Label: Eonian Records 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
A quick glance through the press release and the name Eric Valentine caught my attention. Indeed, the former T-Ride drummer and nowadays famed producer (Good Charlotte, Queens Of The Stone Age, Third Eye Blind, etc.) is responsible for tweaking six out of thirteen tracks on "Never Was An Angel". The rest are all done to the hard work of Rob Beaton (Guns N Roses, Sammy Hagar, Santana, etc.) so expect a rather professional packaging and sound here.
The Murder Bay songs were recorded in 1990 and magazine's such as Metal Edge took notice and the Bay's were included in the 'Bands On The Rise' section. Within a few short months, the band would be showcasing for one of the major labels. The changes the label demanded of the band during negotiations didn't sit well and Murder Bay turned down the offer. Gee, that must be a rather bitter experience and perhaps not their best decision?
Fast forward to 2012 and the band and guitarist Michael Karafilis' soaring, driving work is captivating on highlights as diverse as the opening stomping, "Land Of Plenty", and the Kee Marchello meet Mick Mars riffing on "Honey Child". The latter sounding a lot like a mix of the two afore-mentioned guitarists acts (Europe, Motley Crue). "Outta Line" is slick and catchy hair-metal (yeah, we're not afraid to use the term on a positive note) and "Ultraglide" is groovy yet catchy rock with a capitol R. "Simple Man" is a friggin' great and different sort of softy and not quite as stereotyped as most power ballads. It's almost a jazzy composition without losing the melodic hardrock formula. Again, excellent guitarwork, inspired by the Scorpions?
On record it's undeniable they have/had a fine collection of songs at their disposal in the likes of "Never Was An Angel","Dirty Work", and another great ballad, "Alone Again". However, towards the end of the CD, choruses could overall have been slightly better, bigger, catchier, as they often tend to stick to the Van Halen idea of grooving along to the melody without a sharp, edgy, point to the story. The formula is charming at first... but there are a couple too many of them without a proper refrain (Keep Me Mind, Got No Business, Song?). But hey, if you enjoy the average VH composition and groove. I personally find them dull and merely the debut and especially "5150" are classic albums in my book.
In conclusion, definitely one of the better sounding releases by Eonian Records anyhow. If you fancy the real deal and sound of the late 80s/early 90s, and don't mind some groovy (and excellent) guitarwork, have a go at Murder Bay as they're good at what they do.