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Back through time - 90%

Andreas_Hansen, March 8th, 2018

As mentioned in my Night's "Raft of the World" review, Scandinavia and the 2000s seem to be a good combination of factors for a revival heavy metal band to be. Air Raid is one of these numerous bands that try today to sound and to look the most old-school way as possible, even getting to the bottom of things with a very retro-way to dress and to make the promotion of their content (promoting mostly vinyl and for some bands tapes).

Air Raid is a young but promising Swedish metal band that was formed less than ten years ago, in 2009. For the moment the band is quite active, as they have one release every two years on average. They have one demo called... "Demo", released in 2011, then the same year came out one EP "Danger Ahead" and a first full-length "Night of the Axe" that fully allowed the band to show their intentions in term of sonorities. They released in 2014 "Point of Impact" (which was the last album in their discography at the time this review was written) and finally "Across the Line" that came out last year.

This band is the perfect example of a young band that starts with a solid first release, but that is still trying to improve their play as they are making music. "Night of the Axe" was already a very satisfying disc, but it seems that the band reached their peak with "Point of Impact" (which is now debatable with their new album). The album is characterized by a succession of heavy metal riffs smelling good old-school vibes, even though the structure of the songs is more or less all the same. Everything in this disc is made for reminding you of the glorious era of traditional metal, from the very accessible sonorities to the very retro-looking artwork that strongly reminds me of the Swiss hard FM-like power metal band Crystal Ball's "Hard Impact".

This disc can be split in two. In the first part, there are all the speed metal-like, high-tempo songs like "Bound to Destroy", "Wildfire" or "Vengeance". In the second part, there are at the opposite songs that sound more mid-tempo like "Madness", "Victim of Night" or "The Fire Within". The songs of the first part remind a lot of the old school speed metal tunes of the 80's as they are full of tremolo picking, where everything goes quickly. The drum set isn't especially heavy or sustained but it always fits well the chords and the melody. It is basically quite simple and not especially technical, but everything is made correctly.

The riffs make clearly the essential part of this album. Each song has at least one excellent and memorable riff and a whole bunch of good solos. We could notice a tendency to use minor chords, making the result quite melancholic - or nostalgic of the old period? - yet without losing all the power of the song like in the excellent "Vengeance".

The singing is also somehow a tribute to the old-school bands, as it is particularly high-pitched. It has a particular importance since the guitar leads and riffs are often quite melodic and high-pitched as well, so this singing fits perfectly in and creates an even better finish. The singing really brings something important to Air Raid's music as it can create by itself a little epic or melancholic atmosphere in the song.

In conclusion, despite a very basic sound and a very basic way of composition, Air Raid's "Point of Impact" really succeeds in creating a very old-school-like atmosphere to would make us back through time, thirty years earlier. This magic trick is due to an excellent fresh, new composition alternating between heavy, speed and sometimes even power metal, summarizing in that way everything classic that was made before, without falling in the trap of an umpteenth boring Iron Maiden-like. The only thing we could reproach to this album would be its length, as it lasts only thirty-four minutes.

The album even has its own instrumental, called "Flying Fortress", which a short song resuming everything this album offers: an endless continuation of good riffs, a very catchy rhythm, nice solos and a quite good - but too short - bass solo.

Originally written in French for Tunes of Steel.