June 7, 2014

Mad Max's Wheels of Steel #1

Written by Maxim Björky.

Dearest Metal Bandcamp reader, for some reason the friendly administration of this respectable blog has allowed me to subject you to my musical leanings. Then again, should you find yourself even mildly engaged by what’s scribbled below, then you’ll quickly realize that reason’s got nothing’ to do with it. It’s more about tunes that grab you by the intestines. Balls out heavy metal, touches of glam and power, indulgent harmonies, all these can be found below.

There are so many good bands doing this epic metal thing at the moment that I’m almost certain my self-important millennial brain might be playing tricks on me. Wellington, New Zealand’s Fallen Order released their debut EP, The Age of Kings, earlier this year and along with Stone Dagger, Borrowed Time, and Eternal Champion, they make up a nice cadre of promising Manilla Road protégés.

Singer Hamish Murray has a smooth low-octave range that gives this band a nice backbone but the tight harmonies and rhythm section certainly make his job a lot easier. He can also hit those highs when needed. Can’t wait to see what these guys can do with a slightly more atmospheric studio treatment. In the meantime, throw them a few bones.

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This band makes me want to perm my goatee. Aside from all the obvious differences with the Norwegian folk rock band by the same name, Germany's Vamp is cool because they won't give you seasonal depression. This gem harkens back to its 1989 release, when the band finally seemed on the cusp of cracking the mainstream. Queensrÿche and the Scorpions were regularly playing to tens of thousands; surely they could do it too. Alas, it was not in the cards for these chaps. Some combination of label incompetence and awful luck derailed their dreams of stardom. Though they are no more, The Rich Don’t Rock has potential to send you tumbling down the 80s rabbit hole in a very cool way.

The real cornerstone here is Ricolf Cross' ballsy overdriven riffing. Like many sleazy 80s releases, the bass is too low in the mix (yes, that’s my number one complaint about glam), but everything else makes for a series of punchy, shredding tunes that still somehow always end up being about heartbreak. Combine this “what if” time machine with 15 unreleased demos and it makes this pricey digital release a little more reasonable.

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What Call of the Wild lack in nuance and sophistication, they make up for in sheer intensity and firm traditional values like the belief that there is no musical sequence which couldn't use some wild flurries of lead guitar.

The next thing you might notice is that these guys listen to way too much Powerslave (or, by me, not enough). Where their transitions sometimes falter from overly complex lead-rhythm layering, one gets the sense that they’ll eventually start simplifying the bridge riffs to make room for that sugary, satisfying hook. Still the hooks are there, especially notable in the flash of the title track. In any case, the riffs and vibes never fail. Get this album and defend the faith.

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Blackened thrash, crust, and osdm are next on the bill.

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