The Cassette Chronicles – Krokus’ ‘Headhunter’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

KROKUS – HEADHUNTER (1983)

You would think that a band that has released twenty albums over more than a forty year career would have made a pretty deep impression on me. But in the case of the Swiss rockers Krokus, that would be a false assumption.

If you’d asked me to name one of their albums, I likely wouldn’t have been able to do it. For whatever reason I never found my way into attaching my fandom to the band beyond the song “Screaming In The Night”. Beyond that, I have to own up to being essentially ignorant.

So when I dug Headhunter out of the “Big Box of Cassettes”, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the band had kind of an AC/DC thing going for it with singer Marc Storace sounding an awful lot like he was auditioning for that particular band.

After listening to the album, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Krokus. The album opens up with two highly energetic and fast paced rock tracks. The title track has a particularly quick stepping feel to it. Both “Eat The Rich” and “Ready To Burn” are also charged rockers.

Headhunter features that classic “Screaming In The Night”, so it was pretty fun to hear that again. The song still gets airplay on classic rock radio stations and specialty programming shows, but it isn’t overplayed. Thus, when I have heard it on the radio, the power ballad still does have a specialness to it.

As for the second side of the album, things started out well with the opening “Night Wolf”. The song’s slow rolling intro gives way to a rocket fuel ride of a track. I thought Storace’s vocals were particularly enjoyable on this song. There was an added edgy snarl to his vocal delivery which made sense given the song’s lyrical content.

But then the band decided to include a cover of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive song “Stayed Awake All Night”. I’ve never really thought much of the original version of the song and Krokus didn’t accomplish anything that would be considered improving upon that original. It laid there flat and empty, a soulless attempt to curry favor with a song that admittedly many others have loved but I find a trying slog.

“Stand And Be Counted” was a decent enough rocker. I’d love to give you my first impressions on “White Din” and “Russian Winter”, but in all honesty, I fell asleep before the songs played. But when I woke up, I went back and listened to them both. I thought “White Din” was a bit of a futile waste of time. However, “Russian Winter” is actually a killer track. Even though the song is just over three and a half minutes, Krokus manages to give the song an epic feel to it. It feels like a longer song and I mean that in a good way. Fast paced and heavy, with a soundtrack that runs through your brain and a really great vocal turn from Storace, this is a great song!

Now, I know I said I don’t know what to make of the band. The album has some great highlights and not that many lows. But, while as a singular experienc I enjoyed the album, I can’t rightly decide if it makes me want to seek out more material from Krokus or not. Headhunter is good, but is it good enough to convert me into a long delayed fandom for the band? I just don’t know. I do have another Krokus album that will be featured in this series down the line, perhaps that will go a long ways towards answering my question.

Until that time, Headhunter does have a pretty solid pedigree and it was nice to finally get to experience a full album’s worth of material from Krokus.

NOTES OF INTEREST – The album was produced by Tom Allom, who is best known for producing a number of albums by Judas Priest. The song “Ready To Burn” features backing vocals from Judas Priest singer Rob Halford.

Jimi Jamison, who would go on to find his biggest fame with Survivor, also provided backing vocals for the album.

The band will embark on a career-ending farewell tour in 2019.

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