Straight out of Chicago comes Henry Metal with his latest release, called War in Heaven. Henry Metal made his first appearance in 2017, with two singles, “Butthead Maven” and “Boss of Me,” followed by his debut album, So It Hath Begun, which was followed in rapid succession by three more albums.
Henry Metal’s sound encompasses heavy metal, hard rock, alternative metal, and alternative rock. What’s unique about Henry Metal is his total disregard for the conventional wisdom associated with commercial music. This disdain for a formulaic approach culminates in intense music, campy videos and contempt for taking music too seriously. Henry’s modus operandi has alienated many critics, who summarily dismiss his music as derivative or out-and-out garbage. This censure does not dissuade Henry, who says, “If you’re pissing people off, you know you’re doing something right.”
War in Heaven contains eight tracks, of which five are available for streaming via video on Bandcamp. “The Eternal Question” opens with rumbling drums, followed by thrumming heavy metal guitars discharging dark hues. A radiant synth adds eerie tones beneath the waves of guitars. When the solo kicks in, Henry struts his stuff with amazing nuclear riffs. “Epic” begins with a mellow, delicate piano and then a strident guitar enters, adding starkly sublime colors. As the hard rock melody assumes form, the music takes on a harsh-textured energy throbbing with opaque dynamics. The Jovian pulse of the drums and bass append reverberating tension.
The title track rides a thrashing metal melody full of galloping guitars and streaming synths, giving the tune a horizontal rampaging feel. The vocals radiate growling, wicked colors, as well as a menacing flavor. A wailing guitar solo pulverizes the atmosphere with pyrotechnic licks and a wall of impenetrable sound.
“Daisy” opens with light guitars and a thick bassline that rides an alt rock melody suffused with suppressed energy, portentous and proximate. Glowing synths provide a filament of coloration that leads into a piercing guitar solo that’s surrounded by rolling drums and a potent bassline. This is one of my favorite tunes on the album because of its balanced, yet muscular feel.
“Nunchaku” features roiling guitars traveling on a hard rock melody infused with southern rock tinctures, giving it a rambling puissance. Thick, powerful guitars rage with weighty dominance held under precise control. And the emerging vocal harmonies imbue the tune with sparks of bright colors juxtaposed against the dense guitars. The solo is delicious and gutsy, yet not overcooked. This is another excellent song.
The lyrics to “Nunchaku” demonstrate the singular scope and pent-up burlesque aspect of Henry Metal’s posture.
“Nunchucks are the weapon that you will need when / Enemies simply must be destroyed / If you face off with a stubborn opponent / These are two sticks that you’ll want to employ / Walking down the street when the sun go down / You find yourself on the bad side of town / Fools in your face thinkin’ they got you / Whap goes the stick right upon his crown / And you haven’t a clue (Nunchaku) / They’ll turn your face to stew (Nunchaku) / If you only knew (Nunchaku) / And you haven’t a clue (Nunchaku) / If you only knew (Nunchaku) / What nunchaku can do (Nunchaku).”
War in Heaven is a heavy-duty album, especially for fans of metal. Original melodies, pulsing with energy and vibrating rhythms, are anything but derivative. Henry Metal’s voice retains a presumptuous vitality that works well, and his talent on the axe is superb – great shredding and ascendant riffs.