Released: June, Century Media
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
For a band that’s been around for nearly as long as I have, it’s definitely difficult to keep releasing new material and still sound fresh. That said, these guys have got through almost as many members as Spinal Tap, so that probably has something to do with it. Apparently over 500 guitarists auditioned to play on this album, with a chap called Jake Dreyer (who was born eight years after the band) winning it.
Two other newcomers are Luke Appleton (bass) and Stu Block (vocals). Now, whilst I really do admire Stu’s vocal range, and I really do, I do always find singing with those kind of falsettos a little bit ridiculous. Do you remember that OXO advert from a few years ago about Shepherd’s Pie (if you dont google it and you'll see what I mean)? I had a friend who was obsessed with King Diamond and every time I was drunk with him and it came on I’d start singing ‘shepherd’s pie’ in a falsetto as high as I could. It led to one of the only two times I was forcibly asked to leave Garlic and Shots. I digress.
Fans of the band are in no way going to be disappointed. This has got an epic style opener in the form of ‘Great Heathen Army’. ‘Raven Wing’ is a classic ballad-esque metal anthem, and everyone has crisp, technical playing, that is above all melodic rather than technical for the sake of it. ‘Seven Headed Whore’ is probably my favourite, even though their press release doesn’t claim it to be amongst the songs of metal greatness; if it’s only there as a filler, it’s a bloody good one.
Overall though, it’s a little lacklustre. There’s a heavier sound to the album from previous releases, but not by much, and whilst I’d never call them a one trick pony, it is a bit more of the same. But then, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Especially not if you like your metal to have a shepherd’s pie kind of a feel.