Released: 2005, Sonic Age Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
Penetrator reminds me of the sort of cheesy-but-essential bands that wound up on horror movie soundtracks in the 80’s. I’ve always had a soft spot for long-forgotten soundtrack bands (Spectre General/Kick Axe, anyone?), and Penetrator sounds as if they could have been in any one of Jon Mikl-Thor’s bad zombie romps.
Remember cult shit like Cobra, Attila, Predator, and Coven? It wasn’t always great, but it was metal, and it was real. It was always a cool purchase, like finding an obscure Metal Blade release circa 1985 (actually, Predator were on Metal Blade).
The guitars are deep and crunchy, with a perfect amount of distortion to make their simple riffing work. There plods more often than it rips, much like Valkeja—but unlike Valkeja, this band seems to have actual charisma. The vocals are in the mid to high range, somewhere between Dio and Attacker.
Actually, SECOND COMING-era Attacker is a decent musical reference here, especially on “Shock Therapy” and “Adulteress.” From the slick cult value of the near Exciter-worthy opener, “Unleash The Fury,” to the nostalgic retro-rage of the Saxon-inspired “Wheels Of Justice,” Penetrator scratches every vinyl-loving, acid-washed jeans-wearing, hairspray-spritzing itch that one might have. “Muso In a Bottle” is so goddamned fucking 80’s on the chorus that it hurts, though the verses make a handful of 90’s-style concessions. Generally, that’s the formula: vintage 80’s cult metal, with the occasional early 90’s thump when no one’s looking.
This is for fans of obscure 80’s metal fans, and assorted kings of the cut-out bin. It was a sheer delight to listen to, and helped blow out the dust from my old turntable. Modern power metal fans might not really catch on, but older fans of the first wave will want to check this out.