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Zuul are a band coming from Carbondale, Illinois and although I haven’t heard their latest output, I really enjoy their sound. They play traditional heavy metal with some nwobhm thrown in the mix. I mean, look at that cover, did you expect anything diferent? It’s almost as if this guys stop hearing music released after 1985 because this record just exudes metal traditionalism, good riffs? Check. Lyrics about war, warriors and battles? Check. Twin guitar lead attack? Check. Band name taken from a great 80s movie? Check. There isnt anything ground breaking in this album, everything you´ll hear here you probably have heard before, but fuck originality, when the music is this good and honest who cares. So grab a cheap beer, blast the record at max power on your stereo and reminiscence about the heavy metal parking lot you used to hang and enjoy the trip…
The vocals duty are handled by Brett Batteau, and they fit the music quite well, sometimes a little flat, I mean he sing really well, but it would've been nice to hear him reach some higher notes to add to the whole feeling of the album. Some time it appears as if the vocals could have used a little more volume because on some songs it seems as they are being drowned by the rest of the band. Never to the point where you can’t hear them, but it could have used some adjusting.
The instruments production on this one is great, sounding very organic and well-balanced. All instruments are audible, even the bass which is always nice to hear when you have a good bass player, and luckily this is the case, because although he is no Steve Digiorgio, “Lungoat” does a pretty good job with his instrument having some really cool liks and solo here and there throughout the album, like in the song Warhammer around the 3 minute mark or Darkness on Ice, which is very bass heavy. Both guitarists do a great job, the album is full of fast riffs, containing a lot of melody and great solos, like on the song Warriors. The guitar in the song is perfect, great riff, a really cool lead work done while the pre – chorus is going on, which adds this epic feeling to their songs and a great solo. Plus is one of the best songs on the album, just try not to sing along to the chorus…The drums sound good in the mix, some fills are hard to appreciate because they get muffled, but nothing to worry about, you can still enjoy them. They complement all songs great and give a nice flowing feel to the songs, although never being flashy or too technical.
The compositions are kept simple as your average heavy metal band, but are executed with the conviction and the passion you’d expect from true fans of the genre. The title track is the longest of the songs here clocking just above 6 minutes and is one of the best songs here. Right at the start of the song Jared MIleger launches on a solo that hits you out of nowhere and leaves you hooked. Another highlight in the album is Air Raid which has the most NWOBHM influence, from the riffs to the lyrics about WWII air battles.
The down side of the album, apart from some minor production issues, is that the second half just doesn't quite reach the level of the first half. The songs are not crap, but they tend to run together and just luck the memorability of the first 5 songs.
For being the sophomore effort of Zuul I really enjoyed the album and was pleased to find yet one more good band keeping the old spirits alive. They still have some flaws and in the composition aspect there’s room for improvement, but this guys get it, they can play their instruments, they can write good songs and if they keep working they might just surprise you. Just remember there is nothing innovative here, no originality, just pure uncompromised heavy metal for fans made by fans, and you get that when your listen to this album.