Attila is another one of those 80s heavy metal bands that I truly know nothing about. Rolling Thunder was released in 1986 on Shattered Records as an import from the Netherlands. It’s not a bad album but it was definitely no chart-topper here in the States. The album definitely has thrashy bits to it but it’s probably more comparable to Purgatory (Cleveland) or even pre-Anselmo Pantera. Basically a very heavy Glam Metal band. A bit spooky and theatrical but definitely not heavy enough to scare your cooler older brother or even your parents.
The thing that initially jumped out at me was obviously the cover of this album. I mean, look at this thing. It’s an abomination. It looks like it was done in colored pencils. Maybe it was. That’s not really the point. In the era of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and the emerging Thrash movement you just have to have better artwork. This is 1986. The same year that Master of Puppets, Reign In Blood and Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying were released. If I saw this in the store next to one of those albums I know what I’d be slogging up to the counter with. That’s not to say this isn’t a good album musically, it just leaves a lot to be desired from a visual standpoint.
The cover artwork may not be the best executed but it has a lot going on, which is really what made me want to write about it in the first place. Attila bills themselves as the Thermonuclear Warriors and they definitely went all-in with the theme. A post-apocalyptic warrior is driving, Mad Max-style, through a deserted landscape with searchlights scouring the skies behind him. I assume the oddly positioned missile is there because he is stealing it from a base of some sorts. I don’t know. It’s placement really makes no sense to me.
The Attila logo is definitely neat but the letter spacing is a bit odd between the T and L. I suppose they wanted to showcase the center of the nuclear icon a bit more. It’s probably not a big deal to anyone except me. I look at it and immediately notice how there’s just a bit more spacing between the letters and it really irks me. Bonus points for adding some texture inside the letters and icon, though.
The back of the jacket is where this album truly shines. A simple 3-column grid sets the tone and really places all the focus on the AMAZING photographs of the band members. I’m definitely sensing a Mötley Crüe a la Shout At The Devil vibe here. Leather, chains, mirror and all the hairspray they could grab from the corner store made for a fantastic back cover. At the bottom of the jacket amongst the liner notes is a backstory that gives more insight into the band and their gimmick. I dig it. Anything to further the facade is welcomed by me. That shit really helps a young, impressionable kid buy into what you are selling. It’s an art form that is lost on most bands these days.
I’m not sure if this was purposeful or not but I really like how the red label matches up with the Attila logo. That would be one of those final touches that somebody was really proud of or it was a happy accident. Whatever the case, I’m glad it happened. It would have been cooler had they just put the red nuclear icon on Side One and then the whole tracklisting and liner notes on Side Two, but maybe that was out of the budget.
If you like that early–mid 80s metal that is heavy, cutting and thematic then I definitely suggest checking this band out. The more I listen to it the more I like it.
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