USPM from Canada
Deaf Dealer – a band who is always in a perpetual state of changing their band name between Deaf Dealer and Death Dealer – are cruel victims of fate (and asshole labels). Deaf Dealer’s second full length album, Journey Into Fear, is the epitome of my “lost in time” segment. It was originally recorded and set to be released just a year after their debut in 1987, but their label at the time decided it was unlikely to be profitable and flat out refused to release the album. While the album didn’t make it out officially, a small number tapes were circulated in the metal underground and it continued to be spread online with the advent of the internet.
The unfortunate status of the band and album combined with its obvious quality led some people to call it “the greatest unreleased metal album”. A few years ago in 2014, twenty-seven full years after the initial recording of the Journey Into Fear, it got the proper release it deserved thanks to the heroes over at Cult Metal Classics Records. The dedication of CMC to re-issuing old school heavy metal and US style power is admirable. Between them and Eat Metal Records, the Greeks are making sure we have reasonable access to hidden classics such as Deaf Dealer’s Journey into Fear.
Deaf Dealer are among a number of Canadian bands that were readily adopting the United States style of power metal. The sound on their debut and Journey into Fear, like much of the original USPM movement, is deeply rooted in the NWOBHM. There’s clear comparisons to be made with the legendary Iron Maiden and even UK contemporaries such as Cloven Hoof. With a base in Iron Maiden style riffs/melodies and a USPM-based approach, the closest comparison to Deaf Dealer’s sound is power metal stalwart Shok Paris.
As one would expect from a band so heavily influenced by Iron Maiden, the highlight of the album is the twin guitar melodies that guitarists Marc Brassard and Yves Pednault so graciously deliver us. The album is littered with strong melodies that are bound to be stuck in your head well into the next day. There is a healthy variety in the guitar riffs as they move between melodic mid-tempo to faster paced bangers. There’s a few tracks, such as “Journey Into Fear” and “Blood and Sand” where Middle-Eastern inspired sounds take center stage helping add that extra bit of flavor to this already packed album.
Michel Lalonde’s soaring vocals are an excellent compliment to the compelling guitars found on this album. His range is a bit limited compared to other USPM contemporaries – you won’t find the high falsettos you’re used to here – but his mid-range vocals work well over the riffs found on Journey Into Fear. Lalonde guides us into an abundance of sing-along choruses, a notable amount more than other US power bands at the time, that are just as catchy as the guitar melodies.
The album’s weakest point lies in the production. It’s thin and doesn’t provide the room to breathe that this album needed. It’s not too bad, but it certainly sounds more dated than some of the other bands at the time. There isn’t a single bad track on this album, but nothing quite reaches the height of the album’s self-titled closer. It makes you wonder what an entire album with tracks like that would sound like. “Journey into Fear” is a six minute, Middle-Eastern tinged mid-paced epic that is truly unforgettable. I could not think of a better way to close out an album.
Deaf Dealer did not achieve the support they deserved. It’s impossible to say where Deaf Dealer could have ended up if they had the appropriate label support. It’s very easy to play a game of what-ifs and maybes, but ultimately we must deal with reality. What I can say is that Journey Into Fear is a feat of power metal that can sit comfortably with the rest of our USPM heroes.
Album Rating: 93/100
Favorite Track: Journey Into Fear
This is dedicated to my friend Rayner, who loves this album more than any person I know or am likely to meet.