TKO - 1986 Below The Belt

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 2 in year-1986


ALBUM: Below The Belt
LABEL: Roadrunner
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: Reissue List


LINEUP: Brad Sinsel - vocals * Kjartan Kristoffersen - guitars * Scott Earl - bass * Ken Mary - drums * Michael Alexisch - drumsAdditional Musicians: Rick Asher-Keefer - synths, percussion, production * Adam Brenner - additional guitar 'Sticks N Stones'

TRACK LISTING: 01 Beware The Hunter * 02 With My Back To The Wall * 03 Below The Belt * 04 Can't Let Go * 05 Chains Don't Change * 06 Rock n Roll Remains * 07 Seventeen * 08 Doin' Time * 09 Fallin' To Pieces * 10 Sticks N Stones


Late last year saw the release of the triumvirate of TKO's discography, thanks to Rock Candy Records. Of the three, perhaps it is the third and final release 'Below The Belt' which became the lesser known of their output. The band, from the Pacific Northwest city of Seattle had an active career which saw a revolving door membership of musicians from their early days from the mid 70's, right through to the mid 80's. There was cross pollination across several Seattle bands/acts, including Adam Bomb, Q5 and Culprit. The band had changed identity in-between albums; from the 70's glam rock of 'Let It Roll', and then reverting to heavy metal for 'In Your Face' (recorded in 1981 but released in 1984). Adam Brenner (aka Adam Bomb) had gone off to a solo career in 1982, with former Culprit six-stringer Kjartan Kristoffersen joining later. Ken Mary played drums on the album, but he didn't stick around, as he got a call up from Alice Cooper, his place for the forthcoming tour/gigs taken up by Michael Alexich, an old buddy of Sinsel's.

The Songs

Released on Roadrunner Records, history would show this album didn't fare quite as well as the previous one, but that's not to say it's inferior. Far from it. The sound here reminds me of early Pantera (which was their commercial Kiss meets Def Leppard era), and Sinsel is in fine form, with his gruff streetwise vocals. So too guitarist Kristoffersen, who makes his presence felt with some muscular playing and some fluid soaring solos. It's certainly not as heavy as the previous album 'In Your Face', and for first time listeners, you'll probably get the impression that this is a commercial sounding metal record. It was 1986 after all. Highlights include'With My Back To The Wall' which has a Fierce Heart vibe to it, the stirring title-track 'Below The Belt', and the fiery fast tempo of 'Fallin' To Pices'. However, the ballad 'Sticks N Stones' and the bluesy 'Doin' Time' don't quite do it for me.

In Summary

That would be it for T.K.O, the band passed in by the label, and folding later on in 1986. Subsequent careers then were born. Mucvh of the band's future histoyr is pretty extensive so I won't dwell on it too much, only to say that Sinsel went on to Suicide Squad and War Babies, Kristoffersen and Earl would be part of the band Bang Gang, while Ken Mary found his way to the Bonfire sessions for their 1987 album 'Fire Works' and then onto House Of Lords. There have been numerous reunions of T.K.O in later years, and also a bunch of albums released on the Divebomb Records label, which I don't think were great fidelity wise. However, I think we can all agree that the Rock Candy reissues are the ones to get. Grab them before they disappear.

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