Reviews Round-Up November 2022
• LEATHERWOLF – ‘Kill The Hunted’
• EPICA – ‘The Alchemy Project’
• U.D.O. – ‘The Legacy’
• LEATHER – ‘We Are The Chosen’
Most fans will remember LEATHERWOLF, the US five-piece whose triple-guitar attack and 1984 independently-released debut album brought them to the attention of Island Records. ‘Leatherwolf’ (1987) and ‘Street Ready’ (1989) followed, and despite the quality of the band’s material the bean counters weren’t happy about units shifted and they were dropped. Over the years there have been several attempts to reboot the band, but none have been so exciting and so consistently heavy-hitting as ‘Kill The Hunted’ (Rock Of Ages Records, 11 November). From the opening blast of ‘Hit The Dirt’ – check out the extended closing solo! – to the dying chords of ‘Enslaved’ ‘Kill The Hunted’ is a thoroughbred from the finest stable, proving that the band have not lost their flair for melody and hooks. And although only drummer and producer Dean Roberts exists from the heady days of the Eighties, all credit to him for keeping the flag flying. Great band, great album, and, in Keith Adamiack, great singer too. As Oliver Twist nearly said, “please, sir, can we have some more...”
‘Kill The Hunted’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-c2eIwXdwE
‘The Henchman’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9LoCaOvOjA
‘Hit The Dirt’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhsNAMJFN-Q
EPICA are quite happy to go off-piste every once in a while (‘Epica Vs Attack On Titan’, for example) and although their seven-track EP ‘The Alchemy Project’ (Atomic Fire, 11 November 2022) starts in truly bombastic symphonic metal fashion with ‘The Great Tribulation’ the twist in the tale here is that the cuts are all collaborations of one sort or another. The aforementioned opener features Fleshgod Apocalypse, and then after that the likes of Charlotte Wessels and Myrkur (‘Sirens – Of Blood And Water’) and Björn ‘Speed’ Strid and Frank Schiphorst (‘Death Is Not The End’) contribute their individual talents to the material. ‘Wake The World’ features guest keyboards by Uriah Heep’s Phil Lanzon and vocals from Kamelot’s Tommy Karevik, while the epic closer ‘The Miner’ is brought to fruition with assistance from Asim Searah, Niilo Sevänen and Roel van Helden from Damnation Plan, Insomnium and Powerwolf respectively. My personal favourite though remains ‘The Final Lullaby’, the buoyant speedfreak trailered at Epica’s recent celebratory live show from Tilburg which, driven along by the vocals and saxophone of Shining, shows how far Epica are willing to go to break out their conform zone. Marketed as an EP, ‘The Alchemy Project’ clocks in at just thirty-six minutes – which is a great shame as, like a single Jammie Dodger, it leaves you wanting more – but, hell, it’s still longer than the average Seventies’ KISS LP. Absolutely fabulous.
‘The Final Lullaby’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiJ5r8cNiq8
‘Sirens – Of Blood And Water’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svGQ-q9gx68
It’s hard to argue with a label biography when it points out that “it’s simply an impossible task to compile a double CD of material and satisfy everyone, but ‘The Legacy’ is by far the most extensive retrospective the band have ever released...” The band in question is U.D.O., founded 35 years ago – half his lifetime, in fact – by ex-Accept frontman Udo Dirkscheider, a man so metal that if you cut him in half the word would run though him like a stick of rock. ‘The Legacy’ (AFM Records, 18 November) serves up thirty-three classy cuts drawn from right across the band’s back catalogue and including four rarer tracks in ‘Wilder Life’, ‘What A Hell Of A Night’, ‘Falling Angels’ and ‘Dust And Rust’. Boasting the likes of ‘Dominator’, ‘Man And Machine’, ‘They Want War’ and the semi-autobiographical ‘Metal Never Dies’, and also available as a 4LP set (without losing any of the songs), ‘The Legacy’ is a substantial and comprehensive compilation of one of the best exponents of traditional Teutonic metal, and surely a worthwhile addition to anyone’s letter to Santa. But, what, no ‘Animal House’? Ah well, as they said, you can’t please everyone...
‘Wilder Life’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy5u_PEF4Pc
‘Metal Never Dies’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv29zn_gXY8
Most metal fans probably came across LEATHER LEONE from her work fronting David T. Chastain’s self-titled band back in the mid-Eighties. The singer known to her school chums as Catherine released her first solo album ‘Shock Waves’ in 1989, and then things all went rather quiet until new Chastain albums started to appear over the last ten years or so. Her second solo release ‘Leather II’ appeared in 2018, and if that was a rather patchy affair she’s certainly come up trumps this time. ‘We Are The Chosen’ (Steamhammer / SPV, 25 November 2022) is a victory parade of gloriously traditional metal anthems, well-penned and played to perfection, and guitarist Vinnie Tex certainly earns his keep across the album’s ten cuts (check out his work in ‘Hallowed Ground’). Opener ‘We Take Back Control’ and the title track with its lush atmospheric backing take top honours, but there’s not a bad song on offer here. ‘We Are The Chosen’ is an album of many faces and great depth, with much to enjoy. Trust me on this.
‘We Take Back Control’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RjLfSH9_0U&t=4s
© John Tucker November 2022