Once upon a time, when he still had metal relevance, Jonny Z. of Megaforce got the questionable idea of doing a one-off novelty song with the Rods serving as his backing band. So what is the resulting record? An oddball novelty release deserving of its minor infamy? A wacky 80's curiousity? A strange testament to the growing popularity and mainstream acceptance of metal at the time? A vanity project? A well-intentioned attempt to celebrate the greatness of metal gone wrong? A harebrained Zazula scheme? Probably some of all of these.
Before going into the music, let's look at the cover, which is an immediate subject of much derision. Jonny is decked out like a low budget version of El Duce. Actually, considering that it's El Duce we're talking about, let's say lower budget, but the sweat-stained pillowcase here really does make the Mentors hoods look like highbrow costuming. The Lone Rager is clearly an early proponent of the fringe-jacket-in-metal look, also championed by Dave Mustaine and Turbo-era Halford. I wish I had written about this record years ago so I could make a gag about Marsha being whipped with the belt he's wielding, but unfortunately nowadays I'm immediately reminded of the Fueled By Fire album with the Hot Topic patron looking kid being choked with a pyramid stud belt. The Rager appears to be laying down his metal credo from a law office; since Zazula is Jewish, I'm guessing a relative offered its use for a quick photoshoot.
I have to stress that in contrast to its title, there's no actual rap to be found on Metal Rap. The backing track is relatively simplistic metal/hard rock that keeps an upbeat rhythm but is free from any trace of rap. Jonny's vocals are an attempt at "rapping," perhaps, but more accurately it's a Jersey accent--with added "funky" inflection--talking in a stilted cadence. It's corny, tongue-in-cheek stuff and the vocals definitely bring a '70s radio DJ-type voice to mind. The most annoying element is the dumb child chorus singing "Metal Music" after every verse, perhaps foreshadowing poppy European power metal trends. The kids are all individually credited on the back cover, but I don't recognize any of the last names except for Jonny's daughter. I'm not sure if they are children of band members, of Old Bridge Militia members, of booth owners at the Route 18 flea market, or what. I would be delighted to learn that any of these children were molested due to having appeared on this recording.
The B-side ("Special Air-Guitar Headbanging Dub) is an instrumental version with guitar shredding over the top courtesy of Andy "Duck" MacDonald (guitarist in later incarnations of Blue Cheer, who also played on the Thrasher album on Combat). It's pleasant enough but admittedly it exudes a certain feeling of genericness similar to stock music. It reminds me a lot of the end credits music from the old Hard'n'Heavy videotapes. One can also draw some comparisons to Thor's "Death March," though the Thor instrumental is much more ominous--and better. All that said, I wouldn't mind listening to an album of instrumental material like this at all. And therein lies the major problem with this release--the A-side is more "interesting" from a novelty standpoint, but has very limited value for repeat listening. The B-side is more enjoyable, but without any vocals it completely sidesteps the whole "rap" schtick the record is based on and seems like a tacked-on afterthough. While the A-side was put on the Deeper into the Vault compilation, the B-side is unfortunately unavailable elsewhere--it would be nice to see it on a compilation or as a bonus track just for the sake of completism.
The lyrics are surprisingly good overall, especially considering they were most likely penned in a couple of minutes. Yes, some lame bands are mentioned and corny lines show up in order to force things to rhyme, but they're fairly witty--get past the tongue-in-cheek aspect, and they contain a pretty accurate assessment of the early metal scene. There's also some fun "Heavy Metal Hunter"-style name-checking at the end, and I can't bring myself to be overly harsh with any lyrics that manage to mention Bodine, H-Bomb, and X-Ray in a single verse.
Admittedly this was a pretty dumb idea that ended up being executed well enough, and as an inoffensive novelty, it's far from the worst things Megaforce has been associated with. I'm not sure it deserved retail release as a 12", though; it should have been a flexi or perhaps a freebie for buying $50 worth of stuff at Rock n' Rock Heaven. Not to diminish his contributions to heavy metal, but it seems like Jonny Z. always had a bit of a narcissistic streak (some of the old Megaforce, uh, "promotional tactics," the Metallica Behind the Music clip where he made a tenous connection between Megadeth's name and Megaforce, and the liner notes of the Deeper into the Vault compilation, which tout Lone Rager as some sort of groundbreaking genre fusion), so I wonder if putting this out was an extension of that.