Lions Pride were established in 1983 by members of Westfalen, which in case you never heard them before was a great obscure heavy/speed band hailing from Genk, Belgium that released an excellent 5 track EP in 1985 that placed them in the pantheon of the sub-genre with only one release.
Back in 1983 Benito Boccasile was only 16 years old and jammed with his friend Pino Morciano on drums and the bassist in Westfalen Johan Westhovens and working on new material for a hobby for an unnamed by then band the 3 friends have started up.
At one live concert of Westfalen Willy Beckers ex singer in a small local band under the moniker of Black Funeral asked for guitar lessons by Boccasile. As Boccasile was impressed by Willy’s voice he asked him to participate in the rehearsals with his secondary band that he had with his friends.
Westfalen’s second guitarist Clarence Akkermans had the idea to join as a second guitarist and this led to the creation of a new band with Willy Becker’s on vocals and this is how Lions Pride were actually born. The well-crafted booklet that Lost Realm always its releases has all the details of the band’s building lineup. It also has many photos and all the lyrics.
I first learned about them when a close friend of mine bought the back catalogue of Mausoleum Records from a bankrupt record store helping a friend of him to avoid foreclosure. One of the small gems I discovered was Breaking Out in which the two friends were arguing if it was a failure of many Mausoleum had invest and lost its money or whether it was a well-kept secret of Hard Rock/Heavy metal coming from the Benelux. Well as you can guess I still believe it is a great album, not a masterpiece yet really entertaining.
Unfortunately, this was the only album the band delivered; in a way you can call them a one hit wonder band.
On October 22nd they open the first “Shockwave Festival”, organised by their later record label Mausoleum and by the concert agency “Easy Livin”, which Willy Beckers was running with Gilliam Janssen. At the end of the night they had a contract with the label.
During April and May of 1984 they recorded their debut ´Breaking Out´ in ICP Studios in Brussels. The album was finally out in late September and after less than 30 days Pino Morciano left from the group for personal reasons and was been replaced by Howard Heckers. Another hard month later in December 1984, due to musical differences, Clarence Akkermans left and formed X-ES while Noud Smeets from Morgan Le Fay (not the cult heroes from Sweden) replaced him. Many line-up changes, different musical visions and directions led Lions Pride to an end.
The album has an 89’s sparkle and a vivid aura that is capturing. ‘ The Night hunter’ has this Thin Lizzy vibe and ‘Working Class’ is a lie collar hymn while ‘ A real Friend’ shows a sentimental side of Westafalen guys, and unveils an excellent vocalist with a warm voice with a remarkable range. One of the greatest moments of the album indeed with nice guitars and brilliant performance from Becker’s. ‘The Eyes of the Lion’ that closes the A side of the vinyl is made of the hit singles’ ingredients that you may have heard in a metal bar somewhere/ sometime and sounds so familiar and intimate to your ears but unfortunately probably you may have never heard before.
The B’ side starts with full force and the ‘Breaking Out’ song that will bring you in mind Ronnie James Dio solo albums, ‘Sixty Nine’ is a melodic guitar based track that oozes an 80’s motif reminding me a bit of Ostrogoth or Picture (the band from The Netherlands). The album close with 2 strong compositions, ´Struggle For Life´ in which we can hear some clever guitars in the veins of Scorpions meets Van Halen and the rocker ´Let The Music Rule The World´ that once again brings in mind a mixture of Ostrogoth and Dio, before the 2 bonus songs, the live versions of ´Lions Pride´ and ´Free Rider´.
As I have mentioned before ´Breaking Out´ is released via “Lost Realm Records” in a deluxe re-issue CD (+ DVD) and vinyl LP with the already known high quality that the label is offering us.