CITIES: Annihilation Absolute LP Metal Blade. on drums A.J. Pero (Twisted Sister). A la Metal Church, Savatage, Armored Saint
Cities Annihilation Absolute
Label: Metal Blade Records 72176-1
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Genre: Heavy Metal
A1 Stop The Race
A2 Fight For Your Life
A3 Burn Forever
A4 Not Alone In The Dark
A5 Cruel Sea
B1 In The Still Of The Night
B2 Innocent Victim
B3 Shades Of Black
1. Stop the Race 04:02
2. Fight for Your Life 03:29
3. Burn Forever 03:45
4. Not Alone in the Dark 03:35
5. Cruel Sea 06:03
6. In the Still of the Night 04:50
7. Innocent Victim 04:46
8. Shades of Black 03:41
Sal Mayn Bass [Anvil]
A.J. Pero Drums [Twisted Sister]
Steve Mironovich Guitars
Ron Angel Vocals
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 1986
Genre: Heavy Metal
As a side band for Twisted Sister‘s drummer A.J. Pero, Cities spent the 80s toiling in extreme obscurity, with only a small, but loyal fanclub in and around the New York area. With numerous line-up changes and breakups, they only managed one album; the excellent Annihilation Absolute and then promptly sank into nothingness. Their lack of success stands in stark contrast to the quality of that sole recording, which is a ripping, muscular rocker of the traditional metal kind, similar to early Armored Saint, Jag Panzer, Fistful of Metal era Anthrax and Burning Star era Helstar with traces of NWoBHM acts like early Iron Maiden and Satan. The songs are simple, catchy and heavy enough to satisfy, with some bordering on thrash, yet it was criminally overlooked at the time of release, despite being on Metal Blade and having a tune included on their Best of Metal Blade compilation series. This one is the real goddamn deal and a testament to how old school metal should sound.
Annihilation Absloute is full of straight-ahead metal without frill or fluff. Lead track “Stop the Race” sets the tone with gritty, hard-nosed riffing and vocalist Ron Angell’s edgy, commanding voice and when he cuts loose with those great screams during the chorus, it sticks in the brain forevermore. It’s such a simple song, but works so well and kicks a lot of ass (that’s 80s metal for ya!). They pump up the power for “Fight for Your Life” and it’s heavy, instantly accessible and must have sounded awesome live. The “single” of the album, “Burn Forever” is a stately, regal sounding affair with a larger-than-life vibe and when Angell’s slick, anthemic singing is paired with Steve Mironovich’s crunchy riffing and soaring, but sloppy solos, it’s like mana from Metal Heaven (A.K.A. Valhalla).
All the songs are great, but other notables include the moody, Helstar-esque, mid-tempo rumble of “The Cruel Sea” where Angell has his best vocal performance, and the speedy, tough-as-nails “Shades of Black”, where Mironovich uncorks some chaotic soloing that screams OLD SCHOOL to the rafters and beyond!
Though A.J. Pero was the “face” of the band because of his higher profile gig, their sound hummed because of the fusion of Angell’s vocals and Mironovich’s riffing and soloing. Angell wasn’t the most talented singer, but he had the kind of voice that sells metal to the masses and his ability to rock a working class mid-range, yet still hit those high notes really put the songs over. Likewise, nobody ever accused Mironovich of being an Yngwie-clone, but his unhinged, free-for-all solos are a joy to hear and he had a knack for writing simple, ultra-effective riffs to drive the songs.
As with many 80s albums, the sound leaves something to be desired and it’s slightly muffled, muddy and echo-filled, though the guitars have a terrifically raw, hard tone that hits with power. With the passing of so much time, even the glitches in the production makes it feel all the more retro and authentic.
In hindsight, it’s easy to see how Annihilation Absolute missed its intended audience. The “featuring Twisted Sister‘s A.J. Pero” likely turned off legions of discerning metal fans who had enough of Sister‘s cheesy drag queen schtick. Add the fuck-tastically bad cover art and nondescript band moniker and doom was almost certain (compounding these significant missteps, this was confusingly released in both EP and LP formats a year apart). Shite marketing aside, this is great album and it sounds as good now as it did then and proudly bears the style all the “retro-bands” have so desperately tried to replicate and co-opt as their own. These guys should have been the big New York hit instead of Twisted fucking Sister, so if you REALLY wanna rock, buy this right now.
The band Cities had a lot going against them in 1986. For starters, theirname doesn’t exactly scream “Heavy Metal.” 1986 was also a time when a lot of American metal bands had been signed to major labels and Cities was stuck on Metal Blade. The most notable thing about them was their drummer, A.J. Pero, who used to be in (and would be in again) Twisted Sister. I remember a lot of people, including myself, who steered clear of Annihilation Absolute because they didn’t want to hear “We’re Not Gonna Take It” or “I Wanna Rock” for the millionth time. Wow, what a colossal mistake. This album is NOTHING like Twisted Sister. Cities was in the Metal Church /Savatage/ Armored Saint camp. Heavy, hook-filled riffs, a solid rhythm section (who thought Pero could play this aggressively?) and some great mid-range, powerful vocals from singer Ron Angell. Guitarist Steve Mironovich may not have been the most technically proficient axe slinger of his day, but he really let it all hang out on his solos. Just listen to him rip up the fret board during the extended solo beginning at the 4:01 mark of “Shades of Black.” They don’t write songs like that anymore. The rest of the album is full of pounding riffs from the opener “Stop the Race,” which features a memorable screamed chorus, to the closer, “Deceiver,” easily one of the best tracks on the album. There are NO BALLADS! “Cruel Sea” is the closest thing to a ballad on the album. All the band did was slow down the tempo from mid-paced, the tempo used on the majority of the album, while retaining all the heaviness.
Cities found a winning formula on Annihilation Absolute and worked it to near perfection. Recommended.
Shades Of Black , Deceiver (2 songs for you to listen)
Doesn’t Deserve To Be Forgotten – 85%
This NYC band really deserved better than to be submerged on a tiny label. They were incredibly good. Much like Jag Panzer, Liege Lord, and Laaz Rockit, Cities delivered traditional metal songs with an energy level and sound bordering on thrash, and whats more they wrote seriously ass kicking songs! Singer Ron Angell could have been big news in a more commercially oriented band with his clear, pleasing throat, whilst guitarist Steve Mironovich possessed a sound equally adept at tough rhythms and fiery, economical soloing. In The Still Of The Night (with its Maiden-like gallop) and Burn Forever are the finest cuts on hand, although Fight For Your Life and Innocent Victim certainly have their charms as well. A nice and tight production job, squishes all elements into a bristling and compressed picture, and with material this good delivered this well, it baffles me why Cities never flourished. Okay, their band name was kinda dumb, but still.