Aragorn

Noonday: The Aragorn Anthology

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Leave it to the diehards at Castle/Sanctuary to put out an anthology from a band that never released a full-length record. Cheshire, England's Aragorn scored a cult hit in 1981 with the vicious "Black Ice," a last gasp of brutality from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. It's the death of that scene and the group's inability to secure its lineup that led to its short-lived career. After the initial success of that first single the band continued to record, eventually completing a rough version of a completed record but never seeing its release. Considering that the majority of the tracks on Noonday: The Aragorn Anthology were remastered from a fan's existing cassette copy, the collection works in a lo-fi Stooges kind of way. "Black Ice" and its original B-side, "Noonday," are full-throttle rockers that feature the snarling vocals of Chris Dunne, whose snide growl brings to mind modern-day metal vocalists like Megadeth's Dave Mustaine. "We'll Fight Back" is a ferocious Black Sabbath-esque rocker that showcases the band's raucous energy, and "The Night Is Burning" sounds like a thrash version of T. Rex. The demos are of poor quality, but succeed in a Nuggets fashion with their one-microphone, needle-in-the-red intensity -- the "Black Ice" demo segues into Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water," and a particularly crunchy version of Golden Earring's "Radar Love," despite a weak chorus, actually does the original justice. Even with the Eddie Van Halen "Eruption" knockoff "Midnight Hour" -- which more closely resembles the toneless soloing of Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel -- Noonday: The Aragorn Anthology is an interesting look at a talented band that lacked the tenacity to survive amidst the turbulent seas of new wave's dawn.

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