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It’s pretty common knowledge that Paul Di’Anno’s post-Maiden life was a bit of a mess. Personal turmoils aside – he was involved in a plethora of different projects, many of which were shortlived and suffered publically from lineup changes and other disasters. Paul himself admitted he was conflicted about his musical direction after Maiden – saying that he felt some outside pressure to play metal while he himself was more of a punk at heart – culminating in a variety of projects of varying success and sound. Some stuff was critically panned, while the relatively unknown Battlezone was an awesome project – with a well-executed blend of various influences. The stuff he released under the moniker ‘Di’Anno’ isn’t usually remembered as his best – but I certainly enjoy it.
Anyway; this was Di’Anno’s first release after Maiden (according to my knowledge); coming before the horrible and shortlived Gogmagog, the awesome Battlezone, and prior to the releases under his full name. Here Paul mixes things up a bit, sort of a fusion of softer edged punk and melodic rock, AOR sorta stuff in the same school as Praying Mantis, or fellow NWOBHMers Shogun. ‘Heartuser’ itself is somewhat of an energetic number, but still sits well in the vein of melodic heavy metal/AOR other than anything else. You certainly don’t get any Iron Maiden – if that’s what you were looking for (you shouldn’t have been), or really any NWOBHM – it’s definitely AOR. But it is done well – Paul certainly isn’t a-melodic – he shows some prowess in crafting a massively hooky chorus in this track, and the song sounds very soft, pleasing to the ears and professional. His vocals are top notch and well suited to this softer style, surprisingly after his fierce vocals in Maiden. ‘Road Rat’ continues the American AOR feel – comparisons to Coney Hatch or possibly even the titans of AOR – Night Ranger could be appropriate here. Again we have well crafted melodies, big catchy choruses, great keyboard touches and excellent, crisp production. This one also features nice heavy drums in the latter half – coming through very crisp, with some skillful bits of guitar play.
If going into this expecting Maiden – you’re gonna be pretty disappointed – and write it off as mere soft rock faggery, but you’d be wrong. Coming from someone who enjoys the occasional bit of AOR – when done well, this one sits nicely along side the better examples of the genre. Hell – it bests many efforts. Very catchy, well crafted melodies, and generally great – yet straightforward songs. Di’Anno definitely has worth as a songwritwer – and singer, but he has largely decided to take the softer route with his post-Maiden career. However don’t despair – Battlezone steps things up in the balls department if this is ‘too soft’ for you. I myself, find it enjoyable to listen to – great keyboards and excellent melodies – however it doesn’t top his efforts in Battlezone.