Brats – “The Lost Tapes – Copenhagen 1979” CD / LP (High Roller Records)
Battle Helm Rating
How long does it take to issue a debut – well, try 40 years!!! Who are Brats – well, many see them as an early version of Mercyful Fate although they were a band in their own right, and a punk band at that. So what’s the association between the two – so guitarist Hank Shermann (known at the time as Hank De Wank!) was in the band since their start in 1978 but at one time or another, so was guitarist Michael Denner and vocalist King Diamond. And when Brats split in 1981, Shermann and Diamond, who were already writing heavier music, changed the name to Mercyful Fate which became formally born when Denner re-joined them. As is suggested by the title, “The Lost Tapes – Copenhagen 1979” is 16 songs that were originally scheduled to be released as Brats debut on the record label Irmgardz, however, CBS, who were getting ready to make their own offer, stipulated as part of the signing that this couldn’t happen as they wanted to release the debut, later titled “1980”. The rest is history as they say, however, the material here, which is inspired by the Ramones and Misfits also evidences in its heavier moments, the hard rock ‘n’ roll that made Twisted Sister massive as well as the heavy metal that would form the basis for Mercyful Fate’s proto black metal. Recorded by the trio of Shermann, bassist / vocalist Yenz Cheyenne and drummer Lars Monroe, the songs have been well restored and aren’t lacking their original fire as well as an instant catchiness, making for a great listen as well as a nostalgic look back at Brats MkII in 1979. With plenty of raw guitar mushing into Yenz’s dirty bass on ‘No School’, the chugging punk rock ‘n’ roll riffs draw in the Misfits as do the Danzig-like vocals although Shermann’s metallic solo and the harmony shout-outs already evidence the early signs of something different in the making. Utterly nihilistic with its Bauhaus like pumping raw bass and baritone vocals on ‘Ladies’, Shermann’s metallic chords and some creepy keyboards really bring a touch of B-movie mania in a sound that must have been (literally) ground breaking for the late 70s so it’s easy why CBS wanted to give this talented band a shot. In a true ode to Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy, ‘Prostitute’ as all the hallmarks of New York punk rock while ‘Can’t Sleep’ is Dee Snider’s life story in the yanked and cranked hard rock ‘n’ roll told through Yenz’s soundalike vocals and completed by Shermann’s shredding guitar work. Brats may long be over, but this true debut is the missing release completing their discography as well as an authentic timepiece capturing the nostalgia of the late 70s Danish punk rock scene.