Released: 2010, AFM Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
For those not in the know, Ross "The Boss" Friedman was a co-founding member of "The Kings of Metal" Manowar as prophesied in the title track off of Manowar's "Battle Hymns" with the lyrics "We met on English ground, In a backstage room we heard the sound, And we all knew what we had to do". Legend has it that Ross met Joey DeMaio during a tour for the Dio fronted Black Sabbath where Ross was performing with Shakin Street, the tours opening act. Joey was working as a crew member for Sabbath and the two eventually became friends after being introduced by the immortal Ronnie James Dio, who had remembered the young six stringer from his previous band The Dictators, in a partnership that would go on to spawn America's most celebrated traditional heavy metal band. To think that Dio played a large part in the formation of Manowar only begs the question "Is there anything the late, great RJD couldn't do?" Of course, the answer is no.
I would go as far as to make a case for Ross' importance in the world of heavy metal is akin to Ace Frehley's vast reach on the hard rock platform. The first six Manowar albums have stood the test of time and insured Ross a legacy of being the classic Manowar six stringer, the guitarist who played on all of the band's most treasured recorded output and much like "Space" Ace Frehley will always be remembered as the defining guitarist of KISS, Ross has remained equally revered in heavy metal circles.
HAILSTORM follows on the success of the 2008 debut record "New Metal Leader". The very essence of early to mid Manowar is apparent right off the bat on lead-off intro track "I.A.G." this is traditional heavy metal the way it should be played. "Dead Man's Curve" is a heavy earthshaking metal anthem, with driving energy and a pulsing backline.
On the album's title track "Hailstorm" Ross delivers his trademark face-melting guitar melodies and solo's like nobody's business. The vocal phrasing and delivery of lead singer Patrick Fuchs on HAILSTORM is very similar to that of a young Eric Adams, everything about this release seems to recall the classic Manowar sound.
"Crom" is plodding and doomy epic battle metal with a fantastic vocal performance from Patrick Fuchs, whose multi-layered approach adds a wall of harmonies to Ross' riffs.
The instrumental track "Great Gods Glorious" is filled to the brim with riff after glorious riff and six string pyrotechnics. "Among The Ruins" begins with vocals, piano, and a cello, sounding very ballad like in structure before picking up in terms of tempo and overall heaviness come chorus time. "Empire's Anthem" closes the disc, this track begins with a short intro piece that recalls the title track from "Battle Hymns" before marching onward with an epic bombast, the incorporation of choirs and more killer riffage from Ross.
If you are a fan of classic Manowar or epic heavy metal in general, you would do well to pick up HAILSTORM. Hopefully this disc will result in enough attention to warrant a long overdue world tour. All Hail Ross "The Boss"!