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Frantic, headbanging madness! - 90%

Empyreal, May 24th, 2007

Oz was a rather unknown Finnish band from the 80s, who released five albums before splitting up, and this was apparently their best. It's stripped down, catchy, and energetic heavy metal of the old school style, similar to some NWOBHM bands and perhaps some of the US power metal outfits, and it's really rather hard to classify or compare to other bands. I hear a definite Maiden influence in the faster songs, and some obvious Black Sabbath. The whole thing is wrapped up in a heavy, hard-hitting production that's great to headbang to. Oz have created here a very satisfying and powerful heavy metal album that should quench most 80s metal fans' thirst for more goodness.

The vocalist doesn't really sound like anybody else I've ever heard, with a distinct bounce and energy to his deep bellow that gives him a very distinct style and sound. His choruses are very catchy, as are the bludgeoning, hyperfast riffs that hit you like bullets from a machine gun in almost every song here, along with the drums, which hit equally as hard. The songs are mostly very fast paced and headbangable, almost to the point of sacrificing melody for riffage and sounding chaotic, but of course it doesn't. It's rather tiring to listen to after a while, actually, because this album never really lets up on the speed and riffs, save for one song, the mystical, occult "Black Candles." It's got a spellbinding vocal preformance and actually lets up on the riffs for some nice atmosphere parts. Very evil in the old Mercyful Fate sense, and a nice fucking song. Other standouts include the melodic and catchy "Free Me, Leave Me", the furious riff barrage of the opener "Search Lights", and the closing title track, which is the catchiest song here. But hell, every song here is essential, naming standouts is just a waste of energy.

One thing I must mention about this disc is how fucking hyperactive it is, as I stated above. This disc never lets up, not throughout it's whole 27 minute runtime. I would complain about it being so short, but if this were much longer, there'd be people in dire need of a chiropractor after listening. This might not be as fast as your Hibria and DragonForce, but what it does pack is an arsenal of frantic, maniacal riffs that send me into a headbanging frenzy as soon as I hear them, no matter how bored I am of them. The band must've been on some kind of euphoriating high when writing these, because the most interesting characteristic of this album is just the fact that it keeps coming at you, like a wild animal on the prowl. It doesn't back down, go soft, or give you any leeway. The songs are short because they don't need to be longer, because making them longer would make them dull and trite, and thus the short running time of the disc is acceptable.

This is a very fun, catchy, and short disc of above-average 80s heavy metal, and anyone can enjoy this kind of stuff. I don't know how easy it will be to find, but you'd do well to check it out if you come across it. Recommended.