SHOK PARIS – Steel And Starlight [Bad Reputation remaster] (2022) HQ *Exclusive*
As requested, here’s the Bad Reputation remastered reissue of SHOK PARIS‘ second album ”Steel And Starlight”, the underrated killer US metal album from 1987 which now sounds better than never. ”Steel And Starlight” features eleven classic 80s melodic metal tracks, with an anthemic quality that easily gets the neck moving right from the start.
Vocalist Vic Hix has a very charismatic and melodic vocal style, oftentimes sounding like the long lost twin brother of of Blackie Lawless, at others, Ronnie James Dio. There is no doubt that Hix’s vocals are a defining quality of this band. His voice is full and powerful, and he is able to hit and sustain the higher notes when necessary.
As I said, the Dio comparison is very easy to hear, however musically SHOK PARIS has notable elements of W.A.S.P., Icon, Lizzy Borden, very early Pretty Maids, etc. Heavy but hard rockin’, punchy but melodic.
Formed in 1982, Shok Paris was the project of drummer Bill Sabo, and guitarists Ken Erb and Eric Marderwald. They had been in a number of hard rock bands but were dissatisfied with the music they were forced to pound out. They wanted to make their own music no frills heavy metal, set on a bedrock of infectious tunes. So, joined by bassist Kel Berkshire and a temporary vocalist, Shok Paris was born.
Within a matter of months Shok Paris was picked to appear on the Cleveland Metal sampler album and was receiving regular airplay on WMMS-FM in Cleveland. But the band was still searching for just the right voice to make their vision whole.
In late 1983, they found Vic Hix in the tiny Cleveland suburb of Cumberland. With his Dioesque pipes and talent for lyrics, the band’s line-up was set. Two months later Shok Paris released it’s debut album, ‘Go For The Throat’ on the independent Auburn label.
The record was greeted with raves from the hard rock press here and abroad. One track from the record, “Marseilles de Sade” was chosen for The Wild Bunch, an album compilation featuring the best of America’s up-and-coming metal bands.
‘Steel And Starlight’ followed in 1987, a 10-song (11 tracks on the CD) powerhouse collection of no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll and melodic metal. From the hard-driving, solo-filled “Go Down Fighting,’ to the ballad with wallop “Castle Walls” and the classically-tinged “Exhibit A, ” Steel And Starlight is a testament to the Shok Paris nature and name: powerful yet elegant.
The guitar sound employed on this album is very thick and rich. The riffs are full and forceful, very much at the forefront of the sound, reminding me of Screaming For Vengeance era Judas Priest. The guitar tandum of Ken Erb and Eric Marderwald lash out some excellent dual guitar harmonies and flamboyant dual solos throughout the album that blend together so naturally.
Once you hear this album, I think you’ll agree that some of the guitar harmonies and solos are just as addicting as the melodies. It’s pretty obvious to me that this pair had great chemistry in the studio, very much on the same page stylistically. For me this is an intangible quality of an album that separates excellent albums from masterpieces.
As any fan of 80s metal can attest, many albums of this era were a little bit too light on the bass. Fortunately, Shok Paris bassist Kel Berkshire was not ignored during the production phase of ‘Steel and Starlight’. Kel gives the driving riffs of Ken and Eric a steady backbone, providing a well rounded and hard edged sound for the album.
If anthemic, classic US metal / hard n’ heavy is your thing, ”Steel and Starlight” is an album that you should own. Shok Paris were able to combine the catchiness and melodic quality of the hard rock scene of the time with guitar driven heavy metal, resulting in an album that has stood the test of time, refusing to sound boring or mundane even today.
As far as songwriting and musical talent goes, I think everything just clicked for the band on this album. You can almost feel the energy emanating from your speakers with every drum hit, riff, and vocal line.
Highly Recommended (contributors get lossless today)
01 – Go Down Fighting
02 – Steel And Starlight
03 – Tokyo Rose
04 – Rocked Outta Love
05 – Castle Walls
06 – On Your Feet
07 – Fallin’ For You
08 – Exhibit A
09 – Lost Queen
10 – Hot On Your Heels
11 – Streets Of Pleasure
Vocals – Vic Hix
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Eric Marderwald
Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals – Ken Erb
Bass, Backing Vocals – Kel Berkshire
Drums, Backing Vocals – Jan Roll