Reviewed: March 2019
Released: 2019, AFM Records
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
Former Accept guitarist Herman Frank has been on a bit of a roll recently. He went solo in 2008, and since then has released a trio of well-received slabs of solid classic metal: Loyal to None (2009), Right in the Guys (2012) and The Devil Rides Out (2016). Now comes #4, Fight the Fear.
In general style, not much has changed. This is still firmly rooted in the old-school heavy metal approach, hard rocking and totally unashamed of what it is. The attitude is definitely there, but alas, the delivery is somewhat lacking.
If you’ve listened to any of Herr Frank’s past material, you know what to expect. Like Saxon, Pretty Maids or U.D.O., this is balls-out, rough ‘n’ ready, rocking heavy metal, with just enough of an ear for melody. It certainly harks back to the good old days, but while there were plenty of classic albums chock full of winners back in the 80s, there were also plenty of more middle-of-the-road offerings. The ones that don’t get brought up so much, because they weren’t band-defining classics, but nor were they wild departures and failed experiments. They just…were.
That, alas, is more the category Fight the Fear falls into. It just…is. It’s traditional heavy metal, but for the most part, that’s all it is. It’s not bad by any means, there’s just very little that stands out. That said, “Fear” is one track that does stand proud and true. A Judas Priest-ian, blistering, razor sharp assault that layers itself perfectly, one of those classic metal tracks that knows just when to apply every part of itself.
“Wings of Destiny” follows along the same line (almost too much; when the two songs play one after the other when the album is on shuffle, it really highlights how alike they are), and I appreciate the lyrical direction here, the encouragement to abandon the shackles of religious dogma. “Hail and Row” has an appropriately rhythmic pace, like a heavy metal rowing chant.
These aside though, most of the songs just do their job competently without adding much beyond that. The album as a whole also could do with some trimming: it’s 13 songs, and almost half of them exceed the 5 minute mark, which seems a bit much for this style of (usually) punchy music.
To reiterate, Fight the Fear is certainly not a bad album. It’s neither especially good nor bad, which leans towards the side of disappointment in light of the artist’s recent successes. Though if you’re an existing fan of either his work or simply of no-frills classic metal, this one is at least worth a listen.