30 Years Ago: Krokus Makes a Play for the Mainstream
Though it might have come as a surprise to anyone who purchased it on Aug.22, 1984, 'The Blitz' was actually Krokus' eighth studio effort.
Most of America, to that point, thought of Krokus as a relatively new proposition, though the Swiss band’s roots actually stretched all the way back to the mid-'70s when they issued a mostly forgotten self-titled debut album. In truth, 1984 found Krokus almost unrecognizably changed, both musically and in terms of personnel.
Not until the arrival of guitarist Fernando von Arb in 1977, and then singer Marc Storace in 1980, did Krokus change gears from progressive to hard rock. Increasingly solid albums like ‘Metal Rendez-Vous’ and ‘One Vice at a Time’ brought the group to the attention of Arista Records’ Clive Davis.
Krokus had much in common with Germany’s then-very popular Accept, too, given the quasi-thrashing intensity occasionally displayed on Krokus’ breakthrough Arista release, 1983’s ‘Headhunter.’ That project lifted the band over the all-important gold sales plateau, and seemed to set the sonic template for an even bigger commercial smash in ‘The Blitz.’
This time, however, the scary skull-and-bones on the previous album cover were replaced by a far more appealing scantily clad young lady -- and the music within was likewise toned down. Krokus elected to showcase its less frantic, more melodic qualities via catchy new head-bangers such as ‘Out of Control,’ ‘Rock the Nation’ and ‘Ready to Rock.’
That was just the proverbial tip of the makeover iceberg, as the band sculpted made-to-order singles like ‘Our Love’ (an excellent power ballad kept honest by Storace’s gravely shriek), ‘Boys Nite Out’ (cowritten by solo superstar Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance), ‘Midnite Maniac’ (the video for which looked like a shot-for-shot sequel to Def Leppard’s ‘Photograph’), and a can’t-miss cover of the Sweet’s perennial glam anthem, ‘Ballroom Blitz.’
Sure enough, all of this carefully calculated, crafted and packaged material efficiently brought Krokus another gold certification for ‘The Blitz,’ but could take them no closer to the next, platinum-plated level. In the end, it might have been because the band played it so safe. On the one hand, they could hardly fail in a broader marketplace but, on the other, Krokus had alienated just as many fans from their heavier-leaning core. Their widely reviled ninth album ‘Change of Address’ followed, and Krokus' moment in the sun was gone.