“Image” full length by WYRED from Kansas City, Missouri, USA. An old story… Well this is for sure one of the most sought after private Metal CDs of the 90s underground. It was originally pressed on the -usual for the era- amount of 1000 copies and disappeared very quickly. Yeah it was disappeared, because everyone who would manage to track down a copy, would then secure it on the shelf. No, not because of the rarity factor, but because this particular release contained amazing music. Yes, things were much simpler back on this album’s release era: Music was the main factor… You wanted more music, and you wanted / hoped for it to be good. You would track down a band, send the cash hidden on letter usually asking for a single copy of a release. You would then wait for it to arrive and when it did you simple started to explore the gifts of a new treasure. And the gifts of the “Image” full length were amazingly delightful. Well musically we are dealing with an actual combination of Melodic, Power and Prog Metal. So yes. It makes sense that the CD was disappeared after its initial release… You see there were people who wanted -and hopefully still want- some first class Metal on their ears and their shelves. Right?
Did I already mentioned 1995? Yes. Well the band’s sage would begin some years earlier… CHERRY WENCH -sorry guys but this is one of the funniest band names I have ever heard- was formed in 1989 by guitarist Ron Bales and vocalist Brad Kinne. The two joined forces after Ron left the Thrash Metallers MORTAL REIGN where he spent 5 years playing. The band was auditioning for a new singer when Brad was discovered, but finally the members of MORTAL REIGN backed out on replacing the back-then vocalist and guitarist Kurt Halupnick for a separate vocalist. The CHERRY WENCH lineup was completed with Brad’s younger brother Brian Kinne on bass, and Jason Byrd on drums. The band quickly composed 4 songs and recorded them at West End Studio in Kansas City, Missouri for a 4 song demo cassette, in 1990. Ron Bales left CHERRY WENCH, he went on and formed the group WYRED in 1992, whereas the other members of CHERRY WENCH continued for one more year, but soon disbanded.
In 1992 WYRED started recording the material for their debut album. Recordings lasted two years in total (1992-1994). The album was recorded at Inferno Music Studio and it was finally released on a private edition of 1000 copies on 1995.
Arkeyn Steel records reissues this album, 24 years after its original release. So lets examine what we got here…
From the very first listening of the WYRED material you would realize some very specific features on their music. A key feature is the songwritting. Almost every WYRED song is able to stick in your mind. Second feature is Don Crosby’s vocals. Both the color of his voice and the vocal melodies he delivers bring the songs to a higher level. His vocals are surely inspired by the Geddy Lee magic. And well, I can assure you that RUSH are a general influence in those recordings. The guitar playing of Ron Bales is the third key feature in here. And I am referring both on his guitar riffs and themes but on the leads part delivering as well. He mainly composes using complete guitar themes often avoiding the typical usage of Metal single riffing. Each guitar theme would consist of many riff-parts that would be wisely put together. Fourth and final key feature is the way that the keyboards are used in here. Bales have arranged the keyboard parts placing them on key time points inside the songs, delivering some huge emphatic keyboard melodies. Keyboard parts are sounding absolutely balanced inside the songs. Well this has to do with the keyboard melodies themselves but it is also a matter of mixing and mastering of the recordings. Yes folks, the overall sound result. Fortunately the new remastering by Kostas Scandalis of Arkeyn Steel records, gives us the chance to pay attention to such interesting details.
Very inspired music that is widely arranged on parts that combine the puzzle of magnificent songs. The overall result is so catchy at the end of the day. The band carries this Progressive and musically shining vibe that RUSH brought into the foreground with their 80s albums: The melodic interludes in almost every song, the vocal melodies, the Prog guitar parts and the keyboards are straightly driving me to make this match. You can do the same while checking out songs like “Love Flies Away”, “Get it Right” or “Only a Lifetime”. On the other hand we also got some amazingly powerful guitar work that screams out its catchy Metal force: Melodic Metal acts like HITTMAN or DRIVE would come into your mind while listening for example the main riff of “Nothing Lasts”. “Rise Up” and of course “Captured In Time” -an amazing Prog / Power anthem and one of the heaviest songs that the band had composed- are following similar directions.
The Arkeyn Steel edition -which comes into 500 hand-numbered copies-, comes with lots of bonus stuff. Let’s take a better look and focus on a careful listen:
“Watch, Look, & Listen” was the first song composed by WYRED it was recorded in 1992 and was included in Banzai Magazine’s “Metal Chief” compilation cassette (a 4 song cassette compilation of 4 bands), it is now available first time on CD. Well it is a little Prog / Power jewel, melancholic and touchy. “Interference” is an unreleased track from 1996, its chorus is its strongest feature and once again the overall job on the vocal melodies.
The four CHERRY WENCH demo tracks from 1990 complete the bonus stuff catalog. The band hit the studio and recorded those tracks, but never officially released them. So -like the WYRED bonus stuff- this is the first time this material faces the daylight under an official CD release. Here we got a young band delivering some great melodic Metal. Catchy and straight into your face, it represents some amazing guitar work by Ron Bales. The vocals of Brad Kinne are also great. I enjoyed all the tracks but I must point my favorite which is the “Endless Sorrow” track. Well this one is pretty much an actual first sign of the musical path that WYRED would follow under their sound evolution. Yes the song in fact evolved to a WYRED song (“Get It Right”).
For one more time Arkeyn Steel records has done an amazing job on the packaging. The original “Image” front cover has been re-worked and upgraded by Kostas Athanasoglou himself and on the 12 page booklet you will be able to discover band biography, lyrics and never before seen photos.
Well to sum things up there is lots of first class music captured on this reissue. If you are enjoying the US Melodic, Prog / Power US Metal of this magical early to mid 90s era then you are probably aware of this masterpiece and if you aren’t you would better hurry up and add it to your collection now that it is available again.