If ever a heavy metal band set themselves up to be knocked down, it was Krokus. On the three albums now reissued on Rock Candy – Metal Rendez-vous (1980), Hardware (1981) and One Vice At A Time (1982) – they ripped off AC/DC to such an extent that one song, Shy Kid, had almost identical opening lines to those sung by Bon Scott on AC/DC’s 1976 blues Ride On.
The Swiss AC/DC, in their big-haired, riff-heavy, lyrically-dodgy early-80s pomp.
The consensus on Krokus was memorably summed up when Sounds writer Garry Bushell likened the band to a light-fingered Liverpudlian brickie nicknamed Diesel, who would nick other people’s tools while cheerfully remarking: “Dese’ll do.” But what Krokus lacked in originality, they made up for by kicking ass. The band was a heavy-riffing powerhouse. They had great songs – genuine hard rock anthems. And while their singer, Malta-born Marc Storace, had the look of a stereotypical hairy-chested Mediterranean waiter, he could holler a tune like Bon, Brian Johnson and Noddy Holder.
Metal Rendez-vous (7/10) was the album that established them on the international stage after their first three records had tanked. Opening track Heatstrokes set the tone with its no-nonsense bludgeon riffola. And while Bedside Radio and Back-Seat Rock ‘N’ Roll were pure AC/DC homage, there was a flavour of the Scorpions on the pre-PC ballad Tokyo Nights, in which Storace croons with misplaced sincerity: ‘A yellow girl appeared and made me hot’.
The follow-up, Hardware (6/10), was a little patchy, but its best tracks are quintessential idiot-savant heavy metal. Mr. 69 is a flat-out head-banger in which Storace tells the story of a man who died as he lived: ‘He did choke on a lady’s sanitary pad’; Smelly Nelly combines a wonderfully greasy riff with bizarre, pigeon-mimicking vocal ad-libs, and a sexist lyric straight out of the ‘bottom’ drawer: ‘Her skin is dry and spotty, but her ass is just the best’.
What followed was the absolute pinnacle of the band’s career: One Vice At A Time (8/10). Undeniably, it sounded like AC/DC. But with smokin’ tracks such as Long Stick Goes Boom, Playin’ The Outlaw and To The Top, it’s better than any album AC/DC made after For Those About To Rock. Seriously. Krokus were arguably the most underrated band of their time. This proves it.