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Appearing as the last flickers of light from the NWOBHM faded over the horizon, this band of rough but tender rockers appeared with some damn fine straight ahead metal on tap. Which really stinks because by ’85 almost nobody was interested in this sort of no frills, hi-quality basic UK metal. Terribly unfashionable, Chariot had made a name for themselves in the clubs of London and issued a prior record in 1984’s The Warrior (good stuff though not as good as this one).
Their sound, kind of like Anvil but with less goofy charm and more song based smarts, was miles away from the thrash metal then in force, but it with ashamed hindsight that one revisits albums like this these days. I admit I didn’t give the blokes the time of day then, but upon acquiring their records years later I began to see the light. Guitarist and singer Pete Franklin spearheads the band, both of his duties being performed with trusty flair. But what really impresses here are the songs, which are uniformly impressive in the workmanlike way they build from basic ingredients to produce classic tunes. “Screams The Night” is particularly ear-grabbing, while “Strangers” and “This Time You Lose” use the band’s tight and snappy rythym section to best advantage.
Melodic but far from sappy, Chariot were true blue and unflinchingly genuine in their mission, which gives even the lesser songs here an impeachable touch of passion. Great stuff, long gone and missed, so start turning over those rocks to grab one.
Chariot – Burning Ambition
Chariot are a great NWOBHM quartet with a genuine feel and some bona-fide sentiment in their music, interspersed with weaker, emotion-lacking moments. This late release can probably be best filed under NWBOHM influenced melodic metal. The riff combinations with the vocals of Franklin make for some very strong comparisons with NWOBHM legends Tank – particularly numbers like the thundering opener ‘Screams the Night’. A powerful sound with that real 1986 melody/power blend – however this is often let down with this offering, with an over-reliance on softer content.
‘Play to Win’ is a slightly weaker moment with a chorus that’s not too effective. I like the Motorhead nod evidenced in the songs poker-heavy subject matter. The riffs in this one are a bit simpler, and there’s less of the standout passion that you can find here and there in other outings from the band. Not your beefiest cut of meat. Much can be said about the track ‘Cradle to the Grave’ –except for it’s stronger vocal passion and slightly more memorable hooks.
Your almost-title-track ‘Burning’ is a largely forgettable foray, featuring an ineffectual central lyric, backed by some guitars that seem to have all the ‘metal’ mixed out of them, in favour of a softer, cuddlier sound evoking imagery of puppy dogs and toilet paper commercials - A blunderous number. By contrast, Strangers’ is an emotional number with a racy pace and some romantic hooks. Again here, your guitars lose that metallic touch – like the taste of iron in blood – something you will find massive overdoses of in the guitars of Savatage, or Armed Force, and for a NWOBHM point of comparison – Blitzkrieg.
Alltogether this albums definitely listenable, with much of it approach the commercial ‘power-ballad’ terrotry, but not quite surrending its NWOBHM heritage, and touches of Tank-like guitar. Your biggest downfalls of this outing are your lame mixing which reverbs the fuck out of everything blurring the guitars into a mushy mess of trampled porridge – for the most part, as well as a perhaps over-reliance on the romantic, driving type song with the evasion of metal to a large degree. Some heartfelt stuff is good; ‘This Time You Lose’ and the opener ‘Screams in the Night’ being permissible examples, while others are sub-par. I wouldn’t recommend this band for those hell-bent-for leather anyway, but this is a particularly weak release – their debut retaining more metal strength.