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Baptized in Unholy Waters - 90%

lonerider, March 21st, 2020
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, High Roller Records

NWoTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal) from Sweden is like the well that never runs dry. I have no idea how it is that in almost all the major subgenres of heavy metal, bands from Sweden are among the very best and/or most prolific, but traditional 1980’s style heavy metal is certainly no exception and Ambush, along with names such as Ram, Screamer or Enforcer (even though their last album wasn’t all that good), are just one of many great young metal outfits hailing from the frozen tundra of the north.

Ambush happened to just release their third album the other day, but no matter how good it turns out to be, it will definitely have a hard time living up to the standard the band set with their 2015 sophomore release called Desecrator. This is an album with no glaring weaknesses but with lots of awesome songs and great individual performances. Speaking of those, the name of lead singer Oskar Jacobsson must be brought up. The higher vocal registers are where Jacobsson makes his money, and boy, does he hit those soaring high notes with conviction and flawless precision. This comes in especially handy since the music on Desecrator is 80’s style heavy metal with a strong speed metal influence and, according to an old song, speed metal and soaring vocals go together like love and marriage, or rather like a horse and carriage, or something. Anyway, speedy tracks like “Desecrator,” “Rose of the Dawn” or the self-explanatory “Faster” are mangy, mean and to the point, taking no prisoners and wasting no time with unnecessary intros or silly interludes.

But Ambush also shine on slightly less speedy, more solemn and methodic cuts like “Possessed by Evil,” “Night of Defilers” or the rousing naval anthem that is “Master of the Seas.” “Southstreet Brotherhood,” on the other hand, features some nice gang vocals and has more of hard/heavy rock feel to it, whereas the closing epic “The Seventh Seal” is a more varied and intricate affair, combining slower, introspective passages with fast, aggressive ones and some of the very best riffs and guitar harmonies on the entire record.

Speaking of riffs and harmonies, the guitar duo of Engqvist/Hagelin literally set their fretboards on fire, the virtually flawless production putting their badass performance in the proper spotlight. In terms of songwriting and musicianship, Desecrator can hold its own against many of the revered classics of 1980’s heavy metal, but the recording quality, even while staying true to the customs and aesthetics of the genre, is way better than almost anything that was available some thirty-plus years ago.

Desecrator is by no means innovative, but it neither tries nor does it need to be so. While many riffs, vocal lines or melodies will sound vaguely familiar, Ambush successfully avoid borrowing too heavily from any one particular band. Sure there is some Priest, some Maiden, some U.S. power/speed metal and many an influence from some other famous forerunner, yet Desecrator never devolves into a mere copycat affair and Ambush never fail to put their own unique flavor into this potent concoction, supplying us with 40 minutes of stainless true metal mayhem. Or, in the band’s very own words:

“South street Brotherhood
Coming round the bend
The road is our livelihood
You're under our command”

Choicest cuts: Night of Defilers, Desecrator, Rose of the Dawn, Master of the Seas, The Seventh Seal

One of my all time favorite album (seriously). - 100%

Satansballz805, October 13th, 2018

Let me get this out of the way, this band does sound like maiden and priest in a lot of ways. It doesn't bother me one but because the album is so goddamn incredible and has so much of their own style that I don't even think about them sounding like anyone other than Ambush. I have a few friends that can't stop bringing it up constantly. Don't get me wrong, of course I love all of the old stuff and this band would most likely would not even sound close to what they pulled off with this album. I'm gonna say something that would normally get me crucified but I like this album probably better overall than any priest or maiden album. Sorry, it's just that good.

I'll start with the vocals which in my opinion are some of if not the best metal vocals I can even think of. He has an incredible range and the way he sings does sound like maiden which you might think is a bad thing but he manages to create some seriously catchy and memorable melodies. There are a lot of priest and maiden "ripoff" bands but none of those could even sound nearly as epic and musically competent and the guys on this album are. I can't praise the performance enough. You'd have to hear it to believe it. I seriously can't emphasize just how amazing his vocals are. Not just the range which is incredible. I will literally get ever single song off of this album's song stuck in mind head. I will admit that I usually don't care a whole lot about the vocals far as memorizing the words. I could literally (try) to sing along and know the words to every song on the album and it never gets old. Old school metal that never gets old...

Guitars are seriously, seriously catchy and are played with such fluidity that I find it impossible to not fall in love immediately with the crazy amount of riffs and solos which are extremely good.

Drums are nothing special to be honest. I'm glad in a way though because it adds perfectly to the rest of the music and really does give it that old school feel. I wouldn't change a damn thing on how he plays those drums.

Bassist is a little hard to hear in this album, especially compared to their first where it was very prevalent. That being said, you can hear it very clearly throughout most of the album and is perfect.

This is a pretty shit review because I literally have zero complaints and this is an album that you just need to hear to believe. Anyone from a metalhead to someone that doesn't really even listen to metal or someone that have never even heard any metal at all should really enjoy this album. This is one that you could show to your mom and I really do think she'd enjoy at least some parts of it. This album has taken a spot in my top 20 best metals albums on my listen which is pretty insane considering the amount of bands/albums that I have or have heard. Quit reading this! And go pick this pick up immediately and commense the headbanging!

Beware The Legion Of Steel! - 95%

CHAIRTHROWER, April 17th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, High Roller Records

Ambush is yet another wicked Swedish traditional metal band which makes me want to stomp my feet and bang my head while pumping my fist in the air, completely oblivious to passers-by. Following up on their equally impressive debut, Firestorm (released in 2014), their second release, Desecrator, is one hell of a powerful, no-nonsense and awe-inspiring metal album drawing classic old-school influences. The obvious ones include Accept, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. To a more subtle degree, they also remind me of certain elements from lesser known NWOBHM bands Blitzkrieg, Desolation Angels, and Tyson Dog. I’ll even venture as far as likening them to a much harder, heavy metal version of 80s rockers, The Headpins, as they've got that classic, tight, boxed in sound largely in part from their drummer (Linus Fritzson) whose approach is very compact and steady. One thing is for sure, Ambush is here to rock, and to rock hard at that.

As soon as the album opens up with, “Possessed by Evil”, you just know you’re in for a good time. Starting off with a classic Maiden style triplet riff and Oskar Jacobsson’s clear and potent vocals, the song really makes a strong first impression on the listener before the next song, “Night Of Defilement”, takes over with a breathtakingly poised riff highly reminiscent of Priest’s “Devils’s Child” and a killer lead break courtesy of Olof Engkvist and Adam Hagelin. As for Ludwig Sjoholm’s bass playing, it gradually grows more prominent as the album progresses and is very noticeable on “South Street Brotherhood” and “Master of the Seas”. His unfaltering bass lines perfectly sustain the ever imposing power chords while providing a solid backbone to the numerous wicked guitar solos. Engkvist and Hagelin’s lead playing isn’t blisteringly fast but always very well drawn out, with each note making itself fully heard while displaying loads of emotion at the same time.

The title-track and “The Chain Reaction” are even more elaborate than the first two songs, with the latter featuring some of the best lyrical content and songwriting on the album, along with “The Seventh Seal”. This final song effectively carries on the time-honored tradition of closing an album with a longer, epic story-telling type track, the kind Iron Maiden is quite fond of. It also features very deep and soulful guitar solos, as the band clearly reaches for its creative pinnacle before wrapping things up.

While somewhat the weaker track on Desecrator, “South Street Brotherhood” plays out like a fist-pumping metal anthem with valorous lines such as "Devil's blood on hollow ground, roaring thunder!" or “Battle cries will crush the skies, so feed the fire!” and possibly a simple set of instructions on how to properly play this record on your home stereo: “So push them speakers, push them louder!.” This track is essentially a lighter, tongue-in-cheek moment on their behalf before opening the album’s second half with Jacobsson’s highly Halford-esque vocals on “Rose Of the Dawn” and “Master of the Seas”. The next to last track, “Faster”, is quite memorable as well with its condensed yet gripping lyrical content, well placed background vocals and once again, tremendous lead playing whose impact is still felt long after it's over.

Oh, and you gotta love their band logo and cover format, encapsulating the album title at the bottom of a dark, austere scenario such as the graveyard tornado depicted here or the literal hell hole of Firestorm. I wonder what kind of art the next cover will display, keeping in line with this classy eye-catching format.

If you are into Swedish traditional metal bands such as Air Raid, Enforcer, Lethal Steel, RAM, Steelwing or Wolf, you will certainly dig Ambush. Their music and style are without a doubt as unpretentious and devoted as they get while truly satisfying a craving for authentic, blue chip and straightforward heavy metal. If their next release is as great as the first two, we’re definitely in for a treat!

Weak Album with Some Strong Tracks - 65%

raoulduke25, February 11th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, High Roller Records

Having just formed in 2013, Ambush are a relatively recent heavy metal band from Sweden. Desecrator marks their second full-length album, and is a continuation of the classic style in which they have entrenched themselves with their previous works. They are frequently compared to Judas Priest, and in my opinion this is a pretty accurate description of their sound, though this release does mark an expansion of their sound to include more disparate influences.

Though their style of riffing does bear a strong resemblance to eighties-era Priest, it's probably the case that a lot of the comparisons to the legendary metal band are made largely because of the vocalist sounds an awful lot like Rob Halford with his impressively wide range and penchant for high vibrato-laden screams. I think his vocals on this release go even further though, as there are places where his falsettos are right up there Kim Petersen, evoking a far more haunting and cutting sound than Halford. But apart from such high-pitched fanfares, the vocals depart from these influences significantly. The vocal melodies themselves as well as the use of backing vocals during a lot of the choruses seem to take away from this comparison a good bit. But going back to the riffs, it's important to note that inasmuch as Ambush are carrying on the torch of a lot of the classic bands, they still have a modernised vibe in a lot of their songs; the rhythm guitar is pretty bass-heavy and the production is cleaner than I'd like it to be. But these don't affect the songwriting or composition and so are far from being deal-breakers.

There are two strong highlights on this album, and those are the title track and the closing track. And when I say strong, I mean that these songs are so perfect that they alone might warrant a purchase of this album. Yes, they are that good. “Desecrator” has an incredibly enchanting set of riffs that run throughout the entire song, during verses and choruses alike. The only problem is they are a tiny bit low in the mix, so you have to crank up the volume and pay close attention so that they don't get drowned out by the vocals. But if you listen closely, you'll hear what I'm talking about; it's utterly magnificent. The closing track is a massive epic tribute to Iron Maiden and is aptly named, “The Seventh Seal” which I can only assume was an intentional nod to the band's 1988 album. It has all the best elements of any classic Maiden song: a slow first half followed by a powerful second half, complete with galloping basslines, superb lead playing, and of course a high-capacity magazine full of chest-pounding riffs.

But besides the highlight tracks and the flawless vocals, the rest simply didn't do much for me, and I'm not sure why. Ambush have all the right ingredients but for some reason this album just didn't have a lot of memorable moments. I like what they are doing though, and I definitely will keep an eye out for future releases, especially based on the stronger tracks on this album. Come to think of it, the vocalist alone would make me want to listen to anything they put out. He's just that good.

Originally written for fetiddead.wordpress.com.

Speed, power and will - 85%

el_pistolero, December 15th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, High Roller Records

To make it short: If you liked "Firestorm", you will like this one here as well. This album is the perfect sequel of the debut. The sound, the catchiness, the vocals, the music definitely stay on the same level as the predecessor. And this is not meant in a negative way. Of course there will be people complaining that there is no development compared to the debut, or that they sound too much like Judas Priest, or whatever. But what you get here is straight, pure heavy metal in your face. A sound not many bands (even the old "creators" of this fine music genre) can master nowadays. It has nice melodies, great vocals, a great production / sound. What can the metal heart want more?

Take the opening song "Possessed by Evil": This song alone is worth spending your money on this album. It takes you right back to the 80s. Oskar Jacobsson's vocals and screams are on the same level as (if not even higher than) Rob Halford's during Judas Priest's "golden period". "Night of Defilers" is another perfect example for that. Listen to this and you wanna pump your fists in the air. But Ambush are not "just" pumping traditional heavy metal. As the debut, this album has several songs with increased speed (like "Desecrator", obviously "Faster"). But even if Ambush increases the speed it does not mean it goes to the cost of the melodies. All the songs are very (but not cheesy) melodic and catchy and I think this is one of their greatest strengths: Every song on this album goes straight into your ear and stays there.

In addition to great guitar work, the mentioned magnificent vocals you get an absolutely fine production. It is obviously in the tradition of the 80s but it is crisp and clear, not muffled or mushy nor is it over produced. In total it is a warm, clean hearing experience in which you can hear every little detail and the sweat poured into the songs.

Ambush does not make music to sit at home and listen to alone. They make music to make you feel better and feel the need to party. If you feel depressed, throw this album on your player, grab a beer and headbang. This is simply great heavy metal.