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Music Review: Fight – K5: The War of Words Demos

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My journey into music started off spotty, insubstantial, and at times downright embarrassing. While my childhood best friend (Matt Byrne of Hatebreed) was listening to Metallica, Slayer, King Diamond, and Judas Priest, I was content with Def Leppard, Europe, Poison, and Winger (yes, you read that right). So, my early music days, while nostalgia building, were not terribly serious about the metal. Matt introduced me to Judas Priest with 1990's Painkiller. It was an absolutely killer album helped to break me of pop/hair/glam rock/metal tendencies in favor of something a bit more substantial. Of course, my affair with Priest was shortlived as Halford left the group, and I never took the time to go back and pick up any previous releases. Then, one day in the summer 1993, Rob Halford appeared on my television with a new band. Fight was on MTV's Headbanger's Ball to promote the impending release of their debut album, War of Words.

From the moment that band appeared on the small television songs such as "Kill it," "Nailed to the Gun," and "For All Eternity" would become ingrained in my psyche. I remember going out and getting a cassette (remember those?). How I loved that album. It had a bit of the Priest sound, but how is a band fronted by Rob Halford expected not to have that as an automatic comparison? However, despite the ghost of Priest-past floating overhead, Fight forged ahead. They featured a darker, heavier sound that stood on its own. It had a much more raw feeling to it. Following War of Words, there were two other Fight releases, 1994's live/remix EP called Mutations, and 1995's Small Deadly Space. Neither of those releases lived-up to the bar set by War of Words, but there are still good tunes.

That brings me to K5 – The War of Words Demos. This is a collection of demos covering the majority of those initial songs, as well as a few new ones that failed to make the original cut. Now, considering the new tracks and the fact that the album is comprised or early versions of previously released material, I cannot in good conscience recommend this to the casual listener. If you are curious, begin with War of Words. However, for those Fight diehards and Halford-lovers (you know who you are), this is going to be a must have. It is fascinating to listen to these early takes and see the evolution from this form to the finished versions.

In the time leading up to Halford's split, citing "creative differences," he was working on a great number of song ideas for what would become fight. With a number of finished tunes, he brought in guitarists Brian Tilse and Russ Parrish, bassist Jay Jay, and drummer Scott Travis (who came with Halford from Judas Priest). Together, they went to work fine-tuning the Halford songs into a finished album.

While recording Halford had them turn on the recorders, in order to create reference tracks to use while refining the music. This album contains those early recordings. It is fascinating to listen to these songs, slipping into their familiarity but being surprised by the differences. Many of the songs are slower than the final cuts, and there are a lot of little guitar fills and such that are not here. It is like listening to these songs for the first time. It also proves just how great Fight was.

The songs captured here are raw, intimate, and not perfect. When we are used to perfect mixes and spotless recordings, Rob Halford is secure enough to put his voice, and his band, out there, exposed to the world, warts and all.

Bottomline. In lieu of a new Fight album, a new Judas Priest album, or any other new material, this fills the hole rather nicely. Let this album take you back to a time when metal ruled the world. Now, will anyone explain the "We are Pantera" vibe of the cover photo?

Highly Recommended.

Track List:
1. Into The Pit
2. Nailed To The Gun

3. Now You Die (new)
4. Life In Black
5. Kill It
6. Contortion
7. Forbidden (new)
8. War Of Words
9. Psycho Suicide
10. Down (new)
11. Vicious Beast Denies (new)
12. Laid To Rest
13. Jesus Saves
14. Dead Men Talk (new)
15. For All Eternity

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