Pittsburgh metallers Aftershok originally formed as a creative outlet for Shok Paris vocalist Vic Hix during that band’s downtime. Although their output has been intermittent at best their previous album, 2005’s BURNING CHROME was an excellent exercise in pure American heavy metal. Sadly, all went quiet after that release and Hix went back to Shok Paris, leaving Aftershok in the hands of guitarist and principle song writer George Mihalovich and drummer George Borden. It may have taken the duo a decade but they are finally back with the third Aftershok album, the aptly named DETONATE.
As soon as “Enter the Dark” hit, it’s clear that changes are afoot. The song shows a clear shift towards a European power metal-influenced style, similar in vein to Primal Fear. Then again, that could just be the vocals of Canadian Gord Sheffroth. What a powerhouse! Residing in the Halford/Owens/Scheepers school of metal vocals, Sheffroth absolutely slays throughout the album, putting in a spectacular performance. It couldn’t have been easy to find the right voice to replace Hix, but Sheffroth is for real. Amazingly, the guy has no documented recording credits to his name! What a find.
As for the music, DETONATE is definitely heavier than the band’s previous work, more metal and less rock. Whether it’s pounding mid-paced material like “When the Shadows Fall”, high speed melodicism like “Hang ‘em High”, or the obligatory ode to metal (“Forever in Metal”), Aftershok just knocks it out of the park. Each member sounds flawless; I already gushed about the vocals, but Borden’s drumming is rock solid and Mihalovich’s fiery guitar work proves he is an underrated talent.
It’s a cliché to say that DETONATE is an explosive album…except for the fact that it is! One listen to it and I already pegged it to be on my Top 20 list of 2016, and it’s only rising the more I listen to it. Awesome stuff; I really hope the band keeps this momentum going; a decade between releases is too long.
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