Mastered and restored by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in July 2020.
After Canadian thrash metal legends Razor had released their self-financed debut EP »Armed And Dangerous« in 1984, they were surprised to get the attention of Attic Records, the country’s leading major record company at the time. The band soon inked a deal with the label and was destined to spearhead the company’s new Viper Records division.
»Escape The Fire« was originally planned to be the follow-up to »Armed And Dangerous« but in the end it did not work out like this. Attic put pressure on the young band and had their own ideas of shaping the future of Razor. The result was »Executioner’s Song«. Original bassist Mike Campagnolo tells the whole story: “Let’s face it, when any young band is given a shot at a record deal, it usually leans heavily in the label’s favour. Sure, we were inexperienced but they were also treading in unknown waters with the new Viper division, so there was a bit of lost advantage all around. I think we learned a bit from each other but hey, it’s usually the person with the cash making the final decisions. The main problem was that they were trying to cash in on anything we released instead of promoting a newer direction as the metal scene began to get harder and faster. They really didn’t grasp how the scene was changing and progressing and didn’t really get ahead of that wave. They had a pattern of how to deal with artists and stuck to that formula instead of seeing that this genre was here to stay and not just a fad. Attic showed that strategy with »Executioner’s Song« when they wanted some songs off of »Armed And Dangerous« and the »Escape The Fire« demo to create that release.”
The record company people insisted that the band re-recorded “Take This Torch”, “Fast And Loud”, “The End” and “Hot Metal” off »Armed And Dangerous« and put it on the first Viper Records album (which turned out to be »Executioner’s Song«). “Sort of yes!,” confirms Mike Campagnolo. “They were really eager to include these songs on the first full-length album. They thought they were strong tracks for sure but the consensus was made and we agreed to the decision. I guess because »Armed And Dangerous« was such a limited release, they were hoping that these songs would reach a wider audience throughout the world, which I guess sort of worked out. ‘Take This Torch’ and ‘Hot Metal’ are songs we still include in our set today, so I guess they did achieve a sort of lasting power over time.
We never really got an »Escape The Fire« concept artwork design in play and the artwork and »Executioner’s Song« concept and cover design were done by the Attic guys. I think we were just happy to have a recording deal and get the material out in some form, so dropped the »Escape The Fire« concept altogether.”
All in all, there were four songs left from the »Escape The Fire« session, which did not make it onto »Executioner’s Song«: “Metal Avenger”, ”Heavy Metal Attack”, “Frost Bite” and “Ready For Action”. »Escape The Fire« was originally recorded on December 1st 1984 at Future Sound studios in Toronto and was produced by Terry Morostega (who had worked on »Armed And Dangerous«) along with Dave Carlo. Mike Campagnolo explains in more detail: “Well, we used to play all those songs in our live set and we were eventually planning to release them but by the time we did some tour support for »Executioner’s Song«, Attic was really pushing us to keep the momentum moving with a new release. They wanted to include those leftovers but Dave had began writing »Evil Invaders« and the direction of the music was swinging in a more thrash and speed direction and we persuaded them to wait and release all new material, which was what we really wanted to do. ‘Metal Avenger’ was a straight forward metal song with the extended guitar soloing à la Nugent or Lips from Anvil and was really long. ‘Heavy Metal Attack’ was a classic Razor riff, very fast and ripping, I always liked that one. It was a straight ahead ripper! We used to play it live even faster than the recorded version. Not a deep thinker but more of a headbanger. ‘Frostbite’ was also a classic Razor riff and always went over well in the live set and ‘Ready For Action’ was more a fast and heavy rock/metal anthemic type song.”
Said “Metal Avenger” was actually over 7 minutes long, so a pretty long track for the early days of Razor: “Yeah, like I mentioned earlier, it was really a showcase for Dave’s guitar playing and there was a duet with him and Embro in the middle, with just guitar and drums. It was a sort of solo spot for Dave in the live show, where it sort of developed over time. We tried to relay that feel on the recorded version.”
As Mike Campagnolo explains, after »Armed And Dangerous« Razor were “firing on all cylinders”: “We were trying to hone our live show, so we were playing a lot of those songs at shows already. You can hear the lean towards a faster thrash direction with songs like ‘Escape The Fire’, ‘Gatecrasher’, ‘City Of Damnation’ or ‘March Of Death’. A song like ‘Distant Thunder’ was our attempt at a mainstream metal song and others like ‘Death Race’ and ‘Time Bomb’ were still reminiscent of the »Armed And Dangerous« sound. It would have been interesting to see how »Escape The Fire«, if released in its original form, would have been received by metal fans. It would’ve probably pushed some of the »Executioner’s Song« material onto »Evil Invaders« and who knows if it would have altered the progression of the band in any way?
Anyway, that history has been written and I hope people listen to this release and take it for what it is: “a small piece of history”, a sliver of time in Razors over 35 year career!”