There has been a wide range of reasons brought up over the year why Hellion was not able to capitalize on Screams In The Night. Lineup troubles, label issues, and having a female singer that wasn’t marketable to executives have all been postulated. They had something good going with “Bad Attitude,” as it was all over music television, especially Headbangers Ball, when it was released. So the publicity was there, but the stability of the band was not.
This lineup would only be stable enough to last this one album, though keeping a consistent group of musicians in one place has never been Hellion’s strong suit. The only constant throughout the years has been Boleyn, though guitarist Chet Thompson has been involved on and off. Thompson is a solo-flying machine that has the ‘80s style of guitar playing: flashy solos and over-the-top technique.
How over-the-top am I talking? The man does an upside down guitar solo before “The Hand.” Why? No particular reason, other than showing off. That’s how most of the guitar playing feels on Screams In The Night; like Thompson is putting together an audition tape to send out to other bands. He’s impressive, for sure (the lead work on “Children of the Night” is jaw-dropping), but some of his solos go on forever, and these songs are only four minutes long on average.
Other than the filler drum solo track “Stick ‘em,” Screams In The Night is concise. There are hints of speed metal with “Children of the Night” and “Explode,” though it’s more like glam metal sped up than anything with vinegar and bile. The chest-pumping title track and the dreamy atmospheric touches on closer “The Tower of Air” are a few notable highlights. Even in its more tepid moments, the band rides the cliches with feverish energy.
Screams In The Night came out on New Renaissance Records, which was owned by Boleyn, and was the label for most of Hellion’s career. It was also known for putting out some classic underground records in the mid-to-late ‘80s. Executioner, Medieval, At War and Dream Death are a few of the noteworthy names to pass through the label’s halls. As a fan of retro albums, New Renaissance Records could be the foundation of months worth of material for the column.
Though not an extraordinary ‘80s metal album, Screams In The Night is a recommended listen regardless. Boleyn is a wildcat on the vocals, and Thompson shreds like his fingers are engulfed in battery acid. This album could have been a chart-topping hit, but the circumstances just weren’t there. For bursting with attitude and a sense of danger from its heavy metal core, Screams In The Night gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation.