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Before Judas Priest and the Judas Priest tribute band, Tim Owens was just another man in a band; that group being Akron’s Winters Bane. Although they’re mainly known for shoving their old singer into the limelight, Winters Bane has openly morphed with each and every effort, typically showing various colors of groove on “Girth” and full-blown power metal on “Redivivus,” which cannot be done by any normal group. However, “Heart of a Killer” is commonly hailed as their finest effort, and doing so isn’t any outrageous statement simply because of its presented lineup; everything that represented the band, and still does, is firmly rolled up into a stellar ball of in-your-face speed metal that shreds like a rabid wolverine. Who loves hearing it? This guy!
Primitively, Winters Bane was bloodthirsty beyond bloodthirstiness; truly, this record is them in heaviest form. The production, for one, strips Lou St. Paul’s riffs down to the bone, making his chops weigh more than a goddamn whale while Terry Salem pounds the juice out of his drum kit, equating total neck-snapping ambience. Paul’s contributions, however, are stunning supplements of wretched speed metal influence made from honest homage and his technical strife. Ten out of ten experts seem to agree his riffs and soloing are years ahead of similar squads providing identical services, yet those great numbers are lasting, memorable, and impeccably played; not just crushing, but principal as well. If your spine doesn’t snap at least once, I suggest killing yourself, poser.
Major hitters have also swiped this rocker because it holds Tim Owens’ virgin attempt at holding the vocalizing instrument, but “Heart of a Killer” has much more than a future idol bellowing; in fact, his showmanship is fundamentally better than most of his Priest-era material. You know, the man has might in that voice of his, so the whole record shows him flying from high registers to haunting chants rather impeccably, especially for the zesty approach Winters Bane took. Plus, how he entwines himself into “Heart of a Killer” is quite amazing, because Owens has so much unity in the surroundings, that it could be his real modus operandi, but let’s not argue about that; instead, just understand the microphone was held by the proper user. Ripper’s vocals are saintly forceful, shaping several anthems into phantasmal pieces that probably wouldn’t trample so hard if Owens wasn’t there, thus proving his talent was primordial and not granted. Uncle Timmy leads the charge, from Alpha to Delta, baby!
Although not perfect, “Heart of a Killer” still performs refreshing functions that every power/speed metal release must have to endure criticism, time, and change. The record’s constant durability leaves a treaty impression upon its victims right from “Wages of Sin” to the final ticks of “Cleansing Mother,” so calling “A Heart of a Killer” consistent would be a bulls-eye description. What about filler, because EVERY record has some, right? Well, you should give Opposite Land a call, but otherwise, your luck has gone dry. If either heavy-as-anvils metal makes you engorged or that old-school hunger just keeps coming back, look no further than this swell offering.
This review was written for: www.leviatan-magazine.com