So while laid up here convalescing and writing Hunting and Tracking stories for your amusement, I made good on my threat to revisit 'Life Among the Ruins'. As far as I can tell, we're now living in an altered timeline created when someone in the original timeline's future went back to the late 20th century with the sole purpose of screwing up the VS discography so that the albums would be released in the wrong order.
--The album we know as 'Life Among the Ruins' was released in 1985 under the title 'Age of Consent' and contained the song 'Seventeen'.
--'Noble Savage' was released 3 years later, in 1988, as the band started to drift away from 80s rock and towards their romantic-barbaric style.
--The album we know from 1988 was originally released in 1993 under the name 'Life Among the Ruins' and marked the band's continued move towards less commercial/more barbaric-romatic territory.
This is the only logical explanation for what we know today as 'Life Among the Ruins'.
If that didn't make sense, let's try another hypothesis: 'Life Among the Ruins' is one of the best 80s hard rock albums released in 1993. Barring time-travelling discography manipulators, I cannot explain why this material was reocrded and released in 1993. The album contains very little, if any, heavy metal music, but it does contain a lot of decent hard rock and some really nice power ballads that would have been right at home in the middle of the 1980s. Let's check the tracklist:
'Sex Religion Machine'- really, does any song with that title have a chance of being good?
'Love is Pain'- now that's a nice 80s anthem!
'Jet Black', 'I Dress in Black', and 'Crown of Thorns'- not great songs, but passable IF you think of them as mid 80s hard rock fare. Terrible if you think of them as heavy metal tracks. Inexplicable if you think of them as 1993 releases.
'Never Believe in Goodbye'- another good power ballad type tune
-'Too Hot to Handle'- everything you ever wanted in a bad 80s party rock song. SO cheesy it's almost fun.
-'Love's Gone', 'Wildfire Woman', 'Cry Forever'- hey, here's more and more of that cool ballady style they're nailing on this album!
-'Last Rose of Summer'- great cover choice given that DeFeis can handle Halford's vocal sty- wait, what do you mean it's not a 'Priest cover? I would've lost that bet! But hey, this is actually better- they really do a terrific job on these 'pretty' songs on this album.
--(the version on YouTube doesn't include 'Snakeskin Voodoo Man' but it is on the mp3 version of the album that I have... I'm just not gonna bother with it for now since it's not listed on the track list on Metal Archives, though that would hardly be the first error on that site).
So, now let's go back to my original hypothesis. It's 1983/4. Jack Starr was just kicked out of VS for musical differences. So he's recording more metallic stuff in his BURNING STARR project, while DeFeis wants to lean more commercial. He writes the batch of songs I just described above, puts them, plus 'Seventeen', onto an album, titles it 'Age of Consent'- an appropriately softcore kinda title given the contents and the time period- slaps a picture on the cover of some Cindy Crawford wannabe in garters and fishnets laying across a Camaro in a somewhat seductive pose, and viola!- you have a perfectly reasonable release that fits nicely into 1985. Hell, several of these songs could have seen airplay on MTV; forget 'Headbangers Ball', we're talking some primetime views with Adam Curry here.
Now, doesn't that time travel theory make more sense than trying to package those songs onto a metal album in 1993 called Life Among the Ruins'?
Some will say this is VS's weakest offering. I'm not prepared to go that far; the power ballads are actually pretty good for what they are, and a few of the hard rock tracks earn the same kinda-sorta passing grade, considering what they are. And that's the key here- you have to take this album for what it is. It is NOT the VS that, just one year later, would release part 1 of 'Marriage'. It is NOT the band most fans got to know via 'House of Atreus' and thus think of as pseudo-Manowar. And it is not the same guitar-slinging band that old-timers remember from 'Guardians of the Flame'. This, for whatever reason, is an 80s hard rock album that was released in 1993. And that's not the worst thing ever- it's just fucking weird.
Here's a hot take on LAtR: While this may be a stretch, it reminds me of 'Seventh Star'. Now, 'Seventh Star' is a terrible fucking BLACK SABBATH album, BUT it's a damn good 80s hard rock album! You can bitch all you want about how it should never have been released under the Black Sabbath banner- that's a fair assertion we can dive deep on. Was there a contractual obligation? Was Tony just too insecure to go it alone and release it under his own name? We'll discuss that another time. But I will fight the dirty rotten motherfucker who tries to claim that Glenn Hughes doesn't nail it on 'No Stanger to Love'. And 'In Memory' may barely be two minutes long but that reframe gives me chills- it still haunts me every time I hear it (and if you didn't get that joke, go listen to it NOW and prepare to drop your shit). 'Life Among the Ruins' COULD have been VS's 'Seventh Star'- an album that soundss nothing like the rest of their catalog, probably has no business being released under the same name as the rest of their catalog, but nevertheless contains a lot of great music for the time it was released. But Iommi got his out in '86 (right on time for such fare) and sidestepped the cheese, while DeFeis' came out seven years and a Grunge Explosion later and was rife with such lyrical gems as "C'mon get naked!" and "I feel love, babe, I like your look, Funky rhythm, Baby take it all the way". Michael Monroe, eat your heart out! And yet a year later DeFeis starts the next VS album with the immortal 'I Will Come for You'.
Yeah, tell me how THAT happens without time traveling discography manipulators!
A 'hail' to an old online buddy, King Fowley, who wouldn't STFU until I listened to 'Seventh Star'. Important lesson was learned: you never know until you actually hear the album for yourself.
Last edited by nightsblood
on Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I'm sorry Sam, we had real chemistry. But like a monkey on the sun, our love was too hot to live"