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Profile of Switzerland's Premier '80s Heavy Metal Band Krokus

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Profile of Switzerland's Premier '80s Heavy Metal Band Krokus
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Arista/Sony Music

Formed:

1974 in Solothurn, Switzerland

Core '80s Band Members:

  • Marc Storace (born October 7, 1951 in Sliema, Malta) - Lead vocals, songwriter
  • Fernando von Arb (FVA) - Guitars, songwriter
  • Mark Kohler - Guitars
  • Chris von Rohr - Bass guitar

Early Years:

Believe it or not, Krokus began essentially as a progressive rock band, only deciding to pursue a heavier, more guitar-centered direction after drawing inspiration from an AC/DC concert that made quite an impression on founding members von Rohr and guitarist Tommy Kiefer. Still, in order to produce a powerful sound as primal as the group wanted by the late '70s, group leaders decided that a new vocalist with a wider, higher range was essential. Just in time for the '80s, enter Storace, a veteran singer who fit the bill in terms of vocal chops and had already formed a relationship with the band while touring with his Swiss band TEA.

Krokus - A Rising Force:

With Storace firmly in place as a memorable and distinctive lead vocalist, Krokus also sharpened and toughened its sound as the '80s began. Recent changes immediately began to pay off, as each of the new lineup's first three releases (1980's Metal Rendezvous, 1981's Hardware and 1982's One Vice at a Time) secured progressively higher spots on the U.S. album charts. By this point in pop music history, the popularity of heavy metal and especially the burgeoning pop metal movement set the stage perfectly for the ascent of a band like Krokus. MTV's rising focus on visuals and theatrics helped maximize the potential of a European band in America.

Peak Years & Pervasive Singularity:

Although the success of Krokus in the U.K. only spiked briefly during the very early '80s, the middle of the decade represented even greater strides for the band on a worldwide scale. Even more importantly, the group's pace did not slow at this vital juncture, as records released successively in 1983 and 1984 (Headhunter and The Blitz) both went gold and attracted massive interest in the crucial American market. Standout tracks like "Eat the Rich," "Screaming in the Night" and "Midnite Maniac" further pushed the trademark bombast and atmospheric impact of Krokus at its best.

Inevitable Slowdown & Dissolution:

Krokus followed up its zenith of success with admirable full-length efforts Change of Address (1986) and Heart Attack (1988), but the band had been working diligently to remain not only active but reasonably apart from the ballad-heavy hair metal phenomenon that had gripped America. Though generally successful at remaining true to its fierce, broad but clearly metallic sound, Krokus couldn't avoid a slight wane in record sales and impact as the decade drew to a close. Storace left before the recording of 1990's Stampede, and Krokus quietly faded into a niche in record store bargain bins.

Latter-Day Reunions & Legacy:

Intermittent but incomplete reformations of Krokus dotted the '90s and the first decade of the 21st century, but the fullest array of the band's core personnel from the '80s peak lineup did not reunite until 2010's well-received Hoodoo. The album went platinum in Switzerland, and even if it didn't return Krokus to the U.S. or U.K. charts - highly changed entities anyway from the group's mid-'80s heyday - the band impressed with its back-to-basics, straightforward rock integrity. Though quite underrated, Krokus remains one of the most consistent and heaviest '80s hard rock bands of all time.
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