Released: 2006, Lifeforce Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Buffalo, New York’s Herod carries the U.S. power metal torch high on their latest release, RICH MAN’S WAR…POOR MAN’S FIGHT. The obvious nods to Iron Maiden are there but I also caught wind of shades of Twisted Sister, Pretty Maids, Jag Panzer and even a few touches of modern rock and thrash. To say that Herod isn’t afraid to mix things up is an understatement and they do so without sounding forced, which is important when throwing such diverse elements into a pot together. Another nice thing about this band is that they forsake the typical dungeons-and-dragons power metal lyrical nonsense. I suppose there is some fantasy element but they never bring out wizards or warriors touting clichéd “sword and steel” crap. Production is a bit rough around the edges but for a band’s second release on a small label, RICH MAN’S WAR…POOR MAN’S FIGHT certainly holds water.
The dual guitar lead-in to “Assimilation” owes a great deal to Iron Maiden and the groovy gallop is nothing beyond the realm of most power metal bands, although Jason Russo’s vocals are not unlike those of Ronnie Atkins from Danish stalwarts, Pretty Maids. Taking a left turn with “All Night,” a modern rock groove underlies a prog-tinged solo and middle section that really caught me off guard. Likewise, the main riff of “One Life To Burn” echoes the great Sunset Strip sleaze rock of bands like L.A. Guns. Getting back into the realm of metal, “Lies and Betrayal” features a slamming double-bass intro from Mike Jeffers that kicks off a glorious galloping rhythm that is packed with punch. The best track here is “The Fire,” which smacks of UNDER THE BLADE-era Twisted Sister, complete with grizzled Dee Snider-like vocals from Russo overtop of sizzling guitarwork from Jesse Benker and Mike DiPasquale. “Broken Promises” is nicely melodic and the chorus really sticks with you, but the highlight is the smoking guitar solo and thrashing breakdown immediately following. “Journey of Creation” follows a similar pattern and the band really lets loose here with a blistering solo exchange/shredfest between Benker and DiPasquale that caps off with a speedy outro.
The god-awful power ballad, “Forever,” sticks out like a sore thumb and while I can understand the band wanting to stretch its legs, the Blind Guardian-like vocal harmonies and melodramatic caterwauling in the chorus couldn’t be further out of place with the rest of the album. These guys rock and should remain rockers. We don’t need another Warrant!
Lifeforce Records seems to have landed itself a winner with Herod and the current U.S. market won’t be an easy one for them to crack but tight, melodic, NWOBHM-influenced riffing, versatile vocals and a punchy rhythm section add up to a 40-minute headbanging journey. RICH MAN’S WAR…POOR MAN’S FIGHT is an album that the denim-and-leather crowd can hold their heads high in purchasing before heading home to bust out the air guitar.
KILLER KUTS: “Assimilation,” “All Night,” “Lies and Betrayal,” “The Fire,” “Broken Promises,” “Journey of Creation”