Villain - Time Machine
Relentless Records
80's Heavy Metal/Rock
15 songs (68:57)
Release year: 2003
Villain, Relentless Records
Reviewed by Ken
Archive review

On April 22, 1995, the metal community tragically lost one of the greatest and most underrated vocalists to ever grace our ears with his voice. His name was Carl Albert. Most knew him as the vocalist for the long-running Vicious Rumors—which he joined around 1987. While most of his career was spent in Vicious Rumors, it actually began years earlier in Ruffians and Villain (the band he left the aforementioned band to join).

The early Eighties saw the birth of countless killer bands around the Bay Area in California, the focus has always been on the thrash bands, but there were many more non-thrash bands from that area that benefited from that scene focus. Of course, that era of music clearly needs no introduction or elaboration. Like all moments in time when a tiny spot on a map seems to explode onto the scene with a certain musical style at the forefront (Seattle and grunge, Florida and death metal), there is always those bands that go unnoticed and seemingly disappear, almost like they never existed at all. Oftentimes those bands are clearly more deserving of the fandom and fame of other less-deserving bands. Villain was essentially one of those bands. Initially a cover band in 1984, they quickly began writing original material and by 1986 had acquired a new vocalist by the name of Carl Albert. That same year the band released a seven-track EP called Only Time Will Tell. Sadly, shortly after the release of this album the band succumbed to band/management/label drama and broke up. The EP subsequently disappeared—most remaining copies stolen from the label owner’s home by disgruntled band members—and most outside of the Bay Area never heard it around that time. In years since it has been bootlegged countless times, and once officially re-released by Mausoleum Records. Relentless Records also re-released it in 2003, the reissue included the seven original tracks that were on Only Time Will Tell, plus five live tracks and three rehearsal tracks from 1986. This reissue was renamed Time Machine.

Villain fell somewhere between traditional Eighties heavy/speed metal and Eighties rock. They could be fast and heavy, but also melodic. The Only Time Will Tell portion of this CD begins with “Kamikaze,” a borderline power/speed metal anthem that brings to mind early Savatage and even a little Helloween. Carl Albert’s vocals take on a John Arch (Fates Warning) tone and the guitars courtesy of Greg E. Noll and Leon B. Smith are fast and frenetic; Tommy Sisco (also a former member of Vicious Rumors) supplies the bass lines and for an Eighties metal release you can actually hear it quite well (though the overall production is definitely dated); Rob Quillen offers up some dynamic drumming with classy fills, double-bass and a steady, well-played rhythmic foundation. The title track follows and it’s hard to not imagine it was the late Criss Oliva (Savatage) playing the opening riff. The song itself isn’t as fast as “Kamikaze,” but it is just as killer, boasting an awesome, anthemic chorus. An uptempo cover of Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” is up next and it’s a pretty solid cover of a great tune, a bit faster and heavier than the original with double-bass and a heavier guitar tone. “She’ll Make You Fall (In Love)” starts off like a ballad with some acoustic and piano work, but after a minute switches to an uptempo rock/metal jam with a strong chorus. The last half of the song brings the acoustics and piano back in briefly before the heaviness returns for an encore. “Kids Of Crime” is another heavy rocker with a solid chorus and a total power metal mid-section. The album’s one and only true ballad follows; “Just Close Your Eyes” is eerily similar to Dokken’s “Alone Again,” the vocal melody and build-up to the chorus is very similar, but the song definitely holds its own with a great chorus which sounds nothing like the Dokken song. It’s easily one of the best tracks on the album (to speculate at this point whether or not the similarity was intentional is pointless, both songs came out at relatively the same time). “Thrills In The Night,” another great, heavy rock/metal song, drops the curtain (to a standing ovation) on Only Time Will Tell.

Those seven tracks alone would justify the score, but there’s a few things that make the second half of this album equally as great. First, for it being 1986 and five tracks having been recorded from a live show and three from a rehearsal session, the sound quality is excellent considering. Second, not a single song comes from the Only Time Will Tell EP, they’re all unique to the second half of this album. Third, and most importantly, they’re all very good at the least. “Don’t You Forget It” and “Hungry For Glory” kick off the live portion in grand fashion, both heavy and catchy; killer tunes. “Loud” is a driving, heavy rock number with a cheesy “we like it loud” chorus. It’s probably the weakest of the tracks, but it’s still very good. “Solos” is just that—sort of a mislabeled “track”—a drum solo followed by some guitar solos. Another great song finishes the live tracks; “Power Of The Night” is another impressive, heavy metal track with a great melody and lead work, but is slightly lacking in the hook department compared to some other tracks. The first of the rehearsal tracks is “#3,” a very good metal instrumental, but without vocals you’ll likely skip it after the first few listens. “Time To Fight” and “If You Can’t Rock” close out the CD, the former being one of the heavier, faster tracks on the album with a great, groovy chorus; the latter is a classy rock tune, anthemic chorus and a little bit of cheese for good measure.

There are hidden gems stretching from corner to corner on the metal map and, like with all treasures, the hard part is finding them. Villain were a gem of the early Eighties metal scene, not part of the Bay Area thrash explosion, but clearly deserving of the little attention they did receive thanks to that scene’s popularity. The original album is extremely hard to find, and the bootlegs and official reissues are just slightly easier to find. This album is, in any form (original vinyl, reissue, or even bootleg), a testament to the legacy of Carl Albert and his amazing voice, not to mention a great band in a brief moment of time. But more importantly, this is great music that deserves to be heard, a treasure worthy of discovery.

AUDIO: Click HERE for 30-second clips of all songs.

Note: In time these links will likely becoming outdated.

Killing Songs :
Kamikaze, Only Time Will Tell, Kids Of Crime, Just Close Your Eyes, Power Of The Night (Live), Don't You Forget It (Live), Time To Fight (Rehearsal) and If You Can't Rock (Rehearsal)
Ken quoted 90 / 100
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