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Forty-Five Years Later: Budgie – In For The Kill

England may have been the biggest breeding ground for the earliest acts of heavy metal in the 1970s, but who would have guessed that Wales would bring something to the table that early? Probably nobody, because Budgie never really made a huge impression on the scene. However, once Metallica covered them, they would gain more fans. This would be long after most of their releases had been out, but focusing on when In For The Kill dropped, it was more of a niche band. Really, it still kinda is, as they make such a unique brand of heavy metal, which hit the scene exactly forty-five years ago this month.

The best way to put it? Psychedelic metal. While The Bee Gees ruled psychedelic pop and bands like Cream and Hendrix wielded psychedelic rock, Budgie would bring these tactics into the heavier riff realm. A three-piece with Burke Shelley on vocals and bass, Tony Bourge on guitar, and Pete Boot behind the kit, they’d almost serve as the shadowed counterpart to Rush. With their biggest effort (at the time) Never Turn Your Back On A Friend behind them, interest in the band did rise up a bit by the time In For The Kill dropped. Van Halen would actually cover the title track in their earlier days, so by the end of the decade, it did have some sort of impact on American soil.

“In For The Kill” is definitely one of the easier tracks to dig, as the rhythm patterns have a lot more kick to them. In fact, this record would show the most descent into heavier territory, as most of what the band put out previous to this was lighter on the ear. “Crash Course In Brain Surgery” yields a darker and punchier riff layout, and it’s played in minor keys for the bulk of the duration.

On the other hand, this may not be the recommended album to start with, because most of it doesn’t follow suit to the opening two tracks. Long songs that run anywhere from seven to ten minutes make up for half of the offerings on this disc. “Zoom Club” is a favorite of mine, due to the large amount of layers to get behind, and the weird vocal style blends into this perfectly. It wouldn’t fare well with those unfamiliar with proggier numbers, however, and the instrumental breaks, as well as the intro, do go on for a while.

Actually, the vocals are probably the hardest thing to get behind, and likely why the band didn’t break the mainstream surface. If Geddy Lee sounds weird to you, then boy you’ve got another thing coming! Factor in a nasally pinch in the vocals, which float above the music rather boasting a lot of oomph, and you’ll get Burke Shelley. Something to counter this is the incredible bass work that comes through. It sounds like it was thrown too high into the mix, but if that was accidental, I’m glad it happened. The bluesy licks backing the mesmerizing solo on “Running From My Soul” is one of the strongest moments to be found here. Hell, even the vocals in this have a much stronger kick, and it’s not overly long. For those new to the band, give this ditty a spin.

I’m aware that some of my descriptions may sound a bit negative, but rest assured that everything crafted here is incredible; it’s just super inaccessible and I can understand why Budgie never took off to the same height as some of their peers. Awkward doesn’t mean bad if it invokes the feelings that were meant to be hooked, and I believe that In For The Kill did exactly that. If you’re new to the band, maybe try Metallica’s covers first, and then visit this with an open mind, however, I think an easier start would be the follow up to this, Bandolier.

In For The Kill was released in May of 1974 through MCA records. Thanks to a slight resurgence in followers, it isn’t horribly difficult to come by, and there are vinyl, cassette, and CD releases. All can be found at Discogs.

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