punch than the mascara’n’lipstick gender-benders on the Sunset Strip in 1986. So you need not fear risking your metal cred by giving ‘Nasty by Nature’ a listen.
Having dispensed with that preliminary issue, how about a little background on the band? Stereo Nasty are an Irish quartet founded by guitarist Foley with the intent of keeping anthemic ‘80s-style heavy metal alive. The eye-catching CD booklet – with lots of great live band photos, something rarely seen in Stormspell releases – reveals that the band (even drummer Fran Moran) perform in denim vests with numerous multi-inch spikes (think Kerry King’s old gauntlets) protruding upward from the shoulders. They’d best be careful headbanging: those things can put your eye out, Ralphie! Still, it’s cool that Stereo Nasty are going for a unified, identifiable look on stage, rather than just being four guys in jeans and band t-shirts. On this ‘Nasty by Nature’ debut, Stereo Nasty deliver a steady diet of mid-tempo anthems in the four-minute range. The sameness of the material might be offputting to some over the 41-minute running time, but at least the quality levels are consistently high. What I love most about the songs are the riffs, which sound familiar yet different, channeling the likes of W.A.S.P., Priest, Dokken, and Accept’s Wolf Hoffman (circa ‘Metal Heart’ / ‘Russian Roulette’) on various tracks. More broadly, these songs all hearken back to the simple naivete of the ‘80s, with streamlined arrangements, big hooks, and plenty of singalong parts. Stormspell proclaims on the CD cover, “Anthemic ‘80s Metal Done Right!” and this description hits the nail on the head. Songs like “Black Widow,” “Out of the Fire,” and “In the Blood” magnificently reproduce the spirit and exuberance of those golden years.
If I had to give a one-word description of what it’s like to listen to ‘Nasty by Nature,’ my answer would be “fun.” The band sound like they’re having the time of their lives, and it’s a blast to rock out with them. No, this isn’t technically challenging, cutting-edge, cerebral, innovative stuff. It’s simple, it’s fun, it rocks, and it reminds me of being a teenager in the mid-to-late 1980s, driving around my dead-end hometown in my crappy 1977 Honda Civic while my tape deck blasted “L.O.V.E. Machine” and “Dream Warriors” and “Secret Loser” and “Rock Soldiers” and “Monsterman.” Somehow, I think that’s exactly what Adrian Foley and Stereo Nasty were going for here. Nice work, lads.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~