Published on September 25th, 2016 | by Justin G.
Kill For Thrills: Dynamite From Nightmareland
Everyone has that album that they just love but no one else seems to appreciate. When it comes to the Hollywood “hair metal scene” in the late 1980s, that album for me has to be Dynamite From Nightmareland, the 1990 debut album from Kill For Thrills. If people know the band at all, it’s usually because Kill For Thrills featured guitarist/vocalist Gilby Clarke before he joined Guns n’ Roses.
Given the time and place, you might expect Dynamite From Nightmareland to sound like the typical L.A. Guns-style sleaze rock album. It does have some elements of that sound, but Kill For Thrills was not another spandex and lipstick band singing about parties and tits. They wrote intelligent and emotional lyrics, and didn’t seem overly concerned with the hair metal clichés. Think Love-era Cult if they didn’t take themselves quite so seriously, or maybe a less Beatles-obsessed Saigon Kick. Or Electric Angels meets the first Royal Court of China album.
Dynamite From Nightmareland is melodic, and has plenty of rock punch, but there’s a real heart and soul here that the average Hollywood hair band lacked. It feels authentic, not plastic, and that’s something that scene didn’t have a lot of. “Commercial Suicide” was the single from this album, but “Motorcycle Cowboys” and “Wedding Flowers” could have been hits with the right push. Songs like “Paisley Killers” and “My Addiction” had an almost college radio vibe. But fun. And rocking. Gilby Clarke really shines here, especially as a vocalist. The heart he showed on his later solo material is more than evident.
Obviously I’m a fan of this album. I won’t go the tired old “could have been huge” route because given where rock was and where it was going, I can see how Dynamite From Nightmareland was something of a square peg. And it’s not like Gilby Clarke didn’t go on to bigger and better things. Still, it’s reassuring to see this album getting another look. Anyone who enjoys the whole 80’s Hollywood hair metal scene, especially fans of the more unconventional bands like Saigon Kick, Enuff Z’nuff and Extreme, really ought to enjoy the Kill For Thrills vibe. They put out something really memorable in Dynamite For Nightmareland, and it even holds up surprisingly well more than 25 years later.
Reissue Notes: I knew someone would eventually reissue this gem, but I was afraid it would be a perfunctory Wounded Bird repress. Instead the French reissue label Bad Reputation (formerly Axe Killer) got to it, giving us a very impressive update of Dynamite From Nightmareland. Not only do they give the album an impressive remastering, but they’ve also included the band’s 1989 Commercial Suicide EP (also remastered) as bonus tracks. The booklet has the original credits for both releases, but lacks the essay and vintage photos that a Rock Candy reissue would have offered. Still, that’s a pretty minor complaint about this great sounding reissue of one of the lost gems of the late ‘80s hard rock scene.
Label: Bad Reputation
Where to get it: http://amzn.to/2drnEC5
Summary: Bad Reputation made a great album even better. It's pricey, but worth it.