Forged at the time when most second-tier American bands were trading in their cowboy boots and leathers for fourteen hole Doc Martins and flannel shirts, Hailmary‘s Disturbing The Peace documents the sound of a band suffering from acute identity crisis.

As Leatherwolf, the core of Hailmary had carved a niche for themselves at the heavier end of the hair metal spectrum via the gift of big-bollocked anthems like Street Ready and classy ballads such as Hideaway; I saw them live in London on the Hideaway tour and they were, absolutely, the real deal. But moving forward after that band imploded, as the storm clouds of Grunge gathered over the metal world, vocalist Michael Olivieri and guitarists Geoff Gayer and Carey Howe had to formulate a plan to stay relevant. Unfortunately, on the evidence of this just-released-from-the-vaults retrospective album, that plan seemed to consist entirely of emulating Skid Row in ‘punk’ mode or worse, on the excruciating D.A.D., producing a doomed and unloveable mix of Extreme and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers

How this state of affairs came to pass is hard to fathom; on the face of it, a band with three lead guitars in it should have thrived in heavier, darker waters, but somehow things just don’t click as the band go through a set of songs that sound forced at best and downright laughable at worst. Of course, we’re viewing this through a prism of cynicism formed over thirty years – we’ve all heard Carnival of Souls by now – and you can’t blame a band for trying to stay afloat as the tides of musical change move against them – but, all that taken into account, the bedroom angst of Friends was never going to be the answer.

All of which is a shame, because man can these guys play and, in Olivieri they possessed one of the most underrated throats in metal in the late eighties. Strangely enough the best tracks featured here are the two demos tacked on to the end, unvarnished slices of heavy metal that actually hint that the band was still capable of churning out the good stuff. They were, of course, but they had to reform Leatherwolf to prove it.

A shame, then, as the levels of talent here are undeniable – but history will look back at Hailmary and simply see a missed opportunity.

Disturbing The Peace releases on July 4th.