After Your Brain [White & Red Splatter Vinyl]

Raw Power

(LP - Back on Black #BOBV 902LPLTD)

Review by Eduardo Rivadavia

After scaling unforeseen heights of international success with their 1984 hardcore/metal crossover masterpiece, Screams from the Gutter, Italy's Raw Power tumbled back to earth somewhat with its 1986 follow-up, After Your Brain. Lost here was the unparalleled intensity heard on Screams, and gained (if you can call it that) a subpar production job that didn't do enough justice to this unusually instrumentally gifted quartet; yet the thorniest issue of all for die-hard fans may have been the genre-bending chances taken by the group in a bid to keep things interesting. After all, it was one thing to dabble in plain old punk rock ("Keep Out," "Shut Up," the Dead Kennedys inspired "Buy and Pay") or jam guitar solos worthy of the era's best heavy metal shredders (see "You are Fired," "Just Another Cry," "Nothing Better to Do," "No Place to Hide") into the generally frugal songwriting constraints of hardcore (although there were plenty of those too, including "Dreamer," "What For" and the title track). But it was another thing entirely to risk flirting with mainstream ‘80s rock, which, all prejudices and preconceived expectations aside, actually bred excellent results via the melodic guitars and catchy chorus of "Is there Anything You Like," the new wave-ish intro effects of "What Have We Done," and the almost radio-friendly, uncharacteristically uplifting "We Shall Overcome." Unfortunately, all this was a tad too much for most of the band's crossover audience to stomach, while remaining too uncommercial to attract mainstream consumers (no thanks to the aforementioned production doldrums), leaving Raw Power stuck between a rock and a hard place, as it were, in terms of their career prospects.