Released: 2014, Shadow Kingdom Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Australia's CONVENT GUILT specializes in NWOBHM-era style Heavy Metal and on their debut full length album Guns For Hire, they offer eight tracks of unabashed JUDAS PRIEST-SAXON-IRON MAIDEN-TYGERS OF PAN TANG worship. The production aids in recreating a 1980's vibe to the point where listeners can be forgiven for thinking that this album is a re-issue of some obscure band that fell through the cracks during the heyday of Heavy Metal. The band pretty much wear their influences on their sleeves: Singer/ Bassist Ian employs a kind of low key vocal approach reminiscent of many of the era's singers, while guitar riffs follow that straight forward, stripped down approach of early JUDAS PRIEST, BLITZKRIEG and SAXON. Drums alternate between the classic gallop used by early Speed Metal bands and the more straight forward 4/4 drum beats.
While the eight songs found on CONVENT GUILT's Guns for Hire may not offer nothing new, and will probably create a feeling of Déjà vu for fans of NWOBHM, the record does have its good points. The album opens on a pretty weak note with "Angels in Black Leather", a throw-away track with weak vocals and tired ideas, despite the song picking up speed as it goes along. The album starts to pick up with "Don't Close Your Eyes", a nice little number that borrows a bit from JUDAS PRIEST's "Heading Out to the Highway". Despite it being a slower track than the opener, it works better because the vocals sound more inspired than in "Angels". If I were to pick a favorite here, I'd say it's "They Took Her Away", which has an Irish Folk song intro that leads into an epic Heavy Metal riff ala THIN LIZZY's "Emerald". The vocalist adopts a different vocal approach here, which works wonders for the song. It is the most inspired moment on this record in my opinion. A close second would be closer "Stockade", a fast song which I believe should have been used as the album opener. The vocalist sounds different here as well, moving from the whiny tone of the first few tracks, to a style that reminded me of GASKIN songs such as "Burning Alive" and "End of the World".
The first question that comes to mind is why didn't CONVENT GUILT employ the same techniques mentioned in the above paragraph on the rest of the album? It's almost as if the band suddenly hit their stride on these two songs after completing most of the album. It could have benefitted them to stop and analyze what they wanted to do. As it is, Guns for Hire is a scattershot of a record in which the band tries many ideas without a thread to tie them together, despite keeping their style grounded on NWOBHM. It would be good to see what the band can come up with in future albums if they consider taking chances with their sound instead of remaining on safe ground.