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Clever song writing and excellent guitar play - 70%

kluseba, May 10th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, High Roller Records (Slipcase)

Ambush is one of numerous heavy metal revival bands that honours traditional genre trademarks inspired by the golden era of the mid-eighties. If compared to similar bands such as Stallion, Enforcer and Axxion, Ambush stands out with its particularly melodic guitar play in tunes like the energetic highlight ''Yperite'' and the catchy ''Hellbiter'' that has lots of commercial potential.

The rest of the band has fewer occasions to shine. The vibrant bass guitar only stands out in the particularly gripping opening of the faster ''The Demon Within''. The melodic lead vocals sound somewhat exchangeable but blend in nicely with the melodic guitar work in mid-paced tracks like the soaring ''A Silent Killer''. The drums are rather disappointing and mostly play safe, repetitive and predictable patterns except for the more dynamic closer ''Lust for Blood''.

While it's great to see a genre that had almost been gone and forgotten rise to new heights, one has to admit that Ambush barely stands out among its numerous colleagues. The band's clever song writing with catchy choruses and infectious melodies is noteworthy and the rhythm and lead guitars are technically impressive. However, the band could do better if it broke out of its own genre boundaries from time to time. The singer has passion and talent but fails to vary his vocal style and offer some surprising elements. The band should also focus more on its rhythm section as especially the drum play is quite generic while the bass guitar is underused.

To keep it short, Ambush's Infidel is entertaining with its melodic song writing and excellent guitar play but ultimately only interesting for avid heavy metal revival genre fans. The band certainly sounds more energetic on stage than in the studio. After three studio outputs, the time might have come to release a live album that exploits the Swedish quintet's full potential.

Angels Crying, From The Filthy Skies (Storm Is A-Comin'!) - 96%

CHAIRTHROWER, March 25th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, High Roller Records (Slipcase)

Released on Friday the 13th, at the start of this whole "social distancing" viral (polliwog) scare, and available on both slipcase CD as well as multiply coloured 12" vinyl under High (Rocka) Rolla Records, is haymaking Swedish heavy metal trailblazer Ambush, with its stunning, not to mention congenitally dark or austere, Infidel full-length - the third in Eurostars' fancifully lettered i.e. cover-designed series...(By Thor, duly is it bad-ass!)

Whilst many (will) swear by 2015's fatal & attractive Desecrator sophomore - perhaps the tidiest, or most technically polished and proficient, album to date - this holed up, wordy yegg dutifully pumps noggin n' fyst to titan (killing) tracks such as "Yperite" (pronounced "wipe right"?), "Leave Them to Die" - an astute, freaky live n' dead ringer for some White Wizzard-meets-Sin Starlett-meets-Pentagram hullabaloo - and, notably, as esteemed MA colleagues pointed out, "A Silent Killer" -- all of which feature downright knavish albeit wholly grooving/gruelling about-faces (or stark, ninety degree you-turns) liable to spin 'em all into an outright frenzy of good ole "new wave of traditional heavy metal" genre veneration.

Ironically, the main outlier consists of Infidel's titular opener (alongside the lesser so, yet uncharacteristically long 5.666 minute carouser "Iron Helm Of War"), as its semi-triplet-based, semi-"slip-sliding", high wire cadence - minus front springer Oskar Jacobson's stratospheric yelping - simply sounds...so alien to whatever Ambush has been known to create, thus far. (Dig his sinuously bizarre and arresting "burn-cackle" nary halfway in!)

As always, though, Linus Fritzson (also a member of Rejected Symmetry) potently lays down relentless and/or unyielding - certainly un-repentent! - drum beats akin to getting (s)mashed about the shnozz in most felicitous, roisterous manner. To toot, bassist Ludwig Sjöholm duly holds down, nay, BREAKS down the fort with his mammoth-sized, super duper resilient and LOUD playing, most assuredly galaxies away from pure kowtowing.

Holy (beady, red-eyed) crow! "Yperite" begins, stoically enough, with like-minded poised mien as Desecr(e)ator's "Night of Defilement" (and, for the record, JP's "Devil's Child", from days of gore) before ten-ton monster truck of a bass line takes over; thusly, for the song's wickedly gripping duration. As inferred, a celeritous, pre (killer) solo change of events propels this one through kinetically charged, electric night skies, with Oskar's seizing, awesomely inflected vox also bringing to mind Firestorm's "Don't Shoot (Let 'Em Burn!)", or maybe even its exalted closer "Natural Born Killers".

Worth mentioning, he hits them low notes as well, or cathartically, as any of his over-the-hop high end acrobatics. Great examples rest in pre-solo "Hellbiter", along with Hitten-like retro-activator "Heart of Stone", their s(l)ick lead chops notwithstanding. For its part, "Lust For Blood", while perhaps not quite valorously epic like Desecrator swansong "The Seventh Seal", still commendably assuages, so far as closers go.

Once more, the leads simply slay, and, particularly notable, is how both "Yperite" and "A Silent Killer" feature wholly concordant harmonica solos at their behest...yet another intricate, if not duly welcome, innovation on Ambush's behalf. *As late-March caveat, must anoint notion regarding latter's incredibly tacit segment, right after buddy espouses Viking-like rumbling/mumbling, and such, with flourish!

Ax warriors in old hand Olof Engqvist, along with as-brashly svelte newcomer/ex Legbah-er Karl Dotzek (not "Dönitz"!) keep up flame-game in most celebrated fashion; this latent arrival, in fact, may account for the band's slightly more strident, angular, or acerbically riveting, sound/vibe. Whichever the case, even midpoint seventy-five second instrumental "The Summoning" fits in perfectly, just like "Diamonds" proper utterly behooves Enforcer's eponymous top notch sophomore.

All this, beyond chromatically speedy, as well as innovating-ly finger-tapped and "whammy-bar'd" "The Demon Within" (demon-ringer for D-crater's "Faster"), in addition to everything else these grittily salient lads serve up, from here on in. Oh, of note, also, is inclusion of auxiliary (live act) fire men Burning Fire (!), from Night/Screamer, on bass, alongside further fretboard "defiler" Alexander Lyrbo of Bullet and triptych entailing Morbid Grin, Brutal Noise, Nominion. Quite a pedigree, for both band and members, indeed.

Yep, there aren't any weak offerings on here, and even though the train's pulling into crazy town(e) right now, don't let such prevent you from fully revelling in what amounts to be its most toothsome and poignantly deleterious run to date, Ambush's Infidel! (Plus, again, ain't that [blasphemous] artwork downright stylish and rad?!?)

A Bite Of Hell - 91%

Sweetie, March 13th, 2020

Ambush are a heavy metal act out of Sweden that recently crept up under my radar. Their first album Firestorm channeled in a lot of raw energy from the traditional waves, while the follow-up Desecrator cleaned that up a bit. Their newest disc Infidel follows the path of their sophomore album but deals the deck in a smoother manner. The songs wind up having a greater anthemic feel, ultimately causing them to stand apart with stronger presence.

In terms of more obvious ones, “Hellbiter” is the place to go. The frontman has such a concise delivery here, transitioning from the stomping verses to a sing-along chorus. Holding the power while doing that is his greatest strength. Signs of early Dream Theater without the progressive instrumentation is the best comparison I can make. Heavier tunes that grab the devil by the horns like “Demon Within” are also unique because of muscular lead execution. “Iron Helm Of War” has one of the greatest solos, surrounding the already fantastical feel with fret-board fire.

The only track I can really complain about is “Yperite” just because of how heavy-handed it gets with the pinch harmonics. The bass presence is at its peak on that one, so I can’t slam it too much. “A Silent Killer” rings that in even better, blending it with intricate rhythms that reside in minor scales. The shift of tone from song-to-song is one of Infidel’s strongest features, especially for how focused they remain.

If there’s an album the fully sold me on Ambush, this is the one. They’ve been churning out quality music since 2013, but this is where I believe they figured out their own formula. There’s a lot of melodies to sing along to, blistering solos and riffs to feast on, and most importantly, enough variation to hold your interest. Fans of Enforcer, Dream Theater, or Helloween should seek this out as soon as possible.

Originally written for Indy Metal Vault

She's Got Pearly Teeth - 90%

Twisted_Psychology, March 13th, 2020

Ambush has always had a more accessible edge compared to most of their peers in the NWOTHM movement and that’s especially true on their third album. Infidel seems to have mixed influences from Scorpions and Dokken in with their usual Riot and Judas Priest; the backing vocals are noticeably cleaner throughout and the rhythms on songs like “Yperite” and lead single “Hellbiter” would feel right at home on Blackout or Love at First Sting.

Thankfully the shift is incorporated gradually enough to avoid sounding watered down. A good majority of Infidel keeps to the blazing power metal speeds established on the band’s first two albums and songs like the title track and “Iron Helm of War” are rife with gang shouts and soaring guitar solos and harmonies. The darker tone on “A Silent Killer” makes for another strong track, drawing comparisons to such groups as Midnight Priest and Satan’s Hallow.

The album also benefits from a strong production job and great musicianship. The mix is pristinely balanced, but the bass and guitars come out especially strong, the former displaying more booming prominence and the latter putting in the band’s beefiest tone thus far. There’s a punchiness that makes things breezy regardless of the tempo at hand and the vocals keep that Tony Moore-style range quite nicely.

Much like the recent albums by Traveler and RAM, Ambush’s third album is affirmation that some extra catchiness can go a long way in making meat and potatoes metal more enticing. The contagious enthusiasm alone would be enough for a safe recommendation to classic metal fans, but the strong writing and energetic playing forge the band’s best achievement to date. Five years is a long gap for such a stylistically conventional album, but its masterful execution is more than worth the wait.

Highlights:
“Yperite”
“Hellbiter”
“A Silent Killer”
“Heart of Stone”
“Lust for Blood”

Originally published at http://psychichshorts.blogspot.com