Times flies. I am still unable to forget the shock condition I came into, when I heard this particular album: “Winter Kill” by Chicago, Illinois based SLAUTER XSTROYES. An one of a kind debut that was released privately by its creators back in the spring of 1985.
Fast forward to the late 90s, early / 00s and thanks to Manos Koufakis -co-owner of Cult Metal Classics, the label that presents this very specific, new 2021 reissue of this masterpiece-, I was able to obtain a copy of the 1997 Monster Records reissue on vinyl (same label had also done a first CD pressing back in 99). Manos imported some vinyl copies that were sold to some Greek Metalheads back in the day. Well I still remember the initial discussions about the SX matterial: Everyone was under the same shock, just like me. But why?
Because each and every new listener of this band back in the day, simply witnessed the ultra technical, surrealistic, inspired, powerful, one of a kind, Progressive / Power Metal of this band that broke each and every possible limit of artistic expression through this unique debut. The music included in this record can not be described with simple words.
I have also reviewed the album back in 2009 when Monster Records -that was renamed to Rockadrome Records- reissued -for a second time- the album on CD -under its Forged In Fire sub label-. Well I have actually found this particular review and I am repeating myself in here… You see, the masterpiece, remains a masterpiece:
“Here we are dealing, technical, intelligent, powerful, skull crashing, passionate and storm taking US Power Metal, presented in a complex and ultra unorthodox Progressive way. Yes the record carries this special magic touch that makes it unique in the Metal universe.”, I was writing back then. 12 years later I am not changing a single word.
The vocals of John Steward (imagine a mix of John Arch, Tim Lachman, Midnight and Ski) are something much more than great. The guitars of Paul Kratky are able to generate a hundred storm taking riffs and leads in just a single minute, an electric vortex that fortunately was caught on tape.
A solid, adventurous and ground breaking rhythm section is one of the strongest features in each and every song of this album: Yes, the out of this space bass lines of Brent Sullivan and the drumming of Dave Donow. I assure you that you have never heard and will never hear a drummer playing THIS way.
“Winter Kill” stands for power, passion, technique and atmosphere. The songs got some of the most wonderful lyrics in Metal, for sure not the typical stuff about skulls and swords… From deep and esoteric to razor cutting ones and yes allow some epic touches as well, great stuff… not just to be heard but to be read as well.
Please do not ask me to pick favorites from here. All the record is a masterpiece. But ok… there is one song that really stands on the top of my mountain: “City of Sirtel”. I consider this one to be the ultimate SX composition, based on this narrative anti-structure which is the trademark of this band. And of course “Black Rose And Thorns”. Simply no words for this song… no words able to describe its atmosphere, its great acoustic parts, its stormy steel breakings, its paranoia…
This new 2021 reissue gives the chance to a new generation of Metal fans to discover the greatness of Chicago Steel. Well at least I AM HOPING that there is a new generation of Metal fans, that CARES to discover such kind of music. Also those who were not able to grab a copy of the previous vinyl and CD reissues are now got the chance. This is a good update especially for the vinyl freaks out there cause the one and only 97 reissue on Monster Records is now sold for sky high prices. Yeah I know: its needless even to mention the cost of the 85 first pressing (if someone ever decides to sell a copy).
On this particular reissue we got three bonus tracks. “Saint’s Revenge” a magnificent SX composition, a demo track that has been restored and you can now enjoy it in the best possible sound quality. There is also a live recording of the track “Witches Honor”. yes you can hear this one in proper sound quality as well. Finally you can forget the poor internet bootlegs and NO there was never an 7″ release of those two tracks. I am pointing this to end all the internet nonsense references. There is also an out of this world new track called “Psycho Killer”, which has been recorded recently and it features the band’s current line up.
“Winter Kill” reissue will be released in April, 9th on CD and black vinyl. There will be two different color, vinyl presses as well. The reissue is dedicated to the memory of John Stewart and Dave Donow.
I simply got nothing more to write about this masterpiece. On its seven tracks the term “Progressive Metal” finds its real meaning: The ultimate passion for the music, that enforces the creator(s) to break each and every limit, adding to each and every song, the best possible features, offering mind, soul and skills to the ultimate performance, exploring new and probably unknown musical directions. Thousands and thousands of hours into rehearsal rooms trying to turn the inspiration to a form of art that will shine forever. Music for the soul, the heart and the mind. This is what Progressive Metal is all about. That is what SLAUTER XSTROYES is all about.
Read a special topic about the band in our forum pages.
Read the reissue conversation in our forum pages.