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Metal Law - Lawbreaker - 75%

Radagast, June 26th, 2009
Written based on this version: 2008, CD, Metal on Metal Records

Released last November, just shy of 2 years on from their debut, Metal Law’s ‘Lawbreaker’ is a similarly sturdy traditional metal affair with a couple of mild new twists to the tried and tested formula.

The CD opens in strange fashion with “Crusaders of light” (after an intro rather gratuitously split onto its own track), defying conventional wisdom to begin on a midtempo, atmospheric epic. It is a great song however, complete with a terrific semi-acoustic bridge/solo section, and the quality means Metal Law just about get away with the audacity of putting what really could be the closing track up front.

It also gives the first indication of one of the most notable and welcome improvements from ‘Night of the wolf’, that the lead guitar has been thoroughly tooled up, the songs now brimming with sumptuous, colourful solos and harmonies. Not that Karsten Degling and Thomas Parchem were any slouches on the debut, but the over-the-top soloing shovelled into every song here eclipses their previous efforts without breaking sweat. The duel on the following track “Right to rock” is pretty exceptional, performed in a complimentary trade-off fashion you don’t hear too often, and gives the song a real boost as the guitarists performances do for the CD as whole. Otherwise, it is very much a continuation of the meat and potatoes style of the first CD, the same Manowar and Running Wild influences worn on the sleeve as it varies between adrenal gallopers and rocking, fist-pumping anthems. ‘Lawbreaker’ is notably shorter than its predecessor however, and is a leaner affair with no stick-out weak songs like the clunking “Positive pain”.

Degling’s vocals also remain unchanged and will still most likely to be a point of contention for some. His gruff style is from the same school as Rock’n’Rolf and Chris Boltendahl (though not as melodic as the former, as ragged as the latter or as good as either) and his performance is no better or worse overall than before. Unfortunately the lyrics written this time have turned up a few words he can’t really pronounce properly, so anyone unimpressed with the notion of listening to songs about surwiving swurd fights might want to give this a body swerve.

Despite the improved consistency, a couple of songs in the 2nd half of the CD are close calls and only the impressive instrumental sections save them from falling flat. Despite starting on a brawny, Manowar-ish riff “Metal law” is weighed down by a very weak chorus, and the idea of using a list of other band names and song titles as the lyrics maybe wouldn’t seem so tawdry if Sabaton hadn’t beaten them to the punch (twice) by a couple of years. Similarly, the closing “Heavy metal is forever”, despite having its heart in the right place, is a little by-the-numbers until they let the music do the talking, and both songs really explode into life when Degling steps away from the microphone and gets on with shredding his guitar instead.

Fortunately, there is a moment of proper inspiration at the penultimate track to pick up the slack for these weaker areas on the 2nd half of the CD. “The caravan” opens on an uplifting melody reminiscent of Armored Saint before charging into an exuberant power metal song with a cracking chorus and some amusingly baffling lyrics. As is standard practice by this point, the lengthy, Helloween-inspired dueling solo section is top-notch and really crowns the song nicely.

It is a little strange to say, but despite the technical improvements and the trimming of the fat from the running time, the overall difference between ‘Lawbreaker’ and its predecessor is negligible. A slight improvement over the debut, it is another well above average offering from these steadfast Berliners – they still haven’t taken the big step up into A-grade heavy metal, but they’re not too far away and are welcome to keep punching out CDs of this quality for as long as they want.

(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)