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As of late I've been on a (must be) Fenriz inspired quest for old, forgotten metal. This journey has led me to many great albums I've truly never heard of. Bands like Toxik, Scanner, Realm, and Paradox. Bands no average metal head has heard of or even knew existed. I'm guilty of this as well, but boy am I glad I corrected this problem because there are some really classy metal albums out there that criminally get overlooked. Warrior's Fighting For The Earth is one of those albums.
Admittedly, this is possibly the weakest of the previously mentioned bunch. However that does not stop this from rocking to hell and back.
The opener and also title track is a no frills rocker that never fails to get your head moving. Steady riffs propel this song into memory. Ruler also has a nice NWOBHM vibe and rocks obscenely hard. Mind Over Matter starts out great, you're banging your head still from Ruler at this point and the beginning of Mind Over Matter certainly doesn't make you want to stop. All is not well in the world of Warrior, as mid way through Mind Over Matter you're at the "Meh" stage and will skip the song. The rest of the album stays in that mid range kind of rocking/kind of boring stage. This isn't really a bad thing, just don't expect any progression or crazy riffing you'd get from the bands mentioned at the beginning of this review.
Bottom Line: This is akin to a Big Mac meal at McDonald's, It's not breaking any new ground, you're used to it, it's comfortable, but that doesn't stop it from being absolutely delicious and worth every penny.
There's blue collar USPM, there's white collar USPM, and there's some that's in between, but then there's this phantom third category that isn't really related to either, but nonetheless fits somewhere into the scene. You know what I'm talking about, the kind that's clearly not heavy metal anymore, but still retains some of the American rock elements reminiscent of early Riot and Manowar. It's not aggressive or fast enough for blue collar either, but still much too upbeat and simple for white collar. Surely you must've heard of Savatage and Vicious Rumors? Well, their early material shows exactly what I mean; Warrior are a lesser-known but no less apt example of that style.
The first thing you'll probably notice about Warrior (and indeed, about most bands of this style) is the charismatic singer. Perry McCarty just has one of those classic voices that screams "metal" (even when he's not actually screaming). He's powerful and classy as he hits both high notes and low with skill to spare; but he's gritty and aggressive at the same time, as if he just hopped off a Harley Davidson and strode into a bar looking for a fight (you can bet that if McCarty gives some square the finger that he won't look again, no he won't). Just listen to that half-shrieking, half-snarling edge he puts in his voice as he grates out the verses to "Ruler"! OBLITERATED BY THE UNDERLYING MINDS! Perhaps unsurprisingly he's comparable to a combination of Jon Oliva and Carl Albert; more of the range of the latter, with the tone and grit of the former. Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot is close too, and if you've heard Grudge, imagine Richard Shayka after some singing lessons. Still, Perry McCarty is his own man, and you'll only hear echoes of a lot of other metal singers in him (Dio, for another example) because he gets pretty close to an ideal that many were striving for. He moans, he snarls, he shrieks, yet he keeps the violence and emotion from getting out of control and still hits the notes; honestly, for this style there's not much more one could hope for. The riffs on the other hand are generally quite simple, but they often show a subtle complexity that betrays the calculated design behind that simplicity. Note for instance the interplay between the guitars on the title track; what class, what craft, what polish! Warrior know how less can be more, and capitalize on that knowledge.
The album tells some kind of cornball sci-fi story full of aliens, robots, psychic powers, conspiracies, and the apocalypse, but they don't take it too seriously; it reminds me of the original Star Wars or Indiana Jones movies, in that the music and lyrics are serious and epic in parts but aren't above having fun or a sense of humor in others. Just listen to "Mind over Matter" and pay attention to the delivery of the verses: "Time over mind over matter of time/Releases the toxins of power...from my mind!!" He sings the last bit with such an excessively excited tone, as if he's a kid who just discovered Santa Claus is real after all and in fact lives next door; it puts a big grin on my face every time I hear it, and I'm sure this was intentional. Maybe this ability to have a little fun is why Warrior are able to take elements power metal bands are notorious for botching, like keyboards and spoken parts, and make them work. Just listen to McCarty's hilarious overacting on "PTM1", the short spoken track before the finale, and though less obvious there are similar instances of exaggeration strewn throughout the album. When you laugh while listening to Fighting for the Earth, it's with Warrior, not at them.
However, don't let that last paragraph fool you into thinking this is a joke band and only good for a laugh, because the fun songs are still musically sound, and they're balanced out by some quite moody ones. "Cold Fire", the ballad of the album, starts out with some rather unconventional melodies and is quite dark and nightmarish on the whole; no silliness to be found, and it still kicks ass. Plus, they know how to have the heavy parts alternate with the softer sections, which of course is an essential tenet of the quality power ballad. The rest of the songs are all quite good, and stay right around the mid-length, never shorter than three minutes or longer than six, so they don't stick around long enough to bore. Like Ben Franklin said, simple power metal songs stink in three days, so it's best to keep them short.
One thing that prevents Fighting for the Earth from scoring higher is that it sometimes focuses too much on fun at the expense of lasting worth; while the title track, "Ruler", and "Cold Fire" are definitely memorable, "Day of the Evil" is entertaining but doesn't leave much of an impression on me, "Welcome Aboard" has an almost pop-like mentality, and "Mind over Matter" seems a case of style over substance. Still, Warrior clearly aren't pretending this album is a deeply moving emotional masterpiece, and how can you really fault them for not achieving something they don't even attempt? What it is, though, is a whole fuckload of fun, and anyone who enjoys fun along with the more traditional styles of metal should be able to have a good time listening to this.
Yes Warrior's Fighting for the Earth may be about small green men, or as another theory says about small Jewish men. It doesn't really matter when the music is this great. On the base of some solid traditional riffage, Warrior pumps energy and power throughout the entire record, which is further enhanced with very classy vocals, powerful and somewhat gritty.
The title song sets the standard from the very start. The gritty voice is mixed with the high-pitched all along the pumping riffs and drums. Those high-pitched screams are some of the best of its sort, classy indeed. The riffs sound like two guitarists dueling, which adds a suggestive side to it, even in the slow part, with the unnecessary, sick, scrabbled vocals. The keyboards are there too, creating a background atmosphere - but only at times. Very tasteful. The 80's bands knew better how to use this kind of instruments!
The album is supposedly space-themed, which is mirrored both in lyrics and music. At one point of Only the Strong Survive they play with volumes and channels, producing with their guitars, a sound like if a fast, low-altitude space ship flew right over one's head. Next song: Ruler. What an amazing song! It's a thrasher, or at least a proto-thrasher. There's a text on the opening riff, in big letters reading T-H-R-A-S-H. And even after the opening riff, more and more cool riffs follow. What's special though, is that the riffs are mixed perfectly with the keyboards. The way they co-operate, taking different ends of the sonic spectrum, transcending into each other never ceases to amaze and impress me. The vocals are the grittiest and most aggressive on the album, and yeah, it's a superb song.
Mind over Matter is fast, but only decent. The opening and the main riff manage to interest, but it never gets anywhere and turns out to be a rather boring song. Defenders of Creation, however, is a dramatic little piece, starting with clean guitars going like circles on the water. It also has the best vocals on the record, more clean than before, with more range and less flaws than before, hitting every note. Then the song gets heavy and turns into a magnificent heavy metal anthem. There's just a short disappointment in the calmer part they've thrown in, just like in the title song. The solos aren't too kickass, but the riffs are. We're quickly back on track, so it's not too big a disturbance.
Not as great as the songs before, Day of the Evil still presents some interesting guitars, especially the laser-esque following the bomb detonations of the beginning. Put in context with the other songs, it's filler. Isolated it's very decent. Cold Fire is different. It starts out like a sub pop song, with just slightly too outspoken guitars. It gets a little darker after a while, though.
Cold Fire is the calm song of the album, you always need one. It refrains from becoming neither a ballad nor an instrumental. Emotional and suggestive guitars and tempo shifts make for a good, however not too metal, song. Next track is one long spoken intro - bah. Welcome Aboard has vocals that sound like Iron Maiden. It's a happy closer, with good but not the top-notch guitars. It lacks the thrashy power that the first songs held. But that's the LP format for you; the first side is always the better.
Worth getting? For sure. I'd pay a lot for the riffs alone.