Flash Metal Suicide: Keel
This week: the debut album from LA pretty boys Keel, Lay Down the Law. Is it the ultimate flash metal record?
“It’s ok baby, just put on your safety belt and hold on for your life” - Speed Demon
First of all, I'd say it's about time Ronny Keel was granted some level of heavy metal sainthood. I mean, he's no Lemmy, but he's at least, say, a Fast Eddie. For proof, let's look at Steeler for a moment. Ron formed Steeler in his hometown of Nashville in the early 80's. There was no way his sexed-up screech metal was gonna play in that cowpokin' burg, so he moved the whole act to LA, where he scrambled to find the best-looking/best-playing show-goons in town. For the former he nabbed pretty-boy bassist Rik Fox and for the latter, at the behest of Shrapnel records head-honcho/shredder groupie Mike Varney, he landed one Yngwie J. Malmsteen, AKA the most difficult motherfucker who ever picked up a guitar.
Shrapnel, incidentally, was the first all-metal record label, beating Metal Blade to the punch by a year. So there's that. Malmsteen was only in the band for a few months, long enough to record their self-titled '83 debut and play a few gigs before he split to join Graham Bonnet's short-haired, lite-metal outfit Alcatrazz. If the Steeler album is any indication, those had to be the longest months of Ron Keel's life. For a while (a good chunk of '83, at least), Steeler was the biggest selling indie album of all-time. It's still in print, and for a certain segment of guitar-wank fetishists, it's considered a classic. It is most definitely a precursor to power metal, and hits all the big dumb chest-thumper notes that would be recycled endlessly by the flash metal hordes that followed in its wake.