A touch of metal is perfect to get through the rain-sodden gale out my window. As per normal, we have an interesting variety here.
In the whole retro metal theme, there are some bands remind us of the more fun, 80s heavy-rock. No one is ever going to think of bands like W.A.S.P., Accept, and Exciter in serious terms, but they were a hell of a lot of fun. Granted some good time bands did try the serious route and bombed miserably.
Armour like it heavy and loud with fists held high and a touch of humor. If you are of a certain age, you have heard it all before but that is not really a bad thing. Get past the “derivative” feel to the album and it’s a damn good listen. “Satan’s Knights” is just as nutty as it sounds and “Rock n Roll Tonight” could be off a Kiss album of the era, “Heavy Metal Drinkers” reminds of Running Wild. Of course you have typical “Sex Demon”. This is certainly not an album that’ll trouble the likes of Dream Theater or their ilk.
This album breaks no boundaries, does nothing new, and is anything if overly clever. None of those things makes it a bad album. If you want some brain-dead heavy metal then this lot produce just what the heavy metal doctor ordered.
Free Reign: Tragedy
A bunch of jocks who can also do a mean line in heavy metal? This isn’t even mock or joke metal. It's straight ahead, modern metal that does the business quite well. While their fellow athletes are prone to make an arse of themselves in celebratory songs about their team, none of that is going on here. English readers can instantly think of glaring examples of such ego excess. This is even more metal than the mighty Jericho’s Fozzy.
Made up of a couple of guards and a tackle from the Dallas Cowboys and guitarist Justin Chapman, these guys do the business. They share a label with Fozzy, but they are far more modern in tone to their trad. They have gotten props from guys like Zakk Wylde, Scott Ian, and Eddie Ojeda. It's good enough to think that the guys have a future once they age out of football.
The cynical could say that their status as pro-footballers helped get them the deal, but that is where the cynicism is gonna stop. Free Reign need to get into the studio and produce a full length release. Based on the strength of this, it's something to keep an eye out for and expect on tour soon.
Heathen: The Evolution of Chaos
These guys have been around for 30 years and are not worried about trends in metal. This is traditional heavy metal in all its glory. Born in the mid-80s metal heyday, they were well thought of in their era. It's so nice to have a band like this return and do what they do best. No re-introduction needed, Heathen have taken up where they left off as if no time has passed. It might have been 20 years, but no one would be able to tell.
Fans and critics alike are welcoming the band back with open arms. New bands wanting to know how to do proper heavy metal should listen to this many times. There is a foray into hard rock on a track or two, but that is a minor quibble which is silly. You will hear very few more consistent heavy metal albums this year.
If you ever met a Heathen fan who lamented that they never made it to the A list of heavy metal, then this album might convince you. Maybe the 20 year break will give them the opportunity they deserve. If you like your traditional heavy metal then you would be foolish not to grab a copy of this for your collection.
Andre Matos: Mentalize
When many metal fans think Brazil, they think of bands such as Sepultura, the Cavalera Conspiracy, and all the other associated bands. Do you know that there is quite a seam of power metal seeping out of the Amazon to the world’s ears. A bit of a child prodigy, Matos started his first band at age 13. He sings, plays piano, and is seen as a composer. He was honed on a diet of Iron Maiden then went on to from the Iron Maiden-alike Angra.
Now a solo artist he has assembled a crack team of musicians for his solo efforts. This is his second since going solo. That said, he has former Angra members along for the ride to keep some consistency. This is a strong power metal release that sees him continue the work he did with Angra and build on it with maturity. This is a band primed to hit the big time internationally and join the other power metal heavy-weights. Matos does fall down a bit when he tries to do bit of a Meatloaf-esque power-ballad mid-record, but you can’t fault him for trying.
Overall this is slickly produced power metal as you’d expect. Strings all sorts of accompaniments are popped into in order to make this as epic as the genre demands. This should get Matos the attention he desires on the international scene and to the audiences he so obviously needs.
Well, that is your selection for this week. Quite a nice selection for your listening pleasure with a fairly good level of quality, if not originality. As always please stay safe and rocking.