Vyper- Prepared to Strike (1984)

Vyper was an American glam metal band fromKansas City, Missouri that released their only full-length record in 1984, Prepared to Strike.  Never achieving anywhere near the same level of fame as their L.A. contemporaries like Ratt and Motley Crue, Vyper did share something with the two aforementioned bands.  They were much heavier and more metallic-sounding compared to a majority of the 1980s glam metal movement.  Actually, Vyper often approaches the heaviness territory of W.A.S.P.and Lizzy Borden, the sorts of glam outfits that were essentially equally intense to most of the straight-up heavy metal at the time.

The album has a crisp, crunchy production with highly melodic vocals that soar over the guitar riffs.  Singer Christy Black is atypical for a glam metal singer, avoiding the squeaky and raspy high-pitched vocals that were the signature of groups like Cinderella.  He has wide vocal range, with a smoothness to his voice closer to something like Rob Halford from Judas Priest.

Speaking of Judas Priest, the song “Dealer” sounds highly influenced by the faster tracks on albums such as Defenders of the Faith, with highly proud and epic, soaring heavy metal feel.  It sounds hardly glam at all, but the glam is more evident in power ballads such as “Nighttime is Wild,” which relies on a dark but magical atmosphere combined with a glam-esque naïveté.  A lot of the tracks have a tinge of AOR influence, such as “Cold as Stone,” but a majority of the songs like “I’m Not Waiting” and “She’s Nasty” have the more typical glam metal vibe.

The biggest problem with this album is that there are too many mediocre tracks with awkward choruses, or that just aren’t particularly catchy or emotive.  “Can’t Stop Dreaming” is pretty boring for example, and Black tends to be inconsistent with the amount of passion he puts into his performance, ranging from highly convincing to simply going through the motions.

This album deserves three stars for being an enjoyable listen with a few incredible songs.  However, it is not a consistently great listen from start to finish, although it never falls below the line of mediocre.  First Strike is highly recommended to fans of heavier glam metal as well as traditional heavy metal.

-John Mahon III

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