Recorded and mixed in just four days at the arse end of 1983, Ecstasy And Danger – the debut full length from Belgium’s Ostrogoth – is a perfect little time capsule, perfectly depicting European metal in the early eighties.
As did a lot of metal at the time from the Low Countries, the music mixes the raw aggression of German bands like Accept with the slightly ploddier elements of NWoBHM. The band are never slow to incorporate elements of a more hard rock bent too – the mid section of dramatic opener Queen of Desire is positively bucolic after the blood and thunder of the song’s opening, sounding like something Uriah Heep might have cooked up for a wizard’s birthday, or something, and the resultant mix is actually pretty appealing.
Despite the murky, cut-price production, you can hear contributions from all band members – even bassist Marnix Van Der Kauter gets a look in, which is fortuitous because he’s not a bad player at all – and the standard of songwriting, though generic, does exactly what you’d hope in terms of getting the neck moving and the pulse racing.
Sadly, both the guitarists that played on this album – Rudy Vercruysse and Hans Ven Der Kerckhove – have since passed away, but there are enough moments on this album to suggest that they were a pretty handy pairing, especially the excellent title track, where the pair riff n’solo on a par with many more of the bigger names in Euro metal at the time. The raw, unvarnished guitar tones have more than a little touch of Mercyful Fate about them – no bad thing, surely?
Vocalist Marc de Brauwer is capable, belting out the sometimes dodgy lyrics with a fair amount of power, often sounding a little like Virgin Steele’s David DeFeis before the red wine took hold, and again, as he and the band career through superb tracks like A Bitch Again you find yourself actually wondering whether these blokes might not have done a little better had they originated from anywhere other than metal backwater Belgium. If you’ve a yen for straight-from-the-source old time HM and haven’t come across Ostrogoth yet, you must give this a spin as soon as you can. Enjoy!
Ecstasy and Desire releases on September 15th.