Neat Records...I'll let that sink in a bit, there will be a warm glow going through some of our readership right now. For those that don't know Neat records was one of the seminal NWOBHM labels the label was set up in Newcastle by the owner of Impulse studios David Wood who along with producer Steve Thompson brought Neat to prominence launching the international careers of Venom, Raven, Blitzkrieg and Jaguar all of whom have been cited as influences on the burgeoning Bay Area Thrash scene, Neat was the home too of Persian Risk (Phil Campbell Of Motorhead's original band), White Spirit (Janick Gers band before joining Maiden), Satan, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Avenger and even Wishbone Ash for one album!
Neat was also the home of Warrior a Geordie band (there is also a Warrior from Chesterfield) that became a casualty of NWOBHM, it's been well noted that there were literally hundreds of bands that slipped through the cracks during this time, the bands that survived are known to everyone but there are so many bands that just didn't get out alive. Warrior are in this latter category, after releasing a couple of EP's and a live album they split in 1984 never to be heard from again. That is until 2014 when original guitarist Dave Dawson reformed the band with original singer Eddy Smith Halliday, older and wiser they have capitalised on the revitalised D.I.Y style of releasing records that is much more successful than it was back in the 1980's this reformation has resulted two more EP's a compilation and this their 'debut' album.
Halliday and Dawson have swelled their ranks with Gwaether Bloom on guitar, Elliot Sneddon on drums, and Duncan Emmerson on bass (replaced by William Baxter since the records release) and you can tell that Warrior possibly had a tough break back in the day as Invasion Imminent is a strong record once the piano intro of Metal Fatigue subsides the record opens properly with Trojan Horse which has a immediate riff hooking you in an polishes it off with killer soloing, the tracks on this record are all celebrations of metal, mainly the excellent title track and the bands phoenix-like rebirth see Second Chance and Rise Of The Warriors. The record has great duality with songs that sprint but ones that also stomp like a T-Rex through tar, Black Middens is the album's big stoner riff.
From Halliday's Biff Byford like vocals, through the tough bottom end of Emmerson and Sneddon and the excellent guitar prowess of Dawson and Bloom, Invasion Imminent is similar in style to the most recent Saxon albums digging the old school vein with modern flourishes. I'm digging this record, proper British metal, not big, not clever just heads down rocking, just like it used to be. 7/10
Lich King really should just be called Thrashy McThrashface, from the opening chords it's full on aggression from the first beat, the Massachusetts mob are sort of Overkill playing with Sacred Reich approach to thrash metal sitting in the crossover/classic metal Venn Diagram. The album follows their coverstar and namesake on his continuing adventures with the scum of humans, from the hardcore love-in of Preschool Cesspool, through the anti-authoritarian Our Time To Riot and the creeping Civilization all show Lich King's talent for perfectly acceptable thrash metal, while their humorous use of lyrics similar to but not as zany as our own Lawnmower Deth. If you love a bit of thrash metal with some comical lyrics but built on solid thrash metal backing the Lich King could be for you. 7/10
Blood Divisions: Cardinal One (Metal Blade)
Blood Divisions features David Austin (Nasty Savage) and Ed Aborn (Intersonic Cyber Symphony), with a roster of supporting musicians who are current or former members of bands such as Obituary, Death, Nasty Savage, Six Feet Under, Iced Earth, Sebastian Bach, Deicide, Massacre, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, including Terry Butler and Ken Andrews (Obituary), Ralph Santolla (ex-Deicide, ex-Obituary), Jerry Mortellaro (Diabolic) and Bill Owen (ex-Purgatory).
From those involved you are probably expecting brain smackingly heavy metal but you'd be wrong this album is a bit of horrible mish mash of styles with funeral doom on The Morgue, some dreadful orchestral backed crap that is trying a bit too hard to be Trans Siberian Orchestra as well as three covers, guitarist David Austin is also in Nasty Savage whose track No Sympathy is covered at the end of the record and is actually the best song on the record, the other covers on the album are Hot N Ready by UFO and Top Of The Bill by The Scorpions both of which do little for the original mainly because they are being sung by Chris Jericho (Fozzy) he is no Klaus Meine nor is he Phil Mogg, I'm not saying he's a bad singer he just doesn't cut it when compared to these two.
Why the hell he has chosen to be apart of this project is beyond me but then I think he could do so much more with Fozzy. Cardinal One is a misconceived idea with poor songwriting and badly chosen covers that jar with the rest of the record, it's saved by the professional performances and the final track is strong, if Blood Divisions transformed into a thrash fuelled band they would be excellent however as it stands Cardinal One is just terrible. 2/10