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Turn Your Key! - 77%

DeathRiderDoom, June 22nd, 2009

From the explosion of fast buzzsaw guitars, driving vocal melodies, and general ‘wall of sound’ approach of the opening track ‘Warhead’ – you know you’re instore for some raucous, hard rockin’ and fun NWOBHM in this one. More has an interesting sound – the speed and nastiness of Tank riffs, a very slight touch of the evil riffage of Angel Witch or Sabbath, the 70’s rock retention of many other NWOBHM acts, but a focus on catchy melodies thrown in the mix – something they do better than many of their contemporaries. As you may already know – More had major label support, something that eluded many bands from the era – and here it shows, professionalism in the songs, as well as a solid, crisp mix – benefits this LP well. Incidentally, I didn’t realize our vocalist ‘Paul Mario Day’ had a stint with NWOBHMers ‘Wildfire’ who – now that I think about it sound very similar to these guys. In any case, what we have here is a band with some decent heaviness, and even some ever-so-slight evil undertones, yet with prominent major label influence coming through; clean sound, with catchy melodies and production effects (see the almost doomy number ‘Lord of Twilight’ too see this blend at work).

Anyway, I guess for points of comparison – we could cite Witchfynde. Witchfynde also had some label success – for a time riding the crest of the movement; in addition there is based on a similar approach – gloomy, wannabe epic scariness (almost pseudo-doomness at times) smattered throughout what is primarily energetic, catchy 70’s rock. Heavier parts can be found in the album – and speed, but never abandons those strong vocal hooks. ‘Way of the World’ rocks almost as hard as Riot at the same period. Simple power chords, screaming high shrieks, rockin out, biker style leads make up 70% of a track of which the main focus is the gentle melodic vocal delivery of “Well I know, the way of the world…” In the last verse, the attitude picks up a bit, and Paul Mario Day sounds a bit like Di’Anno – with a certain London gruffness coming through. Either way, if Atlantic wanted to take a heavy band and stir it up with commercially acceptable power melodies – that’s what they get with album. Tracks like ‘Warhead’ – a very metal number – even retain this same stylistic approach.

Let’s talk ‘Warhead’ anyway. Pretty much that NWOBHM proto thrash thing going on here. Definitely large traces of metal to be found in this one, fast crunchy riffage – and the nuclear war lyrics to boot; something we all know became a staple feature of songs in the thrash metal years. Am I wrong? One of my favorite cuts along with the excellently done ‘Fire’ .Another heavy cut which kicks total ass totally simplistic, catchy riffage intertwined with excellent vocal catchiness. Apart from one of the most cliché and annoying lyrics in the middle section before the guitar lead “youv’e been living like a little girl – in the middle of your little world” – hate that rhyme. It’s just so generic, and musta been done a hundred times, even 30 years ago. Anyway, your chorus vocal redeems it, with the tough and effective “Fire! I’ll take you to buuuuuurn!” – excellent – and it WILL be getting stuck in your head – believe me. This one with its mixture of riffage and catchy chorus melodies is definitely likely to draw comparisons to Samson.

The rest of the album offers some strong tracks, but as a whole there’s something holding it back from being an absolute top 20 NWOBHM album. I’ve been trying to put my finger on just what it is for some time. I’ve had this one a fair while and spun it a lot. I’m drawn to it’s catchiness, but there’s definitely toughness in the riffs. But I guess the main points are that the songs all sound somewhat similar. Riff patterns between the Samson-ish ‘Depression’, ‘Warhead’ and ‘I Have No Answers’ could be swapped around and noone would really notice. Perhaps the guitar writing skills of the band aren’t too great? Sure – there are some cool riffs – but not the real awesome, more technical stuff you get in other bands. The most interesting parts in guitar come probably near the end of ‘ I Have No Answers’ or maybe the lead in ‘Soldier’ – but it’s no Jimmy Page effort. Guitar leads in this one are also less than awesome – simplistic and monotonous I guess you could say. They seem to be mixed flat – not really ‘jumping out’. Aside from that – the albums good. A strong mixture of heavy riffs and great poppy melodies (these being perhaps best evidenced in ‘We are the Band’). Some cool bass comes out from time to time – really mathematically sitting well with the strong guitar/vocal formulas. Highlights are definitely the Thin Lizzy-ish ‘We are the Band’, ‘Fire’ and the energetic title track.

I would have no problem recommending this offering – particularly if you like Samson, Wildfire & Witchfynde. Perhaps a bit more diversity in the songs, and some more inventive riffage here and there, and we might have a classic. A bit more nastiness couldn’t hurt either – but that’s probably not how Atlantic saw it. Poppy or not – this slays wannabe NWOBHM acts like Snowblind and Chinatown – and of course the AOR Praying Mantis and Clientelle. Either way you’ll hear the major label influence coming through in this one. Besides the bands actual sound per se – drums are far to the rear, and minimal – not the crashing and smashing approach found elsewhere – also there’s a weird compressed softness to the vocals, while guitars are pretty clean also. Really that’s no problem though. Classic NWOBHM here, if not a little unsuited to the albums proto-thrash moniker.

-DeathRiderDoom