JUSTIN’S METAL REVIEWS W/C 23/2/09
LAMB OF GOD / WRATH
In many ways Lamb Of God are the archetypal Metal band of the 21st Century, they are an amalgam of everything that has gone before somehow fused into something new, unique, vibrant and exciting.
This is the bands 5th studio album and their first for new label Roadrunner and there can’t be any self respecting Metal fan that doesn’t know who these guys are. To my ears they sound like a cross with Metalcore mixed with Pantera, Slayer and early Metallica. The album kicks off properly with the groove laden “In Your Words” before going into the first single “Set To Fail”, which is Lamb Of God at their very best. The track “Contractor” kicks off with a scream, literally and is swiftly followed by the excellent “Fake Messiah” and the brilliant “Grace”, you cant call yourself a Metal fan if you don’t like these tracks. The pace doesn’t let up with “Broken Hands”; the riff filled “Dead Seeds” and “Everything Or Nothing”. Its not until the final track, “Reclamation” that the guys ease up the pace but that’s not to say that this CD lack dynamics because it doesn’t.
This is another fine album from the guys and will win new fans and keep us old ones happy too, a well deserved album of the week and an essential buy, getting the digipak will give you 2 extra tracks that you have to have.
TOTAL PLAYING TIME = 55 mins + 13 TRACKS
HAMMERFALL / NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY
When a band changes the lead vocalist its sound changes considerably, take Van Halen with David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar or Priest with Halfor and Owens, both good but different animals entirely due the respective vocalists style and that’s what Hammerfall are now facing.
The only way to face this dilemma is to put aside your expectations, forget the bands name and just listen to the music and that’s what I did with this latest from Hammerfall. Yes their sound has changed but underneath they are still the same guys but the new vocalist dose make them sound more like Helloween with a touch of Edguy but thankfully I like both of these and once I had accepted that I got into the songs and enjoyed them for what they are, damned fine Metal. The opening track “Any Means “Necessary” typifies the new vocalists style and gives the band a slightly more commercial sound, the underlying music is as good as it ever was, so no worries there. The next track “Life Is Now” sees the band sounding very much like Helloween, with catchy chorus and a strong, memorable, hook.
If you put aside all your expectations and just listen to the Metal you will see that HammerFall are still a force to be reckoned with, yes there will be some fans that prefer the old style to the new but they should win new fans as well, which can only be good. Listen out for: “Punish & Enslave”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, “Bring The Hammer Down” and the fantastic Power Ballad that is “Between Two Worlds”, a well deserved album of the week, listen out for tacks on my HFM and Pipeline shows.
TOTAL PLAYING TIME = 50 mins + 11 TRACKS
WIZARD / THOR
If Power Metal bands were cheese then Wizard would be Stilton, no problem but hey I love cheese and it doesn’t come much better than this, unless it’s the new Manowar album.
These German guys know what they’re doing and don’t put a fret wrong, the guitar amps are turned up to 11 and packed with riffs that could kill, the songs are totally over the top and the bass drum pounds like Thor’s might hammer. The album is as you would expect all about Norse Mythology, with all the mighty hero’s epic tales being told to the tune of some very fine Metal indeed, “Asgard” pounds along at a thunderous pace and is second to none. The pace slows down a touch with the Power of the “Serpent’s Venom” that starts off at a sedate pace, before picking up and turning into yet another epic, “Resurrection” and “The Visitor” are as good as any Manowar track, yes that good.
If you haven’t come across Wizard yet and like over the top Power Metal like Rhapsody Of Fire, etc then you will love this CD, this is total escapism at its best, totally essential listening.
TOTAL PLAYI NG TIME = 49 mins + 11 MIGHTY TRACKS
RUMPELSTILTSKIN GRINDER / LIVE FOR DEATH, DESTROY THE REST
If you like Thrash Metal and Horror then these guys are just what you’re looking for as they mix both with great ease, crushing Thrash Metal coupled with Horror lyrics and both done with enthusiasm and conviction.
Musically they sound similar to old Testament and lets face it, that con only be good, listen to the aptly named track “Beware The Thrash Brigade” with its sing a long chorus and more Thrash riffs than you could ever want. The tracks “Nothing Defeats The Skull” and “Graveyard Vandalization” are similarly endowed and just as enticing but its not all mindless Thrash Metal, there is quite a lot going on in there in fact you could say they are a touch Progressive at times, especially during “Destroying The Tyrants”, which comes in 3 parts and all of them very good.
Along with the new Kreator CD this is the best Thrash album of 2009, so far and it gets the Justin Case seal of approval, this deserves to be in your CD collection.
TOTAL PLAYING TIME = 44 mins + 10 SCRORCHING TRACKS