HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

The Filth Hounds Of Hades: Dogs Of War 1981 - 2002 (Metal Mind)

Manna from the battlefield or all fans of the beleaguered Algy Ward and his army of freedom fighters. Forsooth, what you get here is an eight CD plus DVD box set from Poland's Metal Mind imprint, limited to 1000 copies and also numbered. Each disc is in a digipak, with the spines lining up to form the iconic Tank logo. What a tidy way to get everything the band has ever done, including 29 bonus tracks, even if most are just variants. First up is the raging Filth Hounds Of Hades debut, which saw the band thumbs-up the integrity of punk (Algy had been in The Damned) on songs that were actually catchier and smarter than Motorhead fare of the day - it's also cool for North Americans that the cover art is the European one with different logo and colours. Next up is the band's best album, Power Of The Hunter from 1982, with the classic 'Walking Barefoot Over Glass' opening this riffy and eminently memorable affair. The shot of Algy (?) running on the back cover captures the magic of the punter metal scene poetically - I always thought that was an indication of class that made me parallel the band as a feisty version of Thin Lizzy. Cagily covering The Osmonds' 'Crazy Horses' Motorhead-cased helped place the band a cut above as well. Tank then took their war image straight to task with an epic album arguably as accomplished as its predecessor, This Means War containing bullet-belted anthems that nonetheless charmed. These were soldiers you wanted to drink beer with, and then later that night... '(If We Go) We Go Down Fighting' reminiscing o'er 'Echoes Of A Distant Battle'. By this point in the box, bonus tracks are starting to wane, but no one cares, as all the cool rarities from the early days have been caught in the net, head pounding, punk proud. Honour & Blood and Tank hail from the band's waning years, although I remember the former coming off as a serviceable This Means War Part II at the time. The band stormed back with Still At War which found Algy's vocals in goodly wise-crackin' biker rock form. And the rest of the box? Well, it's a gaggle of (often dodgy) mostly live and demo material from various heydays, holler-along anthems delivered with various fidelities and shakiness of voice, but always getting' across due to their strength of song - 'Blood, Guts And Beer', 'Run Like Hell', and especially 'T.W.D.A.M.O.' and 'Don't Walk Away' clanging away like tomorrow doesn't matter. The DVD is definitely of boot quality, but man, just to see the band in its young prime is a blast. O'er to the booklet, and it's appropriately a big one, comprising 60 pages that include all the lyrics, a bunch of pictures and a liner essay, documenting this most likeable bunch of hard-edged NWOBHM stalwarts. OK, so I gave this a 10... well, the whole damn shooting match is here. I mean, this is exactly what I like in a box set. Exactly.
Rating 10

Hard Reviews Page 5