Night on Bröcken
(yes, the umlaut is entirely gratuitous)
Performed by Fates Warning
Recorded in 1984
on Metal Blade Records
- Buried Alive
- The Calling
- Kiss of Death
- Night On Bröcken
- Soldier Boy
The debut album of Connecticut heavy metal band Fates Warning. Though the band would go on to a long career with a continually evolving sound, their first album sounded an awful lot like Iron Maiden, from whose song the denim-clad New Englanders got their name.
I'd stop short of calling it derivative, though. Night on Bröcken has galloping riffs and high-register banshee wailing a la Maiden, but Arch had a greater innate sense of melody then any other metal singer I've ever heard. It's not as fully developed here as on subsequent albums The Spectre Within and Awaken the Guardian, and his voice isn't nearly as "professional" sounding as Bruce Dickinson's, but it still brings a unique flavor to the music, which, quite frankly, rocks anyway. This might not be an ideal album for absorbing with headphones, but it's excellent driving music.
Lyrical themes include myths and folk stories of Europe and colonial America, generally focusing more on the obscure (even occult) side of history and legend. The only songs with contemporary subject matter are the last two, which are also the album's best musically. Damnation is Arch's tribute to his native American heritage, beginning as a ballad backed only by acoustic guitar, then suddenly erupting into a thunderous anthem disparaging corporatism. Soldier Boy is a forceful, driving song telling of a boy turned into a killing machine (and ideal soldier) by the violence of American culture and television.
If you decide to buy the album, which is still in print on CD, you will receive a cover featuring the third, and worst, of the album's three cover art variants, a simple image of a gibbous moon. Early vinyl pressings featured a witch being burned alive (this would become a recurring theme in Arch's lyrics). The very first (now quite rare) cover was an amateurish watercolor painting of a dude decked out in vintage Plymouth Rock garb, holding a torch above the supine form of a scantily-clad blonde girl and a pack of feline onlookers. In the distance, a raven-haired woman in tights and thigh-high boots raises her arms to the sky, presumably invoking some far-off entity to aid her fallen sister. (holy anachronism, Batman!) My words don't do it justice; you can see all three covers for yourself at http://www.fateswarning.com/nob.htm