Welcome back to The Lazarus Pit, a look back at should-be classic records that don’t get nearly enough love. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at Maineeaxe’s 1984 debut, Shout It Out.
This UK-based trad/NWOBHM band is definitely more or less forgotten or maybe remembered for the outrageous matching-red outfits and utterly charming “Look at us, mom!” photos on their second album, 1985’s Going for Gold, but probably basically just forgotten. But there’s a reason that their 1984 debut Shout It Out gets reissued every decade or so (okay, fine: once in 2010 and once in 2019), and it goes beyond the fact that, admittedly, lots of old stuff gets reissued these days, for better or for worse. It gets reissued because this is good stuff, the band coming out strong here, laying down a white-hot economic sound that straddles the line wonderfully between the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, trad metal and even early hair metal if you really think about it. It’s a fun record, it’s not perfect, but it’s deserves to be remembered, which is what we’re going to do today.
Opener “Run to the Angels” immediately shows tons of smart riffing, like NWOBHM filtered through prime-era Ratt with a soaring trad metal chorus that sticks in your brain. And the Ratt reference is important: I mentioned early hair, and this is what I meant, the reputable stuff that even the most hard-nosed NWOBHM rocker had to admit was good—your early Quiet Riot records, your early Twisted Sister records. The riffs here are next-door neighbors to the riffs there, and it’s all good, man.
I love “Gonna Make You Rock”’s almost-smart riffing and song structure, and the chorus is ambitious but works, in a charming way. It shows the two things this band really were strong at: riffs and songwriting, and here the chorus vocal line is one to remember, and the riffs back it up exactly as they should.
The ballads on these records almost always stink, but “The Game” is actually a pretty likeable and ambitious attempt at one, the band reaching for something a bit more intelligent than the usual pandering broken-heart hit single and almost getting there.
“Steel on Steel” kicks off asking if they are evil, and yes they are, well, kinda, not as much as Diamond Head, as the first riff here would like you to believe, but… okay, Maineeaxe are not evil, but Maineeaxe are kinda more fun to listen to than a lot of Diamond Head songs are because they know when to end the damn song, and they know how to have fun. “Steel on Steel” is fun.
The title track again flirts NWOBHM, trad, and early, ragged Sunset Strip rock and I’m sold, I’m wondering why we’re all not more sold on this album, really. Sure, it’s not like the vocal performance is one you’ll be talking about for years after—if anything, it’s a bit unremarkable—but it serves the greater good of these good-and-almost-great songs.
“Rough Trade” is a fantastic deep cut, majestic, tapping into how metal makes you feel ready to take on the world, tons of excellent riffs again making you think, wow, this band is all about the power of the riff. Again, it’s nothing you’ll be talking about years later—pretty sure no one has talked about Maineeaxe’s riffs in a long, long time—but they hold up a record that, yes, maybe isn’t breaking down to the doors to our Hall of Fame, but is certainly worth remembering all the same.
I love all songs called “Rock City” or any variations of that name, and here “Rock City” showcases both great vocals and a wildly energetic verse, set over killer riffs—again, I’m thinking the good stuff from Ratt—that close off the album with style, the band blazing off into the sunset before releasing one more album shockingly soon after this one then really blazing off into the sunset, destined to be just one of countless metal bands watching their dreams slip through their hands in 1986, 1987, left wondering why the almighty riff didn’t give them more. Hey, no need to worry anymore, guys. The riffs live on, not forgotten, still delivering power and energy decades later, giving us everything they couldn’t give you as the ’80s started coming to a close, riffs echoing in the sky, making promises that they will ring forever, even if it’s only for the chosen few and not for the masses.