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A Vicious Attack from a Lesser Known Source - 97%

bayern, May 10th, 2017

I’ll never forget how my friends and I laughed out loud at the cover of “Battle at Helms Deep”, which I came across some time in the mid-90’s; couldn’t stop laughing for quite some time… We even organized a competition among us to see who could come up with a similar picture, only better of course. Being a terrible artist, I came up last, but man, wasn’t my sketch better than this winner of a kindergarden drawing contest…

Dodgy cover choices aside, the music didn’t strike me hard at all as I had already moved towards more brutal stuff (thrash, industrial, death) at the time, and wasn’t in the least interested in epic battle hymns be it at Helms Deep or at the bottom of Mount Doom. Naturally I wasn’t keen on checking the sophomore until this guy, who insisted that I had to hear it, literally shoved it down my ears one day. And I’m eternally grateful to him for that since this “second coming” remains one of the ten finest speed metal recordings in the annals of metal the only stain on it being the cover art again. The guys were long since gone at that time so there was no follow-up to this glorious speed metal odyssey…

The year is 2004, and out of the blue appears a new Attacker opus. Memories of epic battles, funny covers, and speed metal “skirmishes” come flooding the mind, and the fan’s decision is to eventually check out this “Soul Taker”, based on the total recall in his head. It wouldn’t take long for the old band fans to adjust their senses to this new offering, as it nicely mixes the elements from the previous two instalments; in other words, the epic and the speedy arrangements have formed a compelling symbiosis the latter enhanced by more progressive arrangements and bold ventures into thrash. Classic metal all the way marking a promising new beginning for the veterans, even featuring a cool cover art with allusions to Jack the Ripper.

The revitalized veterans were not willing to lose the inertia, and here they were with the album reviewed here. To continue with this annoying attention on the covers: the one here is a sheer horror masterpiece and already promises a lot in terms of musical content. And the guys don’t disappoint as what follows is American power metal at its uncompromising best. The opening “This is Power” is the definitive power/speed metal hymn, also with the telling title, a soaring fast-paced anthem with Bob Mitchell’s piercing vocals tearing the air no worse than the Metal God himself, racing with the steel cutting riffs every bit of the way. Such a refreshing outburst of aggression was something that was missing from “Soul Taker” to some extent, but the guys make up with all the energy they can summon “Anger Aggression” greatly capturing this determination with its brutal speed, also brilliantly melodic at times, metal accumulations, a rager second to none with thrash showing its “ugly” head timidly here and there. “Blessed with This Curse” switches onto impetuous gallops and gracefully recalls some of the material from “Second Coming” its marginally mellower nature also accentuated by superb melodic tunes, Mitchell adding gruffer more brutal vocals to enhance the atmosphere. The title-track notches up the speed although it remains within the galloping parametres with sharp vitriolic riffs flying left and right surrounding the nice memorable chorus and Mitchell’s high-strung soaring vocals. “Nail It Down” carries on in the same remorseless vein, a short bursting speedster the gallops fully epitomized again their stride sparingly broken by edgier proto-thrashy additives and by the obligatory melodic “flirtations”.

“I am Sinn” misleads with its doom-laden beginning, but the listener will hardly have the time to take the requisite breath of air as the intense speedy crescendos resume seldom pausing for a break along the way, even striving for some Helstar-esque classical virtuosity in the second half. “Your Own World” rushes forward with brisk melodic guitars Mitchell toning it down with vocals closer to the mid-range for a change, well suiting the Shrapnel-like lead sections and the more technical riff applications. “Devil’s War” is a 7-min progressiver finally calming the ball down although the guys’ galloping passion inevitably shows up occupying a large portion of this engaging composition which doesn’t miss out on the gorgeous melodic embellishments. “Brainshake” is a more immediate energizer the band unwinding with more leisurely, more carefree riffage sparing themselves for the final showdown that “Fear of Disgrace” is, a dark brooding shredder recalling the exploits of the 90’s Swedish scene (Hexenhaus, Fifth Reason, Memento Mori, etc.) with more intricate riff-formulas provided in a dynamic hectic form; nothing fast-paced here, but the approach is effective enough revealing the guys’ more serious, more intricate side as a finale.

American power/speed metal was brought back from the fields of dormancy in the late-90’s/early-00’s thanks to talented outfits like New Eden, Spirit Web, Destiny’s End, Cauldron Born, etc., but since the majority of this batch either split up untimely or only sporadically released the odd album, it took Attacker, the seasoned veterans, to keep the flame burning during the new millennium. This “unknown” piece of metal is pretty much the epitome of the genre, a most shining example of how classic power/speed metal should sound like, a fist of energy and aggression that was badly needed to propel US metal to the front echelon where progressive, thrash and death metal have already settled in comfortably. The more elaborate song-structures from “Soul Taker” have been left aside as for most of the time the delivery here perfectly exemplifies the band name, speed metal attack to the brim, the “third coming” that the band fans have been waiting for steadfastly all these years…

The band slowed down considerably afterwards, obviously content with what they have achieved, which was by no means a small feat, and it took them wholesome seven years to produce a follow-up. “Giants of Canaan” was worth the wait, the expected slab of driving retro power/speed metal, which also showed how badly missed the guys have been on the field. They may have voted to stay afloat on more regular bases as “Sins of the World” appeared mere three years later although the guitar player Pat Marinelli is no longer with his comrades, or rather comrade, as from the initial line-up it’s just the drummer Mike Sabatini that has left. The man will soldier on, that’s for sure; he won’t leave the battlefield, and will always be prepared to provide another “deadly” counterattack to whatever obstructions may appear on the way of the old school.

A tired band at work - 60%

Xeogred, March 5th, 2007

A lot of US bands seem to be coming back thesedays. Some have actually had some fantastic comebacks, while others should've probably stayed in the dark after all these years. Attacker was once a band that was completely ahead of its time, being one of the very few that could've been labeled as true speed metal back then, often mentioned among the ranks of Agent Steel, and many others. They even had a strong majestic and magical power to their sound that could've marked them as one of the earliest power metal bands as well, with a kick. As legendary as all this sounds, sadly, Attacker has become one of those bands that should've simply stayed in the dark to keep the honor they once had.

To be pretty blunt about it, this sounds like a terrible album a drunk and weak U.D.O could've put out (I actually do enjoy UDO and Udo's vocals, this sounds a bit like them, but just bad). The similarities with the vocalists is where I get this idea. Bob Mitchell is back wrecking havoc with his boring and often annoying vocals. Over the years he's kind of developed a Udo-like voice, but without the power and energy Udo delivers. Mitchell's wails and shrieks can be pretty good at times, but those only come out a few times here and there, the rest of his vocals are just aggravating. I didn't think he was the greatest vocalist back in the 80's with their Battle at Helm's Deep album, but he wasn't nearly this bad. His vocals aged for the worst.

The music itself here is pretty uninspiring. Don't expect any sparkling energy that emitted from the Battle at Helm's Deep and The Second Coming. This entire album is totally straight forward, and just doesn't really seem to go anywhere. None of these songs really stuck out or were too memorable whenever I listen to it entirely. There's some catchy rhythm's here and there that are fun while you listen to them, but nothing you'll be replaying in your head towards the end of the day.

As much as I enjoyed Attacker's first two albums and replay them over and over, I really never get the urge to listen to this one or Soul Taker. The previous album before this one, Soul Taker, I thought was in fact even worse than this one, actually being more boring and uninspiring than this disc. "Your Own World" is probably the highlight of this album, sounding closer to old Attacker than anything else you'll ever hear on this. Attacker continues to play gigs and is still active thesedays, and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of their new releases. Sadly I can't say I'm all that hyped or excited about what the future may hold for them. They should really consider getting a new vocalist, or actually putting some energy into their new material, or just call it quits while the little honor they still hold remains. I guess only time will tell then.