Okay, quick word association game: When we say “Bulgaria,” what’s the first thing that pops to mind? For us it’s french fries slathered in partially melted sirene, but heavy metal is a close second. And so you can only imagine the great times we’ve been having sifting through the archives of this stupendous site, inarguably the world’s leading repository of Bulgarian metal music and trivia.
The site led us to discover the clip above, from Bulgarian metal forefathers Impulse. It’s off this 1988 album, which means its release predated the collapse of the Soviet Union by many months. So how did Bulgaria’s Communist regime let such obviously decadent music slip through the censorship net? We credit the Scorpions, whose landmark tour of Eastern Europe in 1987 made Bulgaria safe for metal—and alsomay have played just as big a role in Communism’s destruction as the aggressive posturing of Ronald Reagan. Legs McNeil covered the tour for Spin, and his account is well worth your time. One of our favorite passages:
I leave to search the huge playing field for girls. I am amazed at the mind-boggling sameness of it all. In New York City, you can always tell when a heavy metal band is playing Madison Square Garden, because the angel dust casualties and the kids in motorcycle-gang gear, sans motorcycles, train in from the suburbs to Pennsylvania Station under the Garden and wander around the garment district in a drunken stupor. Here in Budapest, 40,000 kids have trained in from all over the Eastern bloc, looking like the same fucking kids! Same greasy hair, same sneakers and blue jeans, same denim jackets with 666 painted on the back. But no one is smoking pot or drinking beer. Jerry Falwell would be proud.
Fun addendum to McNeil’s reporting: Those kids weren’t wearing Levis, but rather cheap Bulgarian knockoffs known generically as panacas. Those Communist-era pants have since been memorialized in agreeably metal fashion.