Published on March 22nd, 2020 | by Justin G.
Beneath The Surface: Race The Night (Divebomb, 1988/2020)
So this has to be one of the oddest debut stories ever. Not the formation of the band itself, but the path they took to record their first album. English rockers Surface had been kicking around the scene since 1980, cutting a demo in 1985 (with Shy’s Tony Mills on backing vocals, no less). Their first album – Race The Night – came a year later, but it was a live release instead of a studio album. Then in 1988, Race The Night got wider distribution and the band was rebranded as Beneath The Surface. The band, unfortunately, never caught on and never released a follow-up, so their one album ended up being a live record.
Setting aside the unconventional choice to debut with a live album, Race The Night is actually pretty damned great. Surface/Beneath The Surface had that signature UK melodic hard rock sound that had traces of pomp, traces of AOR and traces of metal. Stylistically they were similar to Shy, Bronz, Magnum, Tobruk and Shogun. Gez Finnigan’s vocals actually sound a lot like Dave Hill and Peter Goalby, so there is a strong Demon and mid-’80s Uriah Heep vibe on Race The Night, which is a huge plus. The live aspect ends up adding a certain dramatic flair to these already pomp-infused, keyboard drenched melodic hard rock songs. “Race The Night,” “Paris,” “It’s No Good” and “Night Creature” are standouts, but these are all really strong songs performed very well.
Race The Night is one of those albums that a) immediately makes you think of a specific era and region – in this case the mid-’80s UK melodic rock sound – and marvel at how perfect an example it is, and b) makes you ask yourself why you’re only now just discovering the band. If you’re into the British melodic rock sound, especially bands like Magnum, Demon, Uriah Heep and Shy, you absolutely have to discover Beneath The Surface.
Reissue Notes: Race The Night has been out of print for more than 30 years, but thanks to the Divebomb label we finally get a chance to experience this melodic gem. And of course they did it in style. The Race The Night Deluxe Edition includes the band’s rare 1985 demo (so we do get a few studio tracks) and all songs have been newly remastered. The liner notes include vintage photos and a new band interview. It’s a great-looking and great-sounding reissue all-around.
Summary: A total lost gem for fans of Magnum, Uriah Heep and Shy