Released: 2002, Black Leather Records / Nuclear Blast
I am very impressed with the new Pegazus CD, THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN. It’s been a long three-year wait between albums for this great Australian band. The version I have came to me directly from Pegazus guitarist, Johnny Stoj (fully autographed by the band along with a hand written personalized letter no less!) It’s VERY cool that the band is interested in actively promoting themselves in this fashion. After all, their North American label, Nuclear Blast Records, have no plans to release this fine CD because it’s apparently not the style of metal that is in fashion here. That’s sad news indeed because THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN is a definite improvement over their previous release BREAKING THE CHAINS (1999) and is the best I’ve heard from the band!! The copy of the album that I have is the Australian pressing with the color CD and the bonus track (“The Patriot” – piano intro version).
I must mention the glorious artwork found on the cover and inside CD booklet. Some Metal-Rules.com readers will recognize the name, Russ Bennett, as someone who has contributed artwork for our own site and t-shirts! His attention to detail and use of color for the Pegazus cover is astounding being some of the best work that I’ve seen from him. Besides the cover with the winged Pegazus horse being ridden by the headless horseman himself, each individual song has it’s own piece of art next to the lyrics…way cool!
Since the last Pegazus album BREAKING THE CHAINS the band has acquired new vocalist Rob Thompson. His performance on here will completely silence anyone who had doubts about the replacement of the former vocalist. In places, Rob sounds a little like Sebastian Bach (and yes I consider that a very high compliment). I mainly picked this up on the track “Neon Angel” but some similarities do exist elsewhere. THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN was engineered and mixed by Mark McCormack and produced by both Mark and Pegazus guitarist Johnny Stoj. The result is a very crisp and very metal sounding album…standing well above some other bands that perhaps have higher recording budgets.
After a short intro the album opens with the title track “The Headless Horseman.” This is one of the better songs on this album. You’ll get great vocals and plenty of triplet/galloping styled riffs that are reminiscent of classic Iron Maiden. Most songs on here have that galloping feel. Some people call Pegazus power metal, which is not entirely true not unless you consider songs like “The Trooper” power metal ha! This is much more classic heavy metal with a few hints of power metal…and no not power metal with orchestration, this is more gritty, more the basis of heavy metal itself without any “pompous” additions. The track “Nightstalker” is another stand out on here along with the heavy metal anthem styled “A Call To Arms.” The track “The Patriot” is also worth mentioning for it’s very cool vocal melody. This is the kind of song that makes you want to bang your head and pump your fist….too fucking metal!! If you miss metal power ballads, than check out “Spread Your Wings.” It’s actually done well, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like very many ballads. This ballad basically serves as an intro to the speedy “Forever Chasing Rainbows.” The harmony section around the 3-minute mark just before the guitar solo in this one is great, very Maiden styled without sounding like a copy. Fans of Thin Lizzy will love the track “Ballad Of A Thin Man” which is a tribute to the Emerald Isle’s Rocking Renegade, Phil Lynott! The vocals on this one are handled by guitarist Johnny Stoj, and a great job he does! The lyrics are very cool and the sound of the song is also a nod to Thin Lizzy with certain simpler sections of the song reminding me of AC/DC. “Ballad Of A Thin Man” is definitely a track on the album that stands out and I hope Johnny gets do sing at least one track on every album from here on out! The CD ends with the “The Patriot” (piano intro version). It’s the same track as found earlier on the CD except the “soft” section of the song begins with a piano backing the vocals.
All the ingredients for great classic heavy metal are found in this album. Even though this album is not pushing the envelope of what heavy metal is…so what!! When songs are played and written this well and capture the spirit of true metal, how can a die-hard metalhead not love this? If you miss 80’s heavy metal and love classic bands like Priest, Maiden, Manowar, Running Wild, etc. then THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN is a must have.
Official site: http://www.pegazus.net