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Contrary to popular belief, 1988 was a great year for rock and metal. Releases included …..And Justice For All (Metallica), Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (Iron Maiden) Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt II (Helloween) and Kings of Metal (Manowar) to name but a few, not to mention New Jersey (Bon Jovi).
With all these big hitters on show, it’s not too difficult to see how Hittman and their self-titled debut slipped through the net at that time. Having said that, being signed to a German label (Steamhammer) also did not help as this label could not get a foothold in the States hence the album was only available via import.
Hailing from Long Island, New York, Hittman were, at the time, compared to Queensryche but whilst I can see the comparison I find the band a little lighter and not taking themselves as seriously. In fact, the band took inspiration from Queensryche for their demo, Metal Sport. Apparently ‘metal sport’ is how the band described their brand of metal. Don’t ask me, I haven’t a clue…..
Which brings me to the album itself. Hittman, this time out on No Remorse Records, will definitely be one for the metal historians and connoisseurs as this remastered re-release also contains the Metal Sport demo, from which only the title track made it onto the original album.
If Hittman was buried in a time capsule and dug up in 100 years, the archaeologists would play it and say “Ah, yes, definitely dates back to 1988” as the album has all the hallmarks of the period. Powerful, slightly high-pitched vocals (a la Geoff Tate, unsurprisingly) courtesy of Dirk Kennedy lead the way, with the twin leads of Jim Bacchi and John Kristen following hot on his heels.
There are fist-pumping rockers aplenty, such as the aforementioned “Metal Sport” and “Backstreet Rebels” a typical rock ballad full of angst in Will You Be There” and even a cheeky cover, with “Secret Agent Man” which is a great version of the Johnny Rivers original.
Shouty gang choruses were a requirement back then and yes, they’re here too.
The highlight for me, though, comes with the Metal Sport EP bonus tracks. How only one managed to get onto the original is beyond me. All the tracks match, and often better, their album rivals. Who makes these decisions? From the instrumental “Hittman Theme” to the epic “Winds of Warning” each track is a treat.
This album is definitely of its time but that does not make it any less enjoyable, so yeah, I suggest you give it a whirl.