"The White Album" (demo '79)

Yngve Malmsten (git, voc), M. Jacob (bs), Z. Uroard (dr)

format: MLP Side A:
  1. Merlin's Castle
  2. Birth Of The Sun
  3. Dying Man

Side B:

  1. Suite Opus no. 9

year: 1986 (rec. '79)
country: Sweden
label: - (bootleg)
#: RF-1
insert: no
edition: 500
rarity: 9/10


Now here's a FWOSHM-item so rare I seriously started to doubt my own memories of taping a copy from a friend of a friend 17-18 years ago. And so, just a few weeks ago I made a most joyful reunion with this piece of early Swedish Metal history. I had to do some asking around about this one, but apparently "The White Album" is the unofficial title of this nameless and pretty much sleeveless, Swedish-made bootleg (some copies come with a handwritten sticker on the back with songtitles and line-up info). It's musical content is quite remarkable considering it was recorded all the way back in '79. It's not too far from the stuff on their superb "Marching Out" LP from '85, but with a more NWOBHM-meets-True-Metal feel, perhaps a bit like a mix of their later stuff and old Swedish icons like SILVER MOUNTAIN or GOTHAM CITY. "Merlin's Castle" is one of the finest (and earliest!) examples of pure Epic Metal from the north. A flawless, majestic number riding out on a pitch-black steed into to the battlefield to cause grievous bodily harm to as many posers as it is inhumanly possible. Hail and Kill! and so forth... "Birth Of The Sun" drags on a bit too long for it's own good, especially if you (like me) find endless guitar-fondling a most dreary part of the Metal musical tradition. Still, there's some really ace riffing and hooks underneath it all. Side A ends with the catchy "Dying Man" - melodic, yes, but no less heavy than the 2 first efforts. The lengthy "Suite Opus No. 8" is more along the lines of their semi-intrumental debut LP and not much more than a pornographic display of the guitarist's love for stroking his tool. A great intro and a pretty heavy lead riff, but apart from that it's pure muso-bastard fodder (THE GREAT KAT does the whole Beethoven-Metal thing with so much more balls if you ask me).

Soundwise it's quite alright for a demo. I've heard albums of the time sounding a lot worse. Should you by any chance have trouble finding this vinyl (AAHAHAHAHA! I kill me.) I'm pretty sure this recording can be found on the numerous bootleg CDs of their early demos. As an old vinyl-release of classic FWOSHM it's remarkable how this item has stayed out of the limelight in the collector-world. My only guess it that since it was released during the height of the band's career, it's measly 500 pressing sold out in a matter of weeks and has since then been rotting away in the closets of old fans and ex-fans here in Sweden, totally out of reach for foreign Metal collectors. Time to update your wantlist then, coz this really is so much more than a mere Yngwie Malmsteen-bootleg. It's a legacy of the earliest days of the Swedish Metal scene and a fine Heavy Metal album in it's own right.

(thanx to Janne Stark for additional info)

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