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"Preacher Of Eeeeeeeeviiiil!" - 79%

CHAIRTHROWER, July 25th, 2017
Written based on this version: Unknown year, Digital, Independent

I'm forever indebted to Earache's 2009 Heavy Metal Killers CD for introducing me to fresh and invigorating newcomers to the budding, ocean spanning "traditional" heavy metal scene which at the time included heavy hitters such as Cauldron, Enforcer, RAM, Hospital Of Death and Celtic Legacy. This fond recollection wouldn't be complete however without mentioning Finland's caustic and raw Cast Iron, a veritable flash in the "pan" considering its sole release, an eye-brow singing brow-beater of a four-track EP titled Leather & Metal (my cup runneth over) originally made as a CD-R in less than 100 copies (with a slightly different cover) to be given for free at the 2008 Keep It True X festival in Germany yet thankfully re-issued with a pressing of 500 CD's under Thunderknights records (with a catalog ID # of THUNDER 001 to boot).

Without question, "Running From The Law" and "Preacher Of Evil" alone rate 100% hands down (which I'll get back to soon enough). Excising severe enough restraint will allow me to firstly (and calmly) touch base on Leather & Metal's spastically amped opener "Out From Hell" and its fierce gas guzzling sidekick/wingman, "Running From The Law", which takes JP's classic take on lawlessness, "Breaking The Law" to a whole new level. The former is somewhat less imposing than its brethren, yet makes sense considering each track is reassuringly longer and more ballistic than its predecessor. It's actually organized by way of purposeful sloppiness i.e the front man/ guitarist's "Aaaaaaaaaa-aah!" accompanied by a most thrash-like riff which makes one feel like they're getting boxed upside the head from every angle by a pugilist with an anvil (or horseshoe) concealed in his glove. You don't hear me complaining! The solo starts off whiny but soon gets into Killers-era Iron Maiden overtures before an unapologetic return to form, ramped up no less.

"Running From The Law" takes the listener on a pedal-to-the-metal, high speed police chase complete with hairpin curves in the form of alternating split string chromatic riff-age (a bit like that wicked riff on the very first level of Doom, the quintessential first person shooter for PC back in the day) with dead-stop, U-Turn like staccato riffing around the 0:45 mark (with an incredibly tight, subtle lead tucked in between for good measure) which is akin to a round-house kick in the throat (repeat formula, and so on). Good times. The frontman sounds especially vitriolic and caustic here, with a bit of desperation and "I don't give a fuck-ism" thrown into the chorus for good measure: "Running from the laaaaaaaaw!". Correct me if I'm wrong but it also sounds like the riffing jumps an entire octave before a singeing and sonorous solo flashes its badge on you. Overall, Leather & Metal - especially its middle tracks - cruises along at a highly inflammatory pace, complete with explosive solos and an unyielding battery which supplies a crushing backdrop like it's life depended on it.

My go-to track - even overtaking the "hard-driving" "Running From The Law" - is without a doubt, you guessed it, "Preacher Of Evil". As if taking lyrical cues from Wolf's "False Preacher" (despite pre-dating it by three years), this is one for the ages:

"A black night, the full moon shining, hazy mist covering all the lands
People gather to hear the mass, of a man who takes the law to his hands
To reveal the lies of a tyrant above who wants to save your souls from hell
And give up your life for a lie, if he exists you can't even tell

Preacher - Preacher of evil
Condemns the holy laws and faith
Preacher - Preacher of evil
Is here to open up Hell's gate"

The incepting unholy verses and "cry me a river" style riffing (as in "hit the road jack!") makes me want to crash a Broadway musical and snatch the mike out of the tenor's hands in order to unleash the fury which resides within. This might have something to do with the fact it sounds like buddy injected a shit load of camphor oil before belting this one out, eyes bugging, veins bulging et al. I'd like to add the guitar tone throughout this affair is strident as hell, as if Cast Iron's axe man plugged directly into a wall socket while ankle deep in sewage (why not?). Unfortunately this comes at the detriment of the bass, which at least is felt rather then completely unheard. The solo to "Preach Of Evil" is especially tense and melodic, and rips like tomorrow'll never come. Some very nice harmonies take place in its second half before a wry return to form and EP closer, the vaguely JP "United"-ish title track. Fret not however as things slowly but surely improve over the course of this classic sounding, five minute romp & stomper. His truly tones it down a little - it is an anthem after all, and besides, he's probably on the verge of collapsing his vocal chords. OK, now I admit the sappy chorus is lame and if it was a cat I wouldn't hesitate to throw it a boot. Thankfully, Leather & Metal, both EP and track ends on a high note thanks to an engaging, fist-pumping bridge and sweetly pummeling drum out-take beneath some swift, spiraling leads both before and after said hokey chorus swings back in full cramping un-glory. (At this point, I can't blame you if you're scrambling to re-play "Running From The Law" and/or "Preach Of Evil". Effectively, these two winners won't wear thin anytime soon, even after almost a decade). One last word on the drumming: while not terrible, at times it sounds like an ape fighting its way of a walk-in freezer...

It's a dang shame Cast Iron split up in '09 before releasing a highly touted full-length debut. I can only imagine how much of a crushing impact it'd have had on the already exploding Scandinavian trad metal scene. Here's to hoping the boys in Hämeenlinna read this and get cracking after such a debilitating "hiatus"...As Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper would scream, "I want more!"