Since their arrival on the hard rock scene in the early ’10s, Hell In The Club have demonstrated an obvious knack for sleazy, old fashioned “hair metal”. Formed by a couple of musicians with links to European prog metal bands, it began as a way to have fun, but quickly became far more than a side project. Even at the point where you’d think HITC’s retro schtick would have run out of steam, on their 2020 release ‘Hell of Fame’, they sounded as good as ever, showing that they were still capable of delivering fantastic riffs and massive, cheesy chorus hooks. In some ways, their carefree, non-political approach, and willingness to convey a party spirit was exactly what was called for to distract everyone from those early Covid ridden times.
Supergroups rarely last a long time. The combination of various egos usually leads to burnout pretty quickly. In the case of Blackthorne (featuring Graham Bonnet along with members of Quiet Riot, House of Lords and Skull), there wasn’t really anything you’d call genuine longevity, but their course ran a little longer than most. Formed in 1991, they released their debut ‘Afterlife’ in 1993 which led to some success in Japan. Work on a second album was undertaken in the mid-90s, but the band called it a day before the record was ready for release. The tapes remained unreleased until HNE Recordings unearthed them as part of their extensive (and excellent) Graham Bonnet reissue campaign. It’s a shame Blackthorne’s proposed second album couldn’t be heard in 1995, as at least half of it was an improvement over their first release.
Having already released ‘Afterlife’ with a handful of bonus tracks and finally gettiing ‘Blackthorne II: Don’t Kill The Thrill’ out to the fans in 2016, you’d expect that Cherry Red/HNE Recordings would have nothing more to give from Blackthorne’s all too short career, but this compilation (released in October 2019) actually adds a lot more to the band’s recorded legacy. Not so much a career overview with a few unreleased trinkets, this set is actually a vault of demos and alternate takes, peppered with a few album cuts to give a fairer overview of their short life span. Presented among the 44 tracks in this set are 30 unreleased cuts, a couple of which go right back to the band’s origins when the rhythm section featured White Lion men James Lomenzo and Greg D’Angelo. In other words, there’s a huge amount for fans to get their ears around.
Following his departure from Rainbow in 1980, Graham Bonnet carried on his musical journey. In 1981 he recorded his fourth solo album (‘Line Up’) and in 1982 replaced Gary Barden as the voice of the Michael Schenker Group. In 1983, Bonnet joined Alcatrazz, with whom he recorded three albums. Their 1985 disc ‘Disturbing The Peace’ (featuring Steve Vai) ranks alongside Rainbow’s ‘Down To Earth’ as a career high point for the prolific vocalist. After brief stints providing vocals for Forcefield (a band featuring his old Rainbow mate Cozy Powell), Pretty Maids and Chris Impelliteri, he landed a job in 1991 as the frontman for an all-star rock band named Blackthorne.
After the release of three studio albums and a live record, by 1988 US shock-rockers W.A.S.P. had gained a loyal fan-base. However, thanks to their potentially objectionable songs and frontman Blackie Lawless’s larger-than-life attitude, the band had even more detractors. Since their stage show featured raw meat, torture racks and naked women and their albums were filled with more profanity and sexist material than most bands had dared to commit to plastic by that point on the time line of hard rock history, they made life-long enemies with Tipper Gore and her self-righteous band of moral guardians in the US.