Hot on the trails of "Shotgun Justice", High Roller Records will release "Open Hostility" on vinyl for the first time ever (in an exclusive edition of 500 copies). "Open Hostility" was the follow-up album to "Shotgun Justice", originally released only on CD in 1991 via Fist Fight Records. It was the second album featuring the then new Razor vocalist Bob Reid. So are "Shotgun Justice" and "Open Hostility" the only two Razor albums, which have not been released on vinyl at all up until now? What about "Decibels" from 1997 (originally released on Hypnotic Records)? Guitarist Dave Carlo knows: "'Decibels' has never come out on vinyl. Only on CD at this point in time. I am not sure, if we will ever do a vinyl of it. That's something I might entertain. For now I am happy with having 'Shotgun Justice' and 'Open Hostility' out on vinyl. But we may have a look at the earlier releases in the future, too. Who knows?"
Who knows, indeed ... Who knows for example why (mostly) all original classic Canadian Metal acts from the '80's had such a unique sound? Think of Anvil, Exciter, Razor ... They don't sound like your average American Thrash band by any stretch of the imagination. Dave Carlo agrees whole-heartedly: "Well, I'm happy to hearing you say that! I do think Canadian bands have an unique sound. I'm not sure I can put my finger on what that is exactly but I do think a Canadian band has to have a certain aspect of individuality. I do know what you're saying when you mention that we don't sound like your average American Thrash band. There are some American Thrash bands that do sound very similar to others. There is a sameness that comes from a lot of those bands. I'm not saying that there aren't some great American bands because there are. But I think that the prominent Canadian Speed or Thrash Metal bands that we know of do have very unique and individual sounds. Bands like Anvil, bands like Exciter, bands like VoiVod ... Piledriver, Razor and of course Sacrifice, very good friends of ours from Toronto."
So what were Razor's influences in the early days then, Mot-rhead and Venom? At least I got one band right: "My early influences were Mot-rhead, that's for sure, but also Raven and Mark Gallagher's guitar playing. He really is a hero of mine. I have to say that he is a genius on lead guitar and just a great riffer all around. I do admire him. I was also a big fan of Exciter in the early days. John Ricci on guitar. So I guess my early heroes on guitar were Mark Gallagher of Raven, John Ricci of Exciter and of course Fast Eddie of Mot-rhead."
The first vinyl Razor ever put out was called "Armed And Dangerous" and Dave Carlo explains a little bit more about this rather peculiar piece in vinyl history. Does he still own a copy of this mini-album himself? "Yes, I still have about ten copies of that vinyl myself. We pressed 1,200 copies of 'Armed And Dangerous'. Within the first three or four months after the release we had about 1,100 copies of it sold. So yes, it did become rare. Funnily enough, a couple of years later I found an autographed copy of 'Armed And Dangerous' in a delete bin of a local record store. This must have been 1986 or 1987. So I naturally bought it and kept it myself. Anytime I came across some rare Razor stuff in a return record bin, I always bought it myself." Everybody knows that American band Anthrax has also put out an EP called "Armed And Dangerous", which I, from afar, judged to have been just a curiosity of Metal history, a mere coicidence. However, Dave Carlo begs to differ: "No, it really did piss me off that Anthrax put out an EP called 'Armed And Dangerous'. Anthrax was well aware of Razor although they will tell you they weren't. They were! They knew who we were. And they even knew about our EP. So was it cheesy that they did this? Of course it was! But everything about Anthrax since Joey Belladonna has been involved with them has been cheesy anyway. So that wouldn't be any different. The best Anthrax album is and always will be 'Fistful Of Metal'. And the absolute best thing about 'Fistful Of Metal' is that there were no pictures of Scott Ian on it."
Razor and Anthrax started around the same time. Can Dave still remember the first Razor show? He can: "If I remember correctly, that was at an outdoor fair in my hometown city in Ontario. We were booked as the Heavy Metal band at a bill of so many different styles of music. I think that was back in July of 1984. What I remember most of this gig is parents of small children present at this fair hearing us play songs like 'Fast And Loud' or 'Take This Torch' and physically covering their children's ears. That's what I remember most about that show."
So which Razor album has sold the most copies? Dave stresses that there is not a straight answer for this: "That's a good question. In the early days it was 'Evil Invaders', our second album. I couldn't tell you today because our company that releases our current albums in Canada, a company called Unidisc, isn't working with Razor in the manner we would like and hasn't been properly accounting to us for what they have sold. We have some ongoing legal issues with them."
If you ask me, I would say that "Evil Invaders" is the most popular Razor tune of all. Does Dave Carlo agree? That seems to be the case: "The answer is yes, I do agree. I can give you a reason for that, too. 'Evil Invaders' was the first video we made and it received a lot of television airplay in North America at the time it came out. It was the first Thrash Metal video ever released for broadcasting on television and as a result it helped raising Razor's profile. Anytime you put a video to one of your songs, it tends to make this song one of your most popular songs."
The first three Razor records were released over a very short period of time. Why is that? Did the band have such a wealth material to choose from? According to Dave Carlo, that was not really the case: "Another good question! The answer is no, we didn't have such a wealth of material. The truth is we were under a lot of pressure from our record label to get these records out. They wanted, quite honestly, to capitalize on the popularity of the Thrash Metal scene back at the time. They wanted to make as much money out of the Razor releases as they could. I can't think for one minute that they were thinking of the best interests for the band. When we put 'Executioner's Song' out, within six months they were on our case to come up with a new album. What they wanted to do was to put an album out with the old songs that never made it onto the 'Executioner's Song' album, which is the remainder of the 'Escape The Fire' demo from 1984 and the remaining tracks from 'Armed And Dangerous'. They wanted to put that together and put it out as our second album. Well, our opinion was that this stuff was not even as good as the material on 'Executioner's Song', so why put it out as the second album? So under pressure I convinced the president of Attic Records to let me write another album instead. I said: 'Please don't put that stuff out. Let me write another album for you.' And so I wrote 'Evil Invaders' - quickly and under a lot of pressure. Then they released 'Evil Invaders' and it got critical acclaim. So they put pressure on me to put out another new album, again within six months. And I had to put 'Malicious Intent' together. 'Malicious Intent', I think, has got some good songs on it. But it was difficult for me to produce that much material that quickly. I think 'Malicious Intent' is a little bit weaker than 'Evil Invaders'. And we had some musicianship issues as well as you can tell from the drumming on the album. Everything was being rushed on the recording front. What we should have done was to get some good management and play some live shows. We weren't doing this. The record company was not helping us getting management. We weren't able to find management ourselves as for some reason all Canadian management companies thought Razor was too heavy. They were missing the boat of Thrash Metal. Meanwhile bands like Slayer were getting signed by people like Rick Rubin and taking off. Up in Canada everybody thought Razor was just too heavy! So we missed the wave here. We didn't get that opportunity to tour, instead Attic put pressure on us to come up with new records. So the truth is that I would have preferred that we took a long break after 'Evil Invaders'. I would have waited another 14 to 16 months before we had another release. But as I said, we were under a lot of pressure from the record company."