Black Rose

Boys Will Be Boys

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Like most of the more astute New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands, Black Rose recognized pretty early on that extreme shock tactics -- either musical or thematic -- such as those employed by Venom, Raven, or Angel Witch, could only take a band so far in terms of commercial success. And with the dazzling fireworks of Def Leppard's recent conquest of America no doubt burned into their retinas, the young quartet clearly selected them as role models for their first full-length LP, 1984's Boys Will Be Boys. Beginning with the title track's slick combination of aggressive riffing and friendly chorus, and taking in some exaggerated concessions to commerce (like the all-too dumb "We're Gonna Rock You") along the way, the album is stuffed with rough but ready anthemic rockers such as "Fun and Games," "Stand Your Ground," and "No Point Runnin'" (a reworking of Black Rose's first-ever single). Even the requisite foray into portentous power balladry is pulled off rather impressively via the bombastic, semi-epic drama of "Baby Believe Me." Really, with the exception of a few malformed lowlights ("Just Wanna Be Your Lover," "First Light," "Knocked Out?") to ruin its consistency, a (possibly crazy) point could be made that the only identifiable difference separating Black Rose's material and that of Def Leppard's were the saintly hands of producer Mutt Lange, who sculpted the latter into the pop-metal masterpieces, while here the word "production" never even touched the terribly muddy results. Consider as well Boys Will Be Boys' indie-label status, versus the major marketing and promotional muscle used to drive Pyromania down listeners' throats, and that mysterious gulf between mega-stardom and utter obscurity feels even more unfathomable than usual.

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