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Ruthless are one of those classic US power metal bands that seemed to stick to a more traditional route, rather than some bands like Liege Lord that would take a more epic and mysterious approach to the developing genre. Rather than comparing this to the likes of Omen, Liege Lord, Helstar, Griffin, and so forth, I'd say this is more along the lines of Jag Panzer's Ample Destruction, Cities' Annihilation Absolute, and Stormtrooper's Armies of The Night EP, to name a few. This is pretty straightforward stuff but still with a nice amount of quality. Not quite over the top and filled with majestic atmospheres or anything, but still heavier than regular heavy metal bands, while also not falling into the thrash explosion at the time.
Vocals are really comparable to Cities but not quite as tough as Stormtroopers. Don't expect shrieking here, instead vocalist Sami De John has a more rough tone to his voice and usually sticks within the mid-ranges. You could also say the vocals here are pretty similar to J.D. Kimball's singing on Omen's early material, though De John sings a bit faster and has a slightly more simplistic singing style. In the end he sounds perfect for this kind of style and is a nice highlight here. Along with this another major plus here is the production, everything is really damn heavy here. The drums are pretty thunderous and stand out a lot, while the guitars sound great, pretty thick while still containing that metallic edge. The bass unfortunately seems a little more hidden than the rest of the band, but it does pop up from some corners here and there. The production is just all around great and heavier than some of the bands previously mentioned.
Overall there's a handful of great tracks here, while some don't tend to stand out much on their own this is kind of one of those "whole package" deals. It's an album you can listen to all the way through pretty easily and it's easy to notice they were consistent with their style and sound. For the most part the songs usually vary between fast and mid-paced, with the faster ones tending to stick out more for me (would you have guessed?) Right off the bat this chunk of metal sparks off with Discipline of Steel, here I think you can determine whether or not you'll like the vocals and well, pretty much the whole album perhaps. It's one of the faster numbers that gets pretty intense towards the end. Ancient Warrior slows things down a bit and with a track title like that you'll probably expect something a little majestic, towards the middle it's got some pretty cool leads and some odd solo's at the end. It's kind of epic, I guess. Know No Evil stomps away with one of the most memorable choruses on the album while Look Out keeps the train rolling. Then you hit Sign Of The Cross that has a drawn out intro with some acoustic guitars while the bomb starts ticking - a minute in and BOOM, easily the best song they probably ever came up with. Everything works on this song, the drums are constantly impressive and fast, vocals are timed and sung perfectly, the chorus is epic, riffs and rhythm's slaying things all over. It's just one of those tracks that'll trample down your house or wherever you might be while listening to it. The quality continues until the end with Another Day In Hell sounding like something that could've appeared on Running Wild's hellish debut, Raiders Of The Night is another more epic highlight, while Hardcore doesn't do much but the closer Run For Your Life stampedes away and really is a little scary! Okay, not really but it's another highlight.
All in all, this is a pretty fun and entertaining classic US power metal album from a band that probably had potential to go a little further. Really easy to get into I'd say, if you're a fan of 80's metal and heavier stuff like this. If you're a fan of some the bands I mentioned above I'd definitely recommend giving this a spin. Nowhere near being anything groundbreaking, but they were definitely consistent with who they were.
Note: Interestingly enough though, I have to say their previous EP before this is a little tougher and actually sounds more developed, over the top, the mix and production even sounds thicker, it's more vile (including Sami De John's vocals), etc. If I get around to that one I'd probably give it a slightly higher rating than this. Either way, they both go together very well.