EP Review: Hellion – “Karma’s A Bitch”
One of those bands who kind of slipped through the cracks during the Sunset Strip era, Hellion were there right at the beginning standing alongside Motley Crue, WASP et al in the early days of glam metal. Headed up by the High Priestess of Sunset Strip herself Ann Boleyn (allegedly the reincarnation of the beheaded wife of Henry VIII, though perhaps we should take that with a pinch of salt), they mined a seam of the genre which, rather like Blackie Lawless’ mob, owed a debt to the early ’80s Brit metal sounds of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden (back when Paul Di’Anno was fronting them). Perhaps not a surprise that they managed to be more successful over in Europe than in their native USA, and even managed to get an EP produced by the Dragon Slayer himself, Ronnie James Dio.
Thirty years on then, and little has changed in the Hellion camp in terms of their sound. Opening song Betrayal throws a nice false start in to kick the EP off, with a subtle acoustic intro and Ann actually crooning the lyrics, before the guitars and drums kick in along with her trademark Queen of Hell snarl. She may be a bit older these days, but evidently the old voodoo rituals do a good job of keeping that voice intact.
The pace keeps up agreeably throughout the five tracks on Karma’s A Bitch, from the Priest soundalike title track to the furious Hell Has No Fury and Watch The City Burn, which could almost be solo Ozzy circa Crazy Train. Closer Rockin’ Till The End meanwhile sees the band confronting an impending apocalypse by slinging some Motorhead on the stereo and grabbing a beer. Fair play.
Don't expect anything out of the ordinary here, this is proper old-school metal with all the guitar widdling, screaming vocals and "Charge of the Light Brigade" dynamics you'd expect. But, quite simply, Hellion are very good at what they do, and they've got a lot more fire than many of their one-time contemporaries who propped up the Rainbow Bar & Grill back in the day. For simple no-brainer headbanging fun, this is more than good enough.