Many have aspired to carry the heavy-metal mantle, but the members of Lady Beast — which releases its debut self-titled record Fri., Aug. 17 — know it takes more than a couple fast riffs and a jean vest to do the Metal Gods proud. As anyone who has left a Lady Beast show with a bangover and a dazed smile already knows, the band blends devout traditionalism and musicianship with exuberant originality. The result is so damn near perfect that one wonders if band members time-traveled from 1972 and think they're the first people to play music this rocking.
The record — the fourth release from bassist Greg Colaizzi's label, Cobra Cabana — is packed with catchy, triumphant anthems and odes to metal itself. Nods to New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden are well executed, but singer Deb Levine's clean, soaring vocal acrobatics bear an impressive resemblance to Ronnie James Dio. Despite sharing members with bands from elsewhere on Pittsburgh's rock music map — including Wrath Cobra, Oh Shit They're Going to Kill Us, and Carousel — drummer Adam Ramage says, "We don't really have fights or creative differences."
"We know which influences to bring to the table and which to leave at home," Colaizzi adds.
That's true of the 12-inch vinyl record and its packaging, too. The artwork, like all good metal album art, looks the way the record sounds. "The band is called Lady Beast," says guitarist Tommy Kinnett, "so you have to have a tough-looking lady on the cover." Artists Christopher St. Pierre and Bill Gilliland produced a Barry Windsor Smith-style painting of a warrior woman astride a mountaintop, bloody sword in one hand, throwing up horns with the other.
"We want to give people their money's worth." Ramage says. "I buy records for the artwork, and we gear toward people who care about that. We wanted to have all the bells and whistles."
Or as guitarist Chris "Twiz" Tritschler puts it, "What would be fucking awesome to get at a show?"
Any resemblance between Levine herself and the Lady Beast on the album's cover is incidental. But, Levine jokes, "The next album will have all the guys on it. Don't worry, American ladies!"