Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love, stuff that’s essential listening for students of extreme metal that you may not have ever heard of. Stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. Actually, that’s a lie — one of the members of this week’s entrant also appeared on Watchtower’s Control and Resistance. However, before he sang on that obscure classic, he lent his pipes to something even less well-known: Hades’ Resisting Success (Torrid).
This album was first brought to my attention when it placed at number 425 in Chuck Eddy’s essential false-metal compendium Stairway to Hell: the 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe (Hall of Famers …And Justice for All and Reign in Blood also appeared in the bottom hundred, along with the only entries from White Zombie, Anthrax, Death Angel, Diamond Head, and Manowar, so it’s in good company). While that book has led me to a lot of great music, Resisting Success is one of the few actual metal albums it’s introduced me to. And it’s weird that that would be one of the few places that acknowledges its existence — Allmusic.com doesn’t even have an entry for the record!
Formed in 1982 in the heart of New Jersey, Hades tossed out a few tracks on Megaforce and Metal Blade compilations before guitarist Dan Lorenzo decided that nobody in the band was working out except for him. Usually that’s a good way to shoot your nascent band in the back of the head, but Lorenzo actually put together an even stronger lineup, including the aforementioned future Watchtower vocalist, Alan Tecchio. They put out a 45 and a couple demos (Eddy describes the “Widow’s Mite” 45 as “a dimwitted Judas Priest/Jesus Christ Superstar mix”) before failing to strike gold with 1987’s Resisting Success (feel free to insert your own joke here).
The thing that made Hades such an interesting group — and probably ultimately doomed them — was how hard they were to pin down, which seems to be a running theme with the Lazarus Pit entrants. Sure, they had lots of metal thrashing madness, but they also had some speed metal, lots of progressive elements, and Tecchio’s distinctive falsetto on top. His shrieks weren’t as unhinged as King Diamond’s, but they but they also lacked the rawness (and, let’s face it, tunelessness) of his thrash contemporaries. Meanwhile, Lorenzo and Ed Fuhrman were doing advanced mathematics with their guitars, and even if they hadn’t calculated infinity yet, that level of technicality was unusual for the time (and let’s face it, Voivod weren’t exactly blowing up the planet at the time). Not exactly the recipe for success in the era of faster-and-louder.
So, that leaves us with nine timeless cruise missiles aimed squarely at The Man. “The Leaders?” opens with a straight up Slayer riff before hitting lightspeed — I’m honestly not sure how Tecchio kept up. “On to Iliad” would have fit perfectly onJudas Priest’s Painkiller a scant few years later, down to a long Halford scream — and Hades’ “Nightstalker” almost matches the intensity of “Nightcrawler.” Dave Mustaine didn’t lend his axe to “Legal Tender,” but it’s pretty hard to tell the difference. “Resist Success” features some of their most adept gear-changing (bass solo!) and a shout-along chorus that would be anthemic if it wasn’t buried under such a muddy mix. Then the album does an abrupt gear-change of its own with the pro-Jesus, pro-Baroque doom of “The Cross” and a nine-minute concept suite about Edgar Allan Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death.” It’s not hard to imagine why headbangers couldn’t figure out what to make of them at the time.
After this, Hades went on to release a sequel, the optimistically-titled If at First You Don’t Succeed, before breaking up and reforming a few times, each subsequent effort bearing lesser fruit. However, you can hear their influence in Cynic and Atheist, so it wasn’t all a wash. Resisting Success (along with a newly-recorded bonus track featuring some questionable right wing politics) was reissued in 2005 with its successor, so at least it’s still around for a new generation to discover. And even though another New Jersey band from the same time period would be the one that went on to hit it big, that group was in the top 100 in Stairway to Hell. Which makes Hades still way more metal.