With their pointy guitars, scruffy hair, sleeveless denim, and penchant for dark 80s metal and cinema, Beijing’s Dressed to Kill tick all the boxes required to raise the eyebrows of the NWOTHM highbrows pounding the net for that rare, exciting take on a familiar style. It’s yet another validation that the metal scene in China continues to blossom despite the oppressive environment.
The vibrant Blade Runner-ish cover art is a good indication of what’s in store – a modern take on classic 80s metal. The crunching riffs and swooning leads of guitarists and Chen Wake and Yang Fuwen are tight and colorful with punchy production illuminating the speeding ear candy shred of “A Blade in the Night” as well as Hao Chenxi’s stout bass pulse against hooky AOR-ish jangles of the gloriously titled “Rock on the Way of Dream.” “Rose of Kowloon” may be the pick of the litter, mining prime riffs from planet leather pants reminiscent of modern heroes like Enforcer and Traveler. Guitar-wise, every song packs in remarkably lyrical solos, most with a highly developed beginning, middle, and end (like the way they used to do it in the golden era). Old Joe Lynn Turner would be thrilled.
You’ve got to hand it to vocalist Yang Ce, as he’s not afraid to swing for the fences in this most challenging of genres. Unfortunately, he’s a little flat on a few spots. It’s particularly noticeable in the opener, “Midnight Comes Around,” and the flash rockin’ gem “Breakin’ Thru the Sky.” Not a bad singer, but toning it down an octave here or there could smooth out the rougher edges. It’s not like there weren’t a boatload of bands with shit-hot guitarists and questionable vocalists in the 80s (a few groups on New Renaissance Records come to mind). As I said, Joe Lynn Turner would be appalled.
Much like their “A Night in Trance” demo, Dressed to Kill’s debut, Midnight Impulsion channels their considerable talents like glowing weapons in a secret forge. Ideally, this will be the first of many quality releases from a band with considerable chops and youth on their side.