Saturday, February 16, 2013

Murbas - Drivin' Wild (1984)

As somewhat of a hidden gem in the rock scene, Murbas, a heavy metal band assembled in the early eighties, never survived musical over saturation typical of any decade. Perhaps closest to the commercial side of Loudness, the five-piece proudly proclaimed themselves as lovers of "Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll," separating their music from "serious" metal and instead appealed to multiple crowds at once--both metalheads and conservative listeners too timid to make the transition from hard rock. Unfortunately, Murbas would not last long enough to reap rewards from their work and folded after 1985 with only three demos and one EP to their name. The group's third release, Drivin' Wild, is excellent, however, and gives a small glimpse of progress behind closed doors in the land of the rising sun years before j-pop dominated the industry.

No different than Ratt on steroids, Drivin' Wild demonstrated Japan's ability to compete with Los Angeles' blossoming rock movement in physical looks and musical quality. Like Thunder in the East, Murbas' dream forced them to scrap Japanese lyrics in favor of English, as they sought worldwide recognition and an opportunity to unveil a full-length brewing under wraps. But unlike Loudness, the group's demo was completely bereft of a decent production and felt too raw for mass consumption. Murbas would not push much farther past Drivin' Wild, as chances for a short term record deal grew slimmer due to geographical location and ease of access--a shame, really, because great music comes from all corners of the globe.

Fans of Mötley Crüe, Dokken, and early to mid-eighties Judas Priest will no doubt feel at home with Drivin' Wild, thanks to its simplistic song structures, screeching guitars, and melodic hooks. Under layers of crackling production is a band strikingly similar to anything remembered today, with "In My Sight" the best example of Warren Demartini-esque riffing and other guitar wizardry popular at the time. While these Japanese rock stars were not original in the slightest, their demo is certainly worth a look, especially for fans of eighties hard rock and metal. Success was just around the corner and, true in far too many cases, Murbas languished unknown until their music surfaced years later as a reminder of obscurity often forgotten.


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