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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Reviews: Helloween, Enforcer, Hatriot

Helloween: Straight Out Of Hell (Spinefarm)

German Power Metal originators are now on their 14th album and this one follows on from previous effort 7 Sinners however this has a noticeably lighter mood than the aggressive almost thrashy predecessor. Musically it harks back to Helloween's early Andi Deris albums full of founder member Michael Weikath's trademark Power Metal riffage, things kick off with the Eastern influenced and progressive Nabataea before the classic speed metal chug of World Of War takes you back to the Teutonic glory days full of glorious guitar solos from Weikath and Sascha Gerstner who both play for their lives as does bassist Markus Grosskopf and drummer Daniel Lobe. Live Now has an almost Bon Joviesque vibe to it with lots of talk-box and a huge hooky chorus. This is one of the strongest albums Helloween have produced in the Deris era and they have achieved it by merging their last to albums with some big keys on Far From The Stars and also a massive organ riff on the special version of Burning Sun (dedicated to Jon Lord). Deris himself is now fully installed as the frontman of Helloween and is on his best form in years on this album his vocals are still much grittier than Michael Kiskes but he can hit the high notes and his voice is now so familiar at the helm of the power metal masters not only suited to the speedy metal assault of the euphoric title track but also on big ballads like Hold Me In Your Arms. This is not just a great Helloween album (the best since Master Of The Rings) but is also a great metal album in general. 8/10

Enforcer: Death By Fire (Nuclear Blast)

Third album from the band I consider to be one of the top bands in the NWOTHM Enforcer and it's a case of if it ain’t broke don't fix it. Olof Wikstrand's vocals still soar and shriek like an air raid siren and his and Joseph Tholl's guitar interplay is classic speed metal. This is a strictly retro affair with 8 (full) tracks of leather trousered, white sneaker wearing heavy metal straight out of the Priest and Maiden play book however if there was one band that Enforcer sound most like it's 80's nearly men Tokyo Blade. This album is slightly weaker than their previous (and more well-rounded) effort however, the riffs are razor-sharp, the drums are a barrage and the bass gallops like a horse on amphetamines! From Death Rides This Night to Satan the pace doesn't let up with solos and dual riffs galore especially on the instrumental Crystal Suite. This isn't a game changing album it will not convert anyone that hates this retro style metal, however it is a very well distilled example of why so many people love it. It is fast, frenetic and most of all fun, Enforcer are still very near the top with this third effort, so grab some mates, get your High Tops on and rock like it's 1982! 7/10

Hatriot: Heroes Of Origin (Massacre)

Hatriot are a thrash metal band from Oakland California and play classic American thrash in much like the second wave of thrashers like Testament, Forbidden, Overkill and Exodus. The Exodus comparison is particularly apt as the band is fronted by their former frontman Steve 'Zetro' Souza who's snarl is still as unmistakeable as ever. The rest of the band are a bunch of young guns with two guitarists bringing the tight neck snapping riffage and blistering solo's on tracks like Weapons Of Class Destruction and Murder American Style. One of the keys to the band's aggressive sound is the rhythm section, which also provides the answer to why Zetro is singing for an unknown band, the bassist and drummer are Cody and Nick Souza respectively sons of the vocalist. This is a shrewd move for the band as they have been immediately signed to Thrash label Massacre. However there is no need to be cynical as on the evidence of this album they have not be signed purely because of this reason, Hatriot have created an album of brutal thrash that will get many a pit to open very wide. 7/10


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