Overdrive – A Grave Mistake

Overdrive
A Grave Mistake
1989 (no label)
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Doug Levy – Lead vocals, harmony vocals, backing vox
Bill Goodwin – Bass guitar, backup vocals
Jimmy Prior – Rhythm guitar, leads, harmony vocals, backing vox
Stacy Puckett – Rhythm guitar, harmony leads, acoustic, keys, baking vox
Bobby Collins – Drums and percussion

Side 1:

  1. When the “Saints” Go Marching In
  2. Standing in Line

Side 2:

  1. Light a Candle for Me
  2. You Need a Friend

Overdrive was a progressive power metal band that list Barren Cross, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Deliverance, Metallica, Queensryche, and Anthrax as influences. I don’t really see the Kiss influence, but the others I can see in their mid-80s versions. Of course, they could have also listed bands that also have these influences from that time period as well (Helloween, Fates Warning, Leatherwolf, etc) as better references in my opinion. All of these songs were released on their 2006 compilation CD Remembering the Basher, along with their earlier self-titled demo and demos from when they were known as Damascus and then Sacred Heart. The sound quality is quite good on this demo, and the song writing is almost up to par with the bands they were influenced by (a few rough spots, especially in the song intros, but nothing too bad). The weird thing is that the cassette card is designed and printed in backwards order on the card. I believe that was intentional due to the name of the demo being about a “mistake.” But you never know with these underground demos.

Sentry – Sick of the Darkness

Sentry
Sick of the Darkness
1989 (no label)
Quincy, Massachusetts, USA

Dave McCreary – Lead vocals, guitars, and backing vocals
Jeffrey Stewart – Drums, funny face, and backing vocals
Tim Knepper – Keyboards and hair flips
Steve Knepper – Bass and thuds

Side 1:

  1. The Choice
  2. Passing Moments
  3. Living in a Lie

Side 2:

  1. Sick of the Darkness
  2. Hope for You and I
  3. Heaven Bound

Slick, syrupy sweet hair metal with a heavy dose of keyboards. This sound was all the rage back in the late 80s. Some of the songs here seem to bring in a slight mid-80s progressive rock slant in places (especially in the keyboards and song lengths), making this an interesting combination. But the layered, soaring background vocals keep it grounded in commercial metal. This is well played, written, and packaged music. The vocals do sound a hair off in places, but nothing too major. You can tell from the pictures and extensive liner notes / thank yous (including a weird swipe at people that used stage names in metal bands) that these guys probably had a size-able following back in the day. This is the second demo, following 1988’s Breakin’ Free. After that – I can’t find much more about the band.

 

Tribe of Dan – The Beep Tapes

Tribe of Dan
The Beep Tapes
1989 Mister M Records (MRM 001)
Combs, England, United Kingdom

Dan Donovan – Lead vocals, guitars
Solze – Bass
Mark Stirk – Keyboards, vocals
Ali Byworth – Drums

Side 1:

  1. Learning From You
  2. Cooking Pot

Side 2:

  1. Just a Little Bit More
  2. Away From Here

This is the first Tribe of Dan tape that Dan Donovan recorded after Back to Jordan. I’m not really sure what a Beeb is, though :). The music here is a tiny bit more alternative and melancholy than their later full-length, but you definitely see where they are going. The driving rock part is still in full force. “Cooking Pot” and “Away from Here” would appear again on the next demo (Git Down, Thrash It: Live), but none of these songs made it onto either of their full-length releases. Donovan also went on to record many solo albums, as well as form bands like The Swamp Cranks and King Kool. But this early work is just as engaging as his later work, unlike many artists that started off rough and improved over time. Donovan does improve over time, but his early work is also incredibly strong in its’ own right.

Dan H – Intentions

Dan H
Intentions
1989 (no label)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Dan H – Vocals, guitar
Trent Norton – Bass guitar
Marty MacKeever
Rick Moe

Side 1:

  1. Harley
  2. Intentions
  3. The Wave
  4. Find Myself
  5. Shadow

Side 2:

  1. Lay by My Side
  2. When He Says No
  3. Darkest Hour
  4. All Things Come Around

Another quality release from Dan H and company. This one feels a slight bit more pop than other releases, but they are all usually alternative rock albums with pop sensibilities anyways. Some of these songs appear to have been re-recorded on later releases, most notably is “Harley” on Harley in 1995. And understandably so: it is a catchy song. There is also a killer bass riff in “Find Myself” that I love. There is great songwriting and musicianship across the whole album, but I really connected with that song. There really is not a specific list of who played what on here (just a list of names), but the ones I have noted above are based on past albums and could be wrong.

Missing Information: Who played what specifically?

Ozmathoq – Dance of the Cobra

Ozmathoq
Dance of the Cobra
1989 The Furnace Room
East Canton, Ohio, USA

Dan Marsh – Lead and acoustic guitars
Kevin March – Bass and backing vocals
Bob Lincoln – Lead vocals
Jim Wells – Drums and background vocals

  1. Psalms 150
  2. Psalms 8
  3. Dance of the Cobra
  4. Final Warning
  5. More Than a Hero

Ozmathoq is a bit of an odd band – pretty much a traditional metal / occasionally thrash band that ended up on labels more known for experimental alternative and noise music. They started off on Chris Yambar’s The Furnace Room label, but that was merged with Corpquii Productions and they made the switch as well. This tape was re-issued on Corpquii in 1991. The band went on hiatus in 1995, but came back and re-issued some of these songs on BandCamp (https://ozmathoq.bandcamp.com) (although I think these versions might be from a later unreleased session they did with Randy Dyer). The sound on this demo is very muddy, but they do pull off some credible metal despite that. And that is not a typo in the two song titles – they went for “Psalms” instead of “Psalm.”

The Throes – The Era of Condolence

The Throes
The Era of Condolence
1989 (no label)
Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Harold G. Evans III – The drums, tympany, extraneous percussion, and other voice
William C. Campbell IV – The guitar, the harpsicord, and the voice

Dean Nitz – The bass
Wendy Woods – Sang some

Side 1:

  1. Come Home
  2. Heritage
  3. Think of You
  4. Elizabeth

Side 2:

  1. Circles
  2. No Map
  3. Dead End Street

The debut demo from The Throes, and what a demo it is. The Throes went on to being signed to all kinds of labels, and this demo was even released with a special edition of their 12 Before 9 album that was released in a round metal tin (it was a 90s thing). The Throes did the whole “90s jangle alternative rock” sound very, very well. Their sound has been compared to a mixture of R.E.M. and The Smiths, and I think that is a good description for this demo. Some sources say that “Elizabeth” was not on this demo, but this copy has it at the end of side 2. Of course, it is pretty obvious that the song title was added to the J-card after it was printed, so I wonder if they just forgot to label some tapes? Interestingly, none of the songs here made it onto any of their later albums (although “Elizabeth” and “Dead End Street” got considerable attention from being featured on the Arghhh!!! compilation by R.E.X. Records). Probably one of my top favorite demos of this genre.

Scarlet Rayne – Test Demo

Scarlet Rayne
Test Demo
1989 (no label)
Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA

Possible members:

Danyl Johnston – Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Kyle David – Bass, Guitars
Crash – Drums
Kevin Machain – Keyboards

Side 1:

  1. Scarlet Rayne
  2. Alpha & Omega
  3. Sands of Time
  4. Midnight Excursion
  5. Covered Fear
  6. C.F.C.

Side 2:

  1. Tales of the Lost
  2. Through Eyes of the Past

Scarlet Rayne went on to underground fame after releasing Theater Humanitarian in 1990. I would assume this is the test demo for that release. Nothing is really listed on the tape other than the band’s manager, but I would assume this had the same line-up as the full release from 1990. The arrangements are mostly the same as the ones on their full release, but it sounds like these might be earlier recordings. The main difference is in the song order. The band’s sound is often compared to Queensryche, but I would say there is a good mixture of many classic and progressive metal bands like Sacred Warrior and Fates Warning as well. Theater Humanitarian has been reissued several times over the years on CD and vinyl.