WINTERKAT – The Struggle [20th Century Music remastered +4] (2019) HQ *Exclusive*

EYES (Jeff Scott Soto) - 24U [2-CD Set] Out Of Print - full

Cast your mind back to the mid-1980s, where if you happened to be in San Antonio, Texas it was one of North America’s hottest metal cities, chances are you might have caught sight of Heather Leather, Wyzard, the infamous hard rockers S.A. Slayer or hometown heroes WINTERKAT.
WINTERKAT emerged from the Lone Star state with a sublime blend of pomp rock, progressive leanings, AOR sensibilities and hard rock muscle as documented on a pair of independently issued EPs that have since become vinyl collector’s items. Members of the band later formed celebrated AOR act Nightwork (featured HERE).
Winterkat’s second album ”The Struggle” was released 1985. It wasn’t long before they were opening for Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force and Bill Sheehan’s Talas and international press and record orders were coming in.
Finally in 2019 ”The Struggle [remastered +4]” was reissued through 20th Century Music / Vanity Music Group, fully remastered and with the label adding bonus tracks to the recording, all rescued from guitarist Jonathan Grell’s library of tapes. A glimpse of what the band had in store for the future album that was not to be.

A musical anomaly amidst a sea of leather and spikes metal warriors, after releasing their debut / self-titled album, Winterkat would tour locally, recruiting three former members of local progsters Heyoka in vocalist Michael Steele Grothues, bassist Dean Vallecillo, and keyboardist/drummer Gerardo Ramirez, who had supported the likes of Rush, Van Halen, Budgie and Trapeze.
They plus drummer Steven Marcus went onto record ”The Struggle” in 1985, a private release.

The record took some surprising twists, including a unique ‘pompy’ take on Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’ as well as ‘Minuet III’, a short J.S. Bach piece adapted by Grell for guitar, while the rest is melodic pompy melodic rock with that american flavor. Tours wiyh Malmsteen followed, also Billy Sheehan’s Talas.
As we all know, the music business isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be and those that are the most deserving often miss that brass ring.

Winterkat were unable to capitalize on the momentum they had been building: Bassist Dean Vallecillo left the band and joined Minneapolis based Dare Force (performing on their “Firepower” album) and was replaced by Scott Womack (Juggernaut) and later Mike Mullins (Emerald).
Singer ‘Steele’ Grothues began going through some issues and, “sadly, we were not able to finish the third album”, said Grell.
“The band disintegrated just as we had recorded our best material. Very sad. I truly believe the third record would have landed us a bigger deal.”

Although Winterkat is no more, “we all keep in touch”, stated Grell who has lived in the Los Angeles, CA area for the past 25 years where he worked with the late, great Rhett Forrester, MSG’s Robin McAuley, and his own band, Mudpie, during the 1990s.
“I did fly back for Michael Grothues’ funeral in 2012. We played a tribute show for Michael with a Winterkat version comprised of both line-ups: Ric Swanson, Chris Watkins, Gerardo Ramirez and myself. Heyoka members also performed. We all attended Michael’s funeral that weekend. Rest in peace, Michael.”

It’s really nice to see this good band / album reissued as this is very good mid-’80s American pomp melodic rock with some Angel / Giuffria, Roadmaster on it.
Highly Recommended

You’ve seen it first at 0dayrox


01 – Scared Heart
02 – Someone’s Calling
03 – Ghost of Legal Crime (Bonus Track)
04 – Cold the Blade (Bonus Track)
05 – Last Time (Bonus Track)
06 – The Struggle
07 – Minuet III
08 – Light of Day
09 – Life of Changes (Bonus Track)
10 – Little Wing

Michael Grotheus (Heyoka) – vocals
Jonathan Grell (Liquid Sky, Suite 16) – guitar
Gerardo Ramirez (Heyoka, Wolfpak) – keyboards
Dean Vallecillo (Heyoka, Dare Force) – bass
Marcus Steven – drums



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