Take a band like L.A. Guns, for example: too dirty for hair metal, too light for traditional metal. Bands such as the Guns, Babylon A.D. and our current review subjects Black ‘n Blue belong to a small, elite unit of Aquanet soldiers sent specifically to sound the call of Sleaze Metal to the masses.
Black ‘n Blue’s self-titled debut from 1984 was notable for possessing a rough ‘n ready edge to it; containing songs like “Chains Around Heaven” which were marginally heavier than many of their hair contemporaries, earning enough dyed-in-the-wool ‘banger appreciation to garner the band a slot upon the legendary Metal Massacre Vol. 1 compilation, alongside future megastars Metallica.
This track, alongside the band’s single “Hold On to 18” were enough to place Black ‘n Blue as one of the more unsung heroes of Sleaze Metal society, centered primarily around the licks of guitarist Tommy Thayer—currently of KISS—and the gritty, yet pleasing vocals of frontman Jaime St. James.
St. James—who until recently had been saddled with the Warrant vocal position prior to the return (and subsequent departure) of Jani Lane—does a fine job here on Hell Yeah!, the band’s first record of new material since 1988’s In Heat, and his Black ‘n Blue bandmates follow suit, delivering a solid collection of mid-tempo metal/rock…with a severe emphasis on The Sleaze, of course.
A standout track like “Fools Bleed” displays all of the memorable songwriting charm formerly associated with this second tier hair act, bringing to mind Black ‘n Blue’s best moments of the 80s, while ushering in with it a fresh, energetic sound.
Indeed, it seems as if Black ‘n Blue have returned, cocked and loaded, to pull those chains around heaven once again. Welcome back!
(released May 17th, 2011 on Frontiers Records)