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Halford – Made of Metal

Halford – Made of Metal (2010, Metal God Records)

1. “Undisputed” … 5:17
2. “Fire and Ice” … 2:52
3. “Made of Metal” … 4:01
4. “Speed of Sound” … 4:32
5. “Like There’s No Tomorrow” … 4:20
6. “Till the Day I Die” … 3:50
7. “We Own the Night” … 3:54
8. “Heartless” … 3:38
9. “Hell Razor” … 3:44
10. “Thunder and Lightning” … 5:28
11. “Twenty Five Years” … 7:01
12. “Matador” … 5:39
13. “I Know We Stand a Chance” … 3:51
14. “The Mower” … 4:40

Rob Halford – Vocals
Roy Z – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Mike Davis – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Producer: Roy Z

Ah, this is more like it! The Halford band was one of the best bands to come out of the last decade but a reunited Judas Priest put the group on hold for a long time (even though that didn’t stop Rob from remastering and reissuing the band’s three albums previous ad nauseum). A comeback was made last year in the form of the odd, yet enjoyable¬†Winter Songs but now Halford is back with an album that sounds much more like Resurrection than Crucible and that’s okay by me. Crucible was a bit too angry and heavy to me and lacked hooks. Resurrection on the other hand was one of the my favorite albums from the last decade and Made of Metal (sometimes referred to as Halford IV: Made of Metal) is easily one of the top albums of 2010 in the very least.

I was really looking forward to this album but the album’s first single “The Mower” didn’t thrill me (though I didn’t hate it). Luckily, “Made of Metal” was put online, accompanied by a very cheesy NASCAR-inspired CGI video, and gave me much more optimism for this album. By the way, what’s up with the NASCAR stuff? Even in press releases for the album they would mention the unofficial NASCAR connection with the “Made of Metal” video. There’s no licensing deal that I’m aware of but it seems like like maybe Rob was fishing for one.

As I said earlier, the album isn’t as heavy as Crucible, much of it sounds like the commercial metal that you might’ve heard from Priest during the mid-’80s. “Speed Of Sound” and “We Own The Night” have an obvious commercial flair, “Undisputed” is a lyrically cheesy but still very catchy anthem and “Hell Razor” sounds like late ’70s/early ’80s Judas Priest. On the flip side, “The Mower” is an absolutely brutal metal number in which Halford’s vocals get downright nasty.

Then there’s “Till The Die I Day” which is a surprisingly bluesy outlaw of a rocker that reminds me of something Whitesnake would do and “Thunder and Lightning” has a bit of boogie I didn’t expect from Halford either while “Matador”¬†appropriately has a south of the border feel to it. I really like the variety on this album. The album is similar in sound to Priest, Fight and previous Halford efforts while a song like “I Know We Stand A Chance” brings to mind H.I.M. and other similar sounding goth rock bands.

I knew this album had potential to be good but I also thought it could’ve been a train wreck. Luckily Rob and Roy Z have turned in one of the best albums of the year and Rob’s voice shows no signs of slowing down. A lot of reviews have bashed the lyrics but who cares? It’s good MUSIC! Great album.

Highlights: “Fire And Ice”, “Made Of Metal”, “Like There’s No Tomorrow”, “Till The Day I Die”, “We Own The Night”, “Twenty Five Years”, “I Know We Stand A Chance”

WOLF – Ravenous

Wolf – Ravenous (2009, Century Media Records)

1. “Speed On” … 3:46
2. “Curse You Salem” … 3:54
3. “Voodoo” … 4:19
4. “Hail Caesar” … 3:48
5. “Ravenous” … 3:59
6. “Mr. Twisted” … 3:54
7. “Love At First Bite” … 3:49
8. “Secrets We Keep” … 4:52
9. “Whisky Psycho Hellions” … 4:42
10. “Hiding In Shadows” … 4:20
11.” Blood Angel” … 6:26

Niklas Stalvind – Vocals, Guitar
Johannes Losback – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Anders Modd – Bass
Richard Holmgren – Drums

Producer: Roy Z

Wolf is a Swedish act that more or less plays traditional heavy/power metal as if it were still the 1980s (and all of their album covers SCREAM “low budget label ’80s heavy metal” in a good way). I’ve been familiar with their name for the last few years, but for some reason (probably because of the style of music they play), I thought there were some ’80s act that never made it big. The band’s history actually only goes back to 1995 (with their self-titled debut arriving in 2000), certainly a time when it was anything but cool to be playing traditional heavy metal.

With the thinking that this band didn’t “make it” in the ’80s, at least to the level of underground sensation, I never gave the band much thought the few times I ran across their name. It also only because I have seen Ravenous pop up on a number of “best of 2009” lists that I decided to take a closer look. To my pleasant surprise, I discovered they were a fairly new band and while I liked the samples I heard online, the real clincher was that Roy Z was producing. Roy is one of my favorite producers from the last 10-15 years having worked with Bruce Dickinson, Halford, Judas Priest, Sebastian Bach, Rob Rock and Yngwie Malmsteen. Usually if he’s involved, I know I can expect a solid album.

If I were to compare Wolf to any bands, I’d have to say I hear traces of Judas Priest, old school Helloween, Riot and Dream Evil. Singer Niklas Stalvind certainly has the shrill voice for this style of metal.

Definitely a great album for fans of old school power metal and traditional heavy metal and it would’ve been a contender for my Top 10 of ’09 list had I heard it last year. If I have one gripe it is that some of the songs tend to blend together but there’s more than enough standouts tracks here to make up for it. A very promising band that I’ll have to reach back for to check out their earlier stuff.

Highlights: “Speed On”, “Voodoo”, “Mr. Twisted”, “Love At First Bite”, “Secrets We Keep”, “Whisky Psycho Hellions”

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