Spatt – Smell

1994 (no label)
Goffstown, New Hampshire, USA

Christian Skinner – Vocals, acoustic guitar
Scott Young – keyboards, vocals
James (Jimmies) Magoon – Electric guitar
Bryan Young – Bass guitar, vocals
Rich Araldi – Drums

  1. Farm
  2. Signs of the Times
  3. Some Day in May
  4. Higher Than

I thought something looked familiar about the band name, but I wasn’t quite sure. Then I started playing the first song, and I recognized it from somewhere. I did a quick search through my music files and finally realized why this band was familiar: they appeared on the Light From the Underground Volume 1 compilation in 1994. Two of the songs here – “Farm” and “Some Day in May” are featured on that compilation, and sound to be the same recordings. I kind of liked “Farm,” but never got into the other song. The two additional songs on this demo are more like “Some Day in May,” so overall it is too mellow for me. This was the time period where bands like Caedmon’s Call were paving the way for Jars of Clay, so all kinds of acoustic coffee shop bands were getting their 5 minutes. The band members’ full names were taken from the Light compilation, which said they had been together for 8 year in 1994, but were all 21 or younger.

Telos – Sound the Alarm

Sound the Alarm
1989 (no label)
Somis, California, USA

Side 1:

  1. Take Him
  2. Aiming for My Heart
  3. Light in the Distance
  4. Rock for the Rock
  5. Sound the Alarm
  6. Sound the Alarm (reprise)

Side 2:

  1. Catch the Morning Star
  2. Killing all the Children
  3. Holy Spirit
  4. The Struggle
  5. Keep Your Eyes on Him
  6. The Gift is Love

Another mystery release – it has a cover and an address on the tape, but no song names, band information, or details at all. What is weird is that they obviously had a decent budget to get a good recording of 12 tracks and design/print a decent cover – but I can find no information about them online. Usually bands with the ability to pull off this kind of recording have some kind of tribute online. Oh, well. Again, I guessed at the song names above. The sound is straight forward heavy metal, residing somewhere between Judas Priest and sunset strip commercial metal.

Missing Information: Who played on this?

Thryce – Demo

19?? (no label)

  1. Silent Speech
  2. From the Grave
  3. Here to Stay

No information about this one – can’t find anything online. What you see on the cassette above is all there is. I even had to guess at the track names. It is mostly mid-paced keyboard-based metal. The lead singer struggles to hit notes very noticeably in places. Could be that he couldn’t sing, or it could be that they had limited studio time and a bad day of recording. Who knows? The first two songs speed up near the middle or end, but overall the demo needs a few songs that pick up the pace. The second song works pretty well (if you can fix the vocals). I would ditch the first track and add two faster shred numbers. And maybe get a better ballad at the end. The one on here is a bit too generic.

Missing Information: Song names, who played on this, release year, etc.

Harold Evans – Hollow

Harold Evans
1992 (no label)

  1. In My Ear
  2. Men Who Know the Future
  3. Please Don’t Go (R.C.)
  4. Direction
  5. What Matters
  6. Confused
  7. See Me Clearly

Harold Evans is probably best known for his work with The Throes and Poole. These songs were attached to a tape full of demos from The Throes in 1992. They are listed as unmixed demos, but the sound is pretty good for “unmixed.” Other than that – I really don’t know much more than that. I am assuming Evans handled all instruments and vocals on this demo. Also, I can’t really find any evidence that this was released at any point. “In My Ear” was released on a couple of Poole singles/Eps, though. So maybe these songs morphed into Poole songs? The sound here is generally alternative like his other bands, but with fuzzier guitars and a shoe-gaze quality to the vocals. But too peppy and upbeat at times to be shoegaze 🙂

Missing Information: Did anyone else play on this?

Redeemer – Redeemer

1994 (no label)
Iva, South Carolina, USA

Possible band members:

Tim Ashley – Vocals, guitars
David Whitten – Bass
Mike Cyphers – Drums

Side 1:

  1. The Battle
  2. Send Me
  3. Stand Up
  4. Not a Pretty Sight
  5. Calvary’s Cross

Side 2:

  1. Go for the Blood
  2. The Way
  3. Tear Down the Walls
  4. The Firing Line
  5. White Knight

This is an interesting demo. I can find the same band listed on several metal websites, with a self-titled demo from 1994. But that self-titled demo has some different songs on it. I assume this is a lesser known demo by the same band – it’s the same address in South Carolina, but this demo doesn’t list band members. “Firing Line,” “White Knight,” “Stand Up,” and “The Way” are all on the other demo, which I am not sure if it is an earlier or later demo. One site even lists the band as being thrash metal similar to Metallica. That is not the case here. There is a distinct AC/DC influence on this demo, although there are also times when various glam/commercial metal influences poke out as well (like in “Send Me”). Of course, this style was considered dead in 1994, so it probably didn’t get the band much attention back then. Maybe they went in a more Metallica-esque direction after this? The last track on this demo does have a thrash-inspired breakdown in it. This is a really good demo, well-performed and quality songwriting. I would love to hear the other S/T demo from them.

Missing Information: Who played on this demo

Martha’s Wake – Romans (demo)

Martha’s Wake
199? (no label)
Denver, Colorado, USA

Leah Carson – Vocals
Lori Carter – Backup vocals and flute
Drew Collins – Drums
Jon Nichols – Guitar
Melody Nichols – Bass and back-up vocals
J.W. Penzien – Keyboards

Side 1:

  1. Burn Out
  2. Lament of Planet Earth
  3. Just Like Me

Side 2:

  1. Righteous Man
  2. Scarlet Letter
  3. Café Moderato

I recently discovered Martha’s Wake when I got a copy of their excellent 1998 full-length Time and Elements. They had a very eclectic mix of metal, progressive, gothic, and alternative music that stayed pretty original. I tracked down their other albums – Coloring China and Romans. Both are also very good, but they are obviously moving up to Time & Elements. The weird thing is that the Romans full-length CD has 10 songs on it – the six listed above and four others, all in different order. I don’t know if this is pre-release, an earlier demo that was expanded to full-length by adding four new songs, or a completely different recording of the same songs. There is no date on this demo. It looks like Lori married J.W. sometime between this demo and the CD, though. But I still like the music a lot. Songs like “Lament of Planet Earth” are really catchy and almost straight up 90s alternative… but then they start mixing in touches of progressive metal here and there.

Missing Information: what date was this recorded, and how does it relate to the full length CD?

Damascus – Timeless

1987 (no label)
Mount Prospect, Illinois, USA

Cliff Ziebruck – Bass guitar
Dave Coy – Drums and percussion
Tom McKeown – Lead and background vocals, all keyboards, guitar on “The Keeper”
Marc Reich – Lead and background vocals, guitar

Side 1:

  1. Time for a Season
  2. What Four?
  3. A Knight to Remember

Side 2:

  1. Timeless
  2. Lord of the Mountain
  3. The Keeper

Damascus returns for their third demo. The progressive rock and pomp are all continued on this album. This demo rarely reaches the “heavy metal” stage, except maybe on songs like “The Keeper.” But it is still tightly played and well written progressive rock. Probably the best of three that I have heard so far (including their 1983 demo and 1984’s Will I Find You There?). Of course, three years have passed since their last demo, so thankfully they did progress. Three years after this, they released Soon… The Doors Will Open and then called it a day.