Tracks 8-13: Pre Production Demo, Recorded April 16th 1984 at Octo Sound Studios, Kitchener Ontario Canada.
Restored and mastered by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony.
Razor formed in 1984 in Ontario, Canada. Over the decades they have become one of the most legendary North American Thrash Metal bands ever. The band's debut was the privately pressed »Armed And Dangerous« EP (Voice Records, 1984), followed by classic albums such as »Executioner's Song« (1985), »Evil Invaders« (1985), »Malicious Intent« (1986), »Custom Killing« (1987) and »Violent Restitution« (1988).
It's certainly a trademark of early Canadian metal bands that they always tried to forge their own sonic identity. Just think of Anvil, Exciter or Razor for that matter ... They don’t sound like your average American Thrash Metal band by any stretch of the imagination. Razor main man Dave Carlo agrees whole-heartedly: ”Well, I’m happy to hearing you say that! I do think Canadian bands have an unique sound. I’m not sure I can put my finger on what that it exactly is but I do think a Canadian band has to have a certain aspect of individuality. I do know what you’re saying when you mention that we don’t sound like your average American Thrash band. There are some American Thrash bands that do sound very similar to others. There is a sameness that comes from a lot of those bands. I’m not saying that there aren’t some great American bands because there are. But I think that the prominent Canadian Speed or Thrash Metal bands that we know of do have very unique and individual sounds. Bands like Anvil, bands like Exciter, bands like VoiVod ... Piledriver, Razor and of course Sacrifice, very good friends of ours from Toronto.”
So what were Razor’s influences in the early days then, Motörhead and Venom per chance? “My early influences were Motörhead, that’s for sure,” explains Dave Carlo. “But also Raven and Mark Gallagher’s guitar playing. He really is a hero of mine. I have to say that he is a genius on lead guitar and just a great riffer all around. I do admire him. I was also a big fan of Exciter in the early days. John Ricci on guitar. So I guess my early heroes on guitar were Mark Gallagher of Raven, John Ricci of Exciter and of course Fast Eddie of Motörhead.”
With the afore mentioned Exciter and Anvil, Canada was the birth place of Speed Metal. What was Razor's relationship to the two pioneers? Dave Carlo and original bassist Mike Campagnolo state: “We loved both bands in the early days! We often played openers to Anvil who we ended up as label mates with, and we did go see Exciter in Toronto in the early days and have just recently formed a pretty close bond with those guys out on the road playing quite a few shows with them the last few years.”
For Canada, »Armed And Dangerous« probably was the most extreme (metal) record ever released up until 1984. Would this be a fair thing to say? “Well, it was certainly leaning in a more Thrash oriented direction in comparison to other bands around at the time,” explain Dave Carlo and Mike Campagnolo. “There were other bands like Exciter and Anvil that were on the scene and they were gaining ground but we were lucky to be pushing the extreme bar up a notch in Canada at the time. We tried to play live as much as we could, but a lot of clubs and promoters didn't know what to do with us half the time. We were a little more extreme than they were used to and didn't fit well into the mainstream acts that were playing clubs at the time. Until we gained a bit of a following of our own and the scene grew a bit with bands like Sacrifice and Slaughter we were often the over the top band on many of the bills we played, and some people just didn’t get what we were doing because of the music.
The music scene in Canada at the time was really still developing and people were only exposed to a lot of mainstream crap that was being pushed by record companies and promoters, so it was very frustrating some of the time to try and get our message across.”
Was it the band's specific aim to go one step further than Anvil and Exciter, to up the ante? “We've never been one of those ego driven, competitive type bands and we just do what we do,” is what Dave Carlo and Mike Campagnolo say. “There is no excuse to treat any other band as if they were the competition as we don’t see other bands as competition. We hate that attitude, in fact we hate 'battle of the bands' type competitions and any event where one band is judged against another. It’s a hard enough struggle to make a name for yourselves without your own peers trying to shoot you down. We’ve never understood that mentality.”
1984's »Armed And Dangerous« was the first ever vinyl release Razor put out. “I still have about ten copies of that original vinyl myself,” beams Dave Carlo. “1,200 copies of »Armed And Dangerous« were pressed. We busted our butts and did everything ourselves by dropping off albums on consignment to stores and selling it at shows. A local Toronto music store which dealt in a lot of imports and metal music helped a lot in the early promotion of the band. Within the first three or four months after the release we had about 1,100 copies of it sold. It did become rare. Funnily enough, a couple of years later I found an autographed copy of »Armed And Dangerous« in a delete bin of a local record store. This must have been 1986 or 1987. So I naturally bought it and kept it myself. Anytime I came across some rare Razor stuff in a return record bin, I always bought it myself.”
“»Armed And Dangerous« was an early statement or direction of where metal music was heading at the time,” continue Dave Carlo and Mike Campagnolo, “or at least the direction we wanted to take. It blended the classic metal sound with a more Thrash/Speed quality. Considering the time and money constraints we had as a young band it turned out okay.”
»Armed And Dangerous« might not be the band's most accomplished album but it surely already has all the ingredients of the typical Razor sound, doesn't it? “It was definitely a good starting point,” state Dave Carlo and Mike Campagnolo. “It was meant to draw attention to Razor and give us some original material to promote at live shows and we still play a couple of tracks in our set today. 'Take This Torch' is definitely a popular song that actually predates Razor itself. It has become a sort of anthem song to many fans and has stood the test of time for sure. I’m glad »Armed And Dangerous« is not our best recording because if it was, our career wouldn’t have lasted very long. The record reflects where we were musically at the time, heavily influenced by bands like Motörhead and Raven, and that style was developed and influenced further once we started to work with bands like Slayer etc. ...”
Who got the idea for the iconic front cover artwork? Is it Dave Carlo holding his guitar on the front cover? “That would have been Dave’s concept or idea,” confirms Mike Campagnolo, “put together artistically with some help from producer Terry Marostega's brother, Dana GD Sky Marostega. He suggested the black and white reverse image. It was a Flying V Dave had and he used a razor blade as a pick. We thought it was heavy looking as an end result.”
The press reactions for the original release of »Armed And Dangerous« were really good back in the day: “People were dubbing us the heaviest thing out of Canada at the time. Kerrang! gave it a decent review and it led to an album deal, so we just set our sight to be heavier and faster next time around.”
As a bonus to the 35th anniversary edition of »Armed And Dangerous« the band's pre-production demo is also included, recorded on April 16th 1984 at Octo Sound Studios, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Mike Campagnolo explains: “In April 1984, two weeks before we entered the studio for »Armed And Dangerous«, our producer Terry Marostega decided it would be a good idea for us to spend a day in a demo studio as a pre-production, so we went to Octo Sound which was an eight track studio in Kitchener, Ontario. This was a good idea because we had only been working with Stace for about two weeks and it gave us a chance to get some practice in a studio environment, we only recorded six songs instead of the seven on »Armed And Dangerous« because we wrote 'The End' in the studio during the actual EP recording. So six songs that were part of the EP were recorded and it was done and mixed in one day and I think it sounds pretty good considering how rushed a project it was.”