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Sound of victory - 83%

DesecratorJ, August 9th, 2018

What a curious band name these guys took. That name is actually most known for as an American series or a model of helicopter, surely not a German metal band one. Beyond that, Airwolf were pretty much a very underground band from Germany, playing mostly a heavy/power metal with speed elements in their music. They only released the album reviewed here beside a 1987 demo before being signed to an underground label that released bands like country mates Mephisto or Trance. Not much information is known about the band's member too, other than their names, we only know that they were active at one point in the late 80s. To me, it's one of those band they never had the attention they deserved since the music they made in Airwolf is pretty good and they took good influences to do so. Let's see what this underground band sole album is all about ...

Well, the album was released thirty years ago in 1988, back when the biggest power metal band Helloween released its famous "Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II" too. However, despite taking some influence from these guys, there are also some pretty nice NWOBHM sounding riffs that make their music quite interesting. We have on this album a total of eight tracks, thus making this record to run for over 44 minutes, which is quite above the average of a standard full-length if you ask me. This album doesn't have any particular introduction track, so it kicks-off with one of the best song on this record called "Legion of Doom". The first thing that will catch your ears is the particular vocal type of guitarist/singer "Frank Zellmann", pretty unusual for this kind of power/speed metal, they are more raspy, but can also get cleaner and melodic at times. You will also see the talent these guys had in the instrumental parts of this track, featuring cool guitar solos. However, the following track "Through the Fire" is a bit of a turn-off for me at least, sounding more like commercial without anything special in it.

Luckily, we have way more good material than bad one on this album. When I spoke about the NWOBHM influence, the songs "Swordbreaker" and "Starfire" are the examples here. More speed metal oriented, they have a more melodic approach to the riffs and the choruses are catchy and more memorable than the other tracks of the album. Despite its unusual sound, the album still sound pretty good and the production work has been done greatly. This record is actually well-mixed, as the instruments are all well-balanced, thus making the album more accessible and not having a primitive sound, to me at least. On the lyrics side, I don't really know what they are all about to be quite honest. With song name like "Death Metal Rain", what the hell does it mean? Anyway, the track is still very good, especially due to its well-arranged structure and fast-paced riffs. Of course, the self-titled "Victory Bells" is a highlight on this record, it's aggressive and full of energy through the whole song length.

To sums it up, what you will find on this album is a great mix of metal sub-genres, such has heavy, power and speed metal. You will of course need to get used to the vocals to like this album, beside that, it's a pretty good hidden piece of the 80s German metal scene. I recommend this record if you are a fan of the genre obviously, but especially if you like bands such has Helloween, Grave Digger, Tyrant or Vampyr. In that case, you may find this very interesting to add to your play list. Despite all the other good bands, I still come back to listen to Victory Bells at times, it definitely worth it.

Best tracks:

Legion of Doom
Starfire
Swordbreaker
Victory Bells