Medusa – “First Step Beyond” – [Numero Group]
This is MEDUSA, not to be confused with the other 15 or so groups worldwide named Medusa. This is the first of the three U.S. Medusa’s and Numero Group has made us proud to have them. First: the fold out album cover is BLACK VELVET with blood red and gold metallic colors. There’s a pentagram and devil goat head and mysterious symbols and claws with fire and….. Oh man this is great. It’s gonna be so satanic.
Well, don’t judge a book by it’s cover… or it’s song titles. This is not death metal. It is early 1970’s prog influenced proto metal recorded in a garage in Chicago by some folks who were ahead of there time, or in the wrong place at the right time or something. The first song, “Strangulation”, opens with a great high pitched vocalization and then the soon to be classic opening line “Black spider on the wall of your mind.” It’s almost like they shot their wad in the the first 10 seconds. Can it get better than this? Well it does and in a variety of ways. Long instrumental psych out proggy freak outs. Darker and darker lyrics about becoming a black wizard and how all is bad. Some metal transitions. Varied skill levels of guitar riffs and note picking. I actually enjoy the less skillful messed up fret work. The recording is muddled and raw sounding which adds to the uniqueness of this recording. And actually, between you and me, even though others have compared it to early Hawkwind and Black Sabbath, I think it’s just one big lament over not getting the girl he (the singer) wanted. If you start with the songs on side B, the first is about the great girl who he wanted (in high school probably). She was great but it didn’t happen. Then as songs go along, he gets more and more hurt and distraught. She’s a temptress. The world is more bleak. He can never have her so he turns into a black wizard, and why not. This is now side A which I think is the end of the record. On the last song of side A he talks about how frightening women are and says go ahead and “call me chauvinist, I don’t care.” Well all right. This bit of metalish history is definitely worth numerous plays. All hail the dark wizard.