THIS WEEK I'M LISTENING TO...SCREAMER Highway Of Heroes (The Sign Records)
Sweden’s Screamer can be described in two short words – ‘heavy’ and ‘metal’ – and that in a nutshell also defines their fourth full-length outing (although their first for The Sign), ‘Highway Of Heroes’. Unashamed and unabashed, Screamer epitomise the spirit and passion of true Eighties’ metal, and ‘Highway Of Heroes’ continues what appears to be the band’s quest to craft the ultimate raise-your-horns-and-yell album.
There’s much to praise and nothing to dislike here, the band showing off their credentials through nine cuts of prime metal (plus the obligatory brief intro track) spread over a neck-breaking, remorseless thirty-five minutes. Boasting chainsaw riffs, fluid soloing, a rock-solid rhythmic backbone and a clutch of screaming diz-busters ‘Highway Of Heroes’ is the very embodiment of classic heavy metal: every song has been pumped full of steroids and trimmed of excess fat, and the result is an album that’s pugilistic at heart and punchy to the core. If you imagine a melange of Priest, Maiden, Accept and Scorpions channelled under pressure through the conduit of a well-honed rock ‘n’ roll machine that features a larger-than-life vocalist (Andreas Wikström), two riffmasters in Anton Fingal and Dejan Rosic, a freewheeling bassist (Fredrik Svensson Carlström) and a drummer, Henrik Petersson, who hits them hard ‘n’ heavy, then you’ll know where this is coming from. The results are nothing less than spectacular: the ‘Wild Child’-tinged ‘Sacrifice’, the unbelievably catchy ‘Halo’ and the finger-shredding ‘Shadow Hunter’ are just a handful of examples of almost perfect songs, written and honed to perfection by an outfit of immense talent who have drawn their inspiration from – and are happy to repay the debt owed to – those giants of the genre that popularised metal nearly forty years ago.
OK, I freely admit I’d be lying if I said that ‘Highway Of Heroes’ really breaks any new ground, but that’s not the point. What it does, it does extremely well, and it is a truly outstanding release, worthy of a place in any metal fan’s collection. Trust me on this.
© John Tucker October 2019