(TheBRHM.com) Katherine “The Great Kat” Thomas is an odd character in metal. Born in Swindon, England in 1966 and graduated from Julliard specializing in multiple instruments—particularly strings.
She began her career in heavy metal in 1986 and released her debut album Worship Me or Die in 1987. Let’s see if this veteran virtuoso delivers some bangers here!
The Great Kat – Worship Me or Die! (1987)
What can I say about this album? It’s fast as hell for the late 80s and speed is something I enjoy with my music. The Great Kat played speed metal on this debut before moving on to shred metal for the majority of her catalog.
Shred metal is basically fast, guitar-heavy metal. There might be two or three songs on an album with singing but it’s mainly all about guitarwork, solos, and the like.
While Kat sings on a few of her future albums, she handles singing duties in full here. This is pretty rare in shred and neo-classical metal as usually the guitarist just plays guitar.
That’s not to say that she did a good job here. She didn’t. Her singing her was serviceable for the lyrics—which are bad. Actually, for a few songs they’re pretty awesome then it gets old fast.
The best way I can describe her singing is if you’ve ever heard the deceased WWF wrestler and manager Luna Vachon talk: imagine her singing in that raspy, menacing voice.
Fun side note: Luna Vachon actually did vocals on the Nasty Savage song “XXX” in 1987.
I don’t even blame her since singing and coming up lyrics aren’t her strengths, it’s her guitar playing, charisma, and stage presence. If she would’ve gotten a singer and songwriter, this song could’ve easily floated over into solid to good territory.
This kind of fast metal had become prominent in metal thanks to thrash metal and speed metal in the late 80s. So, she showed up to the party just in time and Worship Me or Die works as a decent introduction but it’s far from strong work.
That said, there are some strong tracks on the album. The opener “Metal Messiah” got a music video and some play on MTV. It’s also the best track on the album and should’ve been used as the blueprint for future albums.
“Kat Possessed” and “Speed Death” are also above-average songs on the album.
Standout Tracks: Metal Messiah, Kat Possessed, Speed Death
A lot of this album is pretty mid if you want something more than shred and really bad lyrics. I can enjoy shred metal but I’m not that big on just a lot of instrumentals. Fortunately, there are none here.
The Great Kat showed up to play metal and showcase her skills. On this album, she did that. Her guitar playing works for me although listeners and musicians with a trained ear will point out how sloppy she can be at times.
It’s not the sloppiness that bothers me, it’s the lyrics with tons of over-the-top, cartoonish violence. I’m talking laughing when you score a “Fatality” in the Mortal Kombat games cartoonish, folks.
To really drive home how cartoonish they are, she shouts and screams throughout the album. That’s not even a problem for me because alongside her guitar playing, her shout-singing would’ve probably scored if the lyrics were better.
On one hand, you could say she was doing a parody of extreme, violent lyrics in metal music but I don’t know about doing that while showcasing some really sound musicianship.
That is unless the name of your band is named Zimmer’s Hole, Dethklok, or Piledriver. This wasn’t the case on Worship Me or Die but the direction of the album wasn’t just utterly trash.
For the late 1980s, The Great Kat had a marketable look, stage presence, and talent. Her wild/over-the-top dominatrix public persona is kind of like a white woman version of Screamin’ Jay and would’ve been new for the 80s even if everyone had already seen it in the 50s and 60s.
Fans love the initial novelty of women doing anything that has long been considered masculine or aggressive. It’s just what fans do.
Worship Me or Die was a decent introduction to The Great Kat but the follow ups weren’t as strong. As a matter of fact, most of those albums were primarily instrumentals and shred.
This debut is definitely the direction she should’ve continued building on. Hey the 2020s have started off odd and the rules no longer apply so maybe we will see a Worship Me or Die II.
Grade: Decent Enough
Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.