Lååz Rockit - City's Gonna Burn (1984)Release ID: 7727
"City's Gonna Burn" is the debut studio album from a five-piece heavy metal outfit from Berkley known as Lååz Rockit; a moniker derived from the Clint Eastwood film “The Enforcer” where the final scene shows Clint shooting a tower with a weapon know as a Light Anti-Tank Weapons System (or LAWS). The band decided the change the spelling to "Lååz" for one reason or another which makes no sense whatsoever & the umlaut above the “A”s is presumably only there for effect too. Laaz Rockit were still in high school when they formed in 1982 & one would imagine that it must have been a very exciting period for your average San Francisco metalhead at the time given all of the creative expression around them. It’d be two years before the band would manage to release this album following the “Prelude To Death” demo which had been strong enough to lure the attentions of Target Records.
Now Laaz Rockit are an interesting band in the scheme of the US power metal & thrash metal movements. Although they’d go on to become a genuine thrash metal band in years to come, the “City’s Gonna Burn” record definitely doesn’t sit comfortably under the thrash metal banner. Most people regard it as a combination of traditional heavy metal & speed metal with the odd thrashy moment here & there but I disagree. I hear very little genuine speed metal on this album. There are a couple of songs that I do regard as legitimate thrash metal though & even though a good portion of the album takes more of a classic heavy metal sound, there are noticeable similarities to the more mid-paced & chuggy riffs you would hear on early US thrash releases. I mean this is a very riffy record with some real belters across the tracklisting. These guys really knew the power of the riff & I find that element of the band to be really attractive. In fact, much of this stuff sounds a lot like early Exodus & I have to wonder if the two bands were a part of the same circle of friends. I’d imagine that it would have been a case of Exodus influencing Lååz Rockit rather than the other way around but who knows. It’s really interesting that I’ve never seen Lååz Rockit being mentioned in terms of US power metal either because this record would seem like the perfect example of what that term was penned to describe. I mean if the blue-collar power metal term covers a band that sits somewhere between traditional heavy metal & thrash metal then how is this not an example of US power metal? Is it because it’s not that melodic? I have no idea & I still think the whole US power metal thing is a pointless term created by the bands to try to differentiate themselves.
Front man Michael Croons possesses a pretty bad assed vocal delivery & one that would work really well in the context of genuine thrash. He’s one of the real drawcards for the band at this early stage as he’s got a lot of power in his voice & already sports a well-defined style that sits eerily close to the one that Steve Souza would take with Exodus in the late 80’s. So it really does make me wonder how influential Lååz Rockit might have been. There certainly weren’t too many thrash bands around that were capable of recording & releasing a full-length album in 1983/84 so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that several of the big name acts that would follow learned their craft at Lååz Rockit shows. The musicianship is surprisingly good for such a young & inexperienced band too & I find myself really enjoying the guitar solos. I guess I just have a soft spot for a pure metal band that doesn’t feel the need to experiment with different styles & genres but instead concentrates on doing what they do best.
Sadly, there’s a big obstacle in the way here that most people won’t be able to see past. The production! “City’s Gonna Burn” has so much promise but unfortunately it sounds like shit which means that even though I have a lot of time for about three quarters of the tracklisting, there’s a definite limit to where my enjoyment can go. The guitars in particular sound really poor with the faster, thrashier sections suffering more substantially than the more mid-paced crunchy material. It’s also a shame that the album ends with a song that's clearly weaker than the rest of the tracklisting in the very ordinary “Something More” which was pretty obviously only included to fill in the numbers.
Overall though, I have to admit that I quite like “City’s Gonna Burn”. It’s somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine given that it receives mostly poor reviews. If I’m honest, I tend to think that most of those reviews are coming from fans that have gone back & investigated the early records after having already been heavily involved with Lååz Rockit’s later thrash metal material & subsequently find it all a bit timid in comparison. Otherwise I don’t think people are listening hard enough because this is not a bad album from a band with a good ear for metal music. The production isn’t enough to ruin a reasonably fun listen.
Speed Metal (conventional)
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Heavy Metal (conventional)
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