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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Kill 'Em All

Now enjoying a renaissance and deserved place in the history books, mainly thanks to the tributes paid by Metallica, Budgie are a Welsh hard rock power trio that until the 1980s sounded like a cross between Cream, the Groundhogs and Black Sabbath - and the high-register vocals of Burke Shelley must surely have joined Robert Plant as an influence on the young Geddy Lee.

This is also the only Budgie album to feature drummer Pete Boot, who was given the, um, boot shortly afterwards in favour of long-term replacement Steve Williams.

Like so many hard rock / heavy metal groups of the classic 1970s era, Budgie wrote in various shades of their chosen blues-based genre, and did not stray out of those confines, proclaiming in no uncertain terms that the music they played was not Progressive Rock.

However, we take no notice of what the artists themselves say or think as we listen to the music - we simply enjoy the slabs of riff that epitomise the phrase heavy rock, and Budgie's own production rivals that of original producer Rodger Bain (who also produced Black Sabbath and Judas Priests' earliest outings) in setting the bass well below and in stark contrast to the guitar, rather than blending it in as is modern practice.

In Budgie's music, the process of separating the voices out in production leads to a rather miraculous union in the overall power trio sound, and In For The Kill is an excellent example of this - although you could dip in at random in Budgie's back catalogue and pull out a good album. Tony Bourge, particularly, pulls out consistently excellent performances of blues guitar licks with a metal edge: Similar in many ways to, although lacking the technical finesse of Michael Schenker, his style is a halfway house between Alvin Lee and Tony McPhee - fast and accurate, but dangerous and gritty where necessary.

I'm not particularly keen on the opening title track, as it's much too close to the Groundhogs/Sabbath root of the band, and has little of interest, but thanks to Metallica, I do enjoy the uptempo version of Crash Course in Brain Surgery that follows (CCIBS was Budgie's first single, although until now, it was never on an album), Shelley's bass growling deeper than ever before - and going out of time in the trickier moments...

Then, by way of complete contrast is the Sabbath / Sam Gopal-esque Wondering What Everyone Knows, the acoustic guitar and bongo backing lending the same sinister air that is prevalent in Sam Gopal's debut. Sometimes, when Shelley sings in his lower register, he starts to sound like a less monotonous Jon Anderson, or even John Lennon in places.

Zoom Club is based on a kind of heavy Kraut style jam, only a bit more interesting structure-wise, as it introduces the pedal-point shifting chord technique that Judas Priest were to come around to a couple of years further down the line. This song even sounds like a kind of Proto-Priest track in places, although anyone who's ever jammed in a garage situation will recognise the kind of riffs that are repetitively trotted out - especially the Hey Joe riff towards the end.

Hammer and Tongs has an interesting minute and a half introduction that leads to a Black Sabbath paced riff with Led Zeppelin style interjections and Jimmy Page styled soloing, faster than you can say Dazed and Confused. Running from My Soul is a kind of Groundhogs meet Ten Years After number - with all the skills that such a fusion requires, and some Wishbone Ash flavoured guitar overdubs.

Finally, Living On Your Own is a lengthy composition loaded with the unique Budgie sound, as well as flavours from all over the place - a Stevie Wonder influence on Shelleys vocals is almost tangible in places, but this is the most unique, least obviously influenced and as a consequence, most proggy track on the album - pretty much worth the purchase price on its own.

If nothing else, by laying down such a high calibre hard rock/metal output in the 1970s, Budgie put Metallica into sharp relief as the band that really did progress just about everything in Metal - Budgie themselves are only really related to Prog as one of many bands that influenced Metallica. They don't even sound Prog, as In For The Kill evidences.

In summary, then, a consistently good guitar-driven hard rock album that doesn't set out to break any rules or moulds, but nevertheless manages to stamp out its own patch of turf in loud style. A good addition to any rock collection - but Never Turn Your Back on a Friend is probably a better starting point with this band - not least because it contains Breadfan, another song made famous by Metallica's inspired interpretation.

I'd also highly recommend Nightflight as the perfect illustration of how Budgie responded to the NWoBHM with the excellent Turned To Stone, and Keeping a Rendezvous. Neither of which are Prog, of course, but they're great headbangers!

Report this review (#197761)
Posted Thursday, January 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars In For The Kill is an essential piece in the early metal history.

Budgie is a somehow forgotten metal legend. It can be compared with Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin with it's bluesrock sound and metal riffs. The vocals of Burke Shelly are effective for both the metal riffs as the rock ballads. The guitars don't sound raw like the later-on metal bands. What I like about budgie is the good feeling of the rhythms; sometimes it almost swings! Is it progressive music? No, it's is not, but they show lots of progression within the development of the bluesrock and hardrock combination like black sabbath and led zepplin, which are also added on progarchives. Budgie uses lots of rhythm changes and are (in my opinion) much more creative than other early metal bands.

In for the kill starts off with two comparable songs; In for the Kill and crash course for brain surgery. They have a good rhytms and are a nice beginning of this record. Crash course for brain surgery is later covered by Metallica, but I hardly recommend the Budgie version of it, because of the cleaner sound recording.

Wondering what everyone knows is the third track and the first rock ballad; very good for the variatian. Zoom club is a long track and shows all of the good aspects of the band; nice riffs and rhythm changes and a good building up. After this song come two bluesrock songs which are the only negative point in this record. They sound good, but seem to me as a lack of in inspiration, because of the use of just the blues scheme. The endtrack however is good as the first half of this record.

In For The Kill is worth four stars as a good Budgie record. If this is your first meating with budgie, I recommend the record Bandoliers, which is even better!

Report this review (#199168)
Posted Thursday, January 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Budgie have a special place in the heart for many fans of heavy rock in the seventies but they never really reached the heights of many of their contemporaries at the time. Like Led Zeppelin, Budgie knew the importance of having light and shade in their music; lighter, sometimes acoustic moments to complement the bombast on heavier riffs making the music much more dynamic. While their music did contain quite a few twists and turns at times, in the main the heavier moments were built around solid repetitive riffs.

In For The Kill was the fourth album from the band and whilst not being their best it does contain some fine moments. None more so than the opening and title track itself which has a heavy and insistent unison bass and guitar riff so favoured by myriads of metal bands to come. The track rocks along with a steady groove with Burke Shelley's high pitched vocals over the top, changing tack to a slower pace for a mid section including a fine bluesy Tony Bourge guitar solo.

Crash Course in Brain Surgery in no doubt well known to most Metallica fans, being covered by them on their $5.98 EP back in the eighties. In truth it's a fairly dispensable and mundane heavy rocker with little to get excited about. Wondering What Everyone Knows is the band in acoustic mode, pleasant enough but fairly average nevertheless.

Much better is Zoom Club, at almost 10 minutes a bit of a mini epic. It has a great riff and generally features some fine guitar work from the underrated Bourge where he's really let off the leash and includes a strong and lengthy solo.

While nothing on side 2 of the original vinyl album can match up to In For The Kill and Zoom Club it's still pretty good. Hammer and Tongs is built around a bluesy Black Sabbath style riff. Running From My Soul is a short and simple boogie based song. Living On Your Own is another longer track and a fine album closer. Heavy riffs alongside gently picked guitars, Shelley turns in a fine vocal performance and Bourge is given free reign to solo at will including some slide guitar.

So all in all, a good competent slice of seventies heavy rock. If you're new to the band though I'd recommend starting with their classic Never Turn Your Back On A Friend album.

Report this review (#201197)
Posted Saturday, January 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After 2 good and one excellent album, Budgie lost something. I call it their drive and urge, their primal scream. Especially the vocalist Burke Shelley doesn't sound as piercing as he used to. Overall the band sounds a bit weary and doesn't manage to progress their sound much beyond the previous achievements.

The quality of the songs is still good though, In For The Kill and Crash Course are short and solid metal classics. Wondering is the mandatory mellow song, but it's clearly a step down from their earlier exploits in that area. Zoom Club is a 10 minute droning workout, a jam on a simple blues riff that is too catchy to resist. Both the vocals and lead guitars have a spontaneous and improvised touch, nice one.

The best part of the album is behind us. Hammer and Tongs returns to the Black Zeppelin stylings of their debut and isn't really remarkable. Another indication of their dwindling inspiration is the inclusion of album filling style-exercises like Running From My Soul, a hard-rock boogie that can't add much to its obvious reference point, Lazy from Deep Purple. Living On Your Own is more deserving. It doesn't have really memorable melodies but at least it's adventurous and a pleasant listen overall.

In for The Kill is a decent hard rock band from a band that was past its peak. But it still has enough good material to push it to 3 stars.

Report this review (#262049)
Posted Saturday, January 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars While this album may be considered a let down after their all-time greatest, the album is still a masterpiece of proto-metal and proto-progressive metal. When listening to some of the tracks, one cannot help but think of pure heavy metal and increasingly disturbing lyrics and song names. A turely unique killing spree.

1.In for the Kill - The title track of a turely astounding album is nothing short of a classic. The instrumentation from bassist and vocalist Burke Shelley is excellent, as he rolls out beautiuly heavy basslines and heavy vocal lines to kill, guitarist Tony Bourge, who puts excellent riffing with each other, and Pete Boot, who keeps the rhythm steady and interesting. The slight changes from heavy sludge is acid phaser is excellent, as the trio keeps the prime meat roasting, more or so, exploding. A song of the century. (10/10)

2.Crash Course in Brain Surgurey - Even after the heaviness of the first track, there is still more metal in this shorter, albiet more concise, sludge metal track. The banshee wail of Shelley is perfect for the nonsense lyrics throughout the song. Bourge's guitar riff is perfect for this energetic song, showing is extreme talent in this newer genre (at the time). Turely a masterpiece in all respect. (10/10)

3.Wondering What Everybody Knows - After the heaviness that was in the first two tracks, it is kind of needed for a breather. The song isn't great though, as it's too Beatle-esque to be a turely unique song. The uneeded extra instruments and vocal harmonies are actually working to the advantage, as to cover up the bore the band was going through in the studio. (7/10)

4.Zoom Club - An extremely catchy and irresistable track, this one is the longest and simplest of the bunch. Bourge seems to stick to one true and bluesy riff that works for the whole song, as the rest of band seems to get with it quick, and the pull out one of the best jams in their history. Heavy phaser on Bourges guitar is definatly needed for this long trip, and steady beats and bottom end blasts of Shelley and Boot are definatly needed for this slightly dark and heavy track. (10/10)

5.Hammer and Tongs - Another top cut from the album, though seemingly insignificant after the previous track. The song is very pyschedelic, in nature, as the slow and moving guitar that creeps upon is always present in the intro. The slow and blues rooted sections of the song are definatly Zeppelinized to say the least, but always have a Budgie taste on things because of their use of heavy bass guitars and bottom - ended guitar playing. Vocals from Shelley are awesome, but the lyrics are what to expect from Zeppelin as well. All in all, some essential listening is here, even if some energy and original inspiration is lost. (8.5/10)

6.Running From my Soul - This track brings me back to previous albums; in a great way. The old blues and steady beat is much more interesting than the previous track, yet it ends way to soon. The bass playing from Shelley is some of his best, and along with Boot and Bourge, make for the most interesting of listens. Bourge adds some of his best guitar solos and riffs, even rivaling that of Black Sabbath mastermind Tony Iomi. Another interesting blues segment, a bit more interesting than the previous track though. (9/10)

7.Living on Your Own - As the usual Budgie fashion, the band releases a proggish epic that is a workout in intensity and though; this is no different. The guitar riffing is only rivaled by Shelley's amazing bass playing, which is especially thick and hard-hitting on this song. The contrasts in the song are perfection, as the electric of the verses are augmented by soothing and very beautiful chorus's that only make the song better. A classic song from the Budgie catalog. (10/10)

The album has been critized for being too unorginal, from some of the other reviews I have found on various sites, and I totally disagree. Budige's tracks are totally new and fresh to the ears, even ahead of their time. The world was just too behind to notice who amazing they were back in the day. A 5 stars for this awesome effort. Unfortunatly, this is the last album that would be ranked so highly, as the band would go through more changes and more disagreements.

Report this review (#355199)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Budgie's fourth album, whilst not quite so groundbreaking as their debut or Never Turn Your Back On A Friend, sees the band continuing to be at the forefront of the early heavy metal scene. The power trio seem more confident than in previous outings, which makes the diverse range of styles they play an engaging listen. Running From My Soul, for example, is a heavy take on fairly traditional rock and roll, whilst thunderous album closer Living On Your Own is a slower, doomier, Sabbath-inspired number.

The album also includes an updated version of Crash Course in Brain Surgery, a track the group had previously released as a single - a pounding piece of proto-speed metal which particularly showcases the skills of Burke Shelley, the group's bassist and vocalist. Shelley's bass style for this album is harder and heavier than ever, at points reaching hypnotic intensities comparable to the sort of performances Lemmy was dishing out in Hawkwind at the time.

At the same time, the album doesn't quite hang together as well as Never Turn Your Back On a Friend. It was churned out rapidly in the space between two intense tours, and whilst the process of touring had clearly made Budgie a tighter unit, they also feel a little bit more conventional - like they're beginnign to compromise here and there to conform to the expectations of a 1970s hard rock audience rather than producing any novelties to match their earlier work. Budgie's career to this point had provided ample proof that Budgie do not deserve the comparative obscurity they've faded away into, but ought to join Sabbath and Judas Priest in the early metal pantheon. In For the Kill isn't a classic that will convince doubters by itself, but it is further evidence in support of that position.

Report this review (#527383)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars We all have an album that we picked up for pennies off a market stall that sets us off on a journey and a devotion to something deeply unfashionable, even with the then long haired alternative music scene.....Ladeezz and genllmen I give you Wales finest power trio Budgie and their 4th album, 1974's In For The Kill! It was my first introduction and yes I eventually owned the lot...and it may not be their best...but it will always mean something to me. A line up change had introduced a new drummer who to me was more powerful if a tad less busy than Ray Phillips who was replaced. Maybe this was why we got perhaps the heaviest Budgie album ...yes IMHO...and it is none the worse for that. We can argue how 'prog' a classic power trio can be (Rush sort of step outside the box on that one) but to me this was filed under heavy as hell prog and still should be. The opening title track is a rumbling riff mirrored by guitar and bass and it chugs along at a fair lick...with a vocal/guitar twin line that underpins the verse. It also allows one of my favourite guitarists, Tony Bourge to show his prowess both as lead and riff player. Apparently Van Halen used to do a version of this before they 'broke through' but don't let that put you off! Next came the inclusion of an earlier single, 'Crash Course In Brain Surgery' (gotta love the title!) which was done and dusted in just over 2 and a half mins (Metallica covered it on their Garage Days Revisited EP). Then the acoustic interlude of 'Wondering What Everyone Knows' which is the breather we all needed before the epic 'Zoom Club'...a slinky riff built up by band dynamics to a crescendo then maintained on the intensity meter...with variations and diversions for 10 marvellous minutes...Bourge using a riff/rhythm/lead technique to cover all bases. If they ever ask me on Desert Island Discs....this track will be played. Side 2 barges in with 'Hammer and Tongs'...a Zeppelinesque blues riff of light and shade and heart wrenching intent...that fills out the start and middle before a more ethereal bridge takes us in to an unexpected straight 12 bar....which solos off in to the faders....It is one of those tracks that is all but cliché yet rises above that with its sheer chutzpah! It sort of keys you in to 'Running From My Soul' which has a swaggering blues based template with the bass (take a bow Burke Shelley) used as a Lemmy style rhythm machine...well before Motorhead! Finally the most complex track 'Living On Your Own'. This one has a measure of Man (fellow Welsh prog heads) thrown in to the mix although they were never this heavy...and it has several contrasting passages that again are built on a great band dynamic in to a satisfying whole to end the album! It even made #29 in the UK LP charts and as was the case back in the day, was a rushed affair between never ending tours, hence its length (short) and rough edges (charm). We can all argue over labels but why this band aren't under the 'Heavy Prog' sub header is beyond my comprehension!
Report this review (#1511276)
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2016 | Review Permalink

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