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From Beauty to Turpitude, Pt. 5 - 80%

Xyrth, February 20th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, Mausoleum Records

Perhaps it has to do with the poor man's Manowar cover artwork, but my expectations where somewhat increased for this release, the fifth LP by German genre-shifters Faithful Breath. Even though their über cheesy faux-Viking image would return for Skol, there's just something more appealing in the colorful, bronzed butt galore and simple airbrush art by Patrick Meeze, who would go to create the cover piece of the more interesting Warlock debut, Burning the Witches, also from 1984. As a matter of fact, the sound here is actually heavier than on previous albums, probably due to the fact that Udo Dirkschneider himself acts as producer, something he started out the previous year with Raven, producing a couple of singles, an EP and their third LP, All for One. No surprise to find out that Faithful Breath's frontman and sole constant member, Heinz Mikus, tries his best Udo impersonation here, blatantly embracing and Accepting (!) his influence, especially on the title-track, which sounds like a Balls to the Wall outtake.

Now, that “consented plagiarism” of sorts isn't such a bad thing, considering the good quality of the source of inspiration, and also taking into account Faithful Breath's two previous mediocre and insipid if mildly entertaining ventures into hard rock/proto-metal territory. Here, they finally embrace the pure heavy metal sonic aesthetic, and personally I welcome the full transformation with eager ears. After all, this would lead them to even more metallic explorations in the coming years, when the good stuff really started for them. But focusing on Gold 'n' Glory, the album has a good combination of different paced tracks that keep it interesting for the whole whopping half hour of duration. Actually, I think the fact that this is a short LP works in its favor. Udo's production is suitable and manages to give the album a rougher edge, the guitars feel more serrated, akin to the rhythmic riffs Accept and Judas Priest where providing to metalheads at the time. The bass sound actually reminds me of Ian Hill, to say at the same time that it isn't a big protagonist and neither a bad secondary character. The drums have a good pounding sound, but it is Mikus the one that most benefits from the chosen sound, with a grittier and meaner intonation.

Variety never was an issue with this band, but standardized quality was before this one came out. Gold 'n' Glory might not be as glorious as other '84 releases, but it yields a decent amount of fun. We've got some dynamic bruisers in opener “Don't Feel Hate”, which sounds a bit like Grim Reaper, followed by “Jailbreaker”, “Play the Game” and the two-minute closer, “Don't Drive Me Mad”. “A Million Hearts” sounds like the mandatory Scorpions-type of power ballad, part good, part cheese, with the repeated chorus designed for concert chanting and ascending melodic guitar lines, but there's nothing offensive about it. “Princess of the Dawn in an Obvious Disguise” … I mean, “Princess in Disguise” is another derivative tune with vocal effects on the chorus that desperately try to give it some personality of its own… failing miserably. The surprised expression on the chromed Drakkar figurehead says it all. But alas, it is not a bad track either, enjoyable as much as any vintage low paced heavy metal track from the golden age. And that is why, despite not having a single trace of originality in either packaging or sound, Gold 'n' Glory manages to shine slightly brighter than its predecessors. Not to say that this deserves to be a classic, but perhaps it is more maligned and ignored than it deserves.

Euro-Metal Gem of the Faithful Breath Catalog! - 93%

razorfistforce, October 17th, 2012

Nothing drives me more insane than when a mediocre band/artist records a legitimately brilliant album which is subsequently either ignored, laughed off as an anomaly, or ridiculed. Now I know there are TRUE Faithful Breath fans out there who love the band from their humble German prog/hard rock beginnings way back in 1974 with their debut "Fading Beauty" LP, and through their succession of albums(each a bit harder edged than the last, with the original prog sound gradually fading away) like 1980's "Back On My Hill", the cult hard rock classics "Rock Lions" LP from 1981 and "Hard Breath" LP from 1983(which were beginning to demonstrate some heavy metal proficiency but still had more of a hard rock vibe). In some ways Faithful Breath's development is similar to that of Krokus, with a long series of ok albums all leading to two classics(in the case of Krokus, their '82 "One Vice At A Time" LP and "Headhunter" LP from '83). Likewise, Faithful Breath's early efforts were all leading to the stunning European metal glory of their "Gold 'N' Glory" LP released in early 1984 on Mausoleum Records.

But here's where things get tragic in my opinion. By 1984, too many metalheads had been negatively influenced by the early Faithful Breath LPs(for example, just imagine a young metalhead in 1983 buying '74's "Fading Beauty" LP-they'd be thoroughly confused when their friend told him a year later that he should check out this rad record by Faithful Breath called "Gold 'N' Glory") and the over the top Spinal Tap-esque image(see the back side of "Gold 'N' Glory" which Faithful Breath in full Viking regalia so proudly adorned). In many ways Sweden's Heavy Load also had this issue of an image which was either loved or hated(although almost NO ONE could deny their metal mastery). For some odd reason Manowar got a free pass for their equally cheeky dress, with many metal fans adoring Manowar's image while scorning Faithful Breath and Heavy Load who both PRECEDED Manowar when it came to dressing up like Vikings, etc. So basically, "Gold 'N' Glory" already had some strikes against it(no thanks to rock/metal critics as well) before the needle even dropped...

When that needle DID drop however, what listerers were met with was a well-produced(by Accept producer/engineer Michael Wagener and Accept frontman Udo Dirkschneider)wall of hugely melodic, expertly played, well-written European heavy metal that musically was in the vein of Accept, Sinner, Trance, Bullet, Viva, Black Out-"Evil Game" LP and fellow label-mates Axe Victims, Ostrogoth(Belgium), Scavenger(Belgium), crossed with the cold, emotionally bleak and icy vibrations of Swedish masters like Heavy Load, Overdrive, Glory Bells' Band, 220 Volt, Torch, Axewitch, etc. So while "Gold 'N' Glory" IS a very German record it transcends borders and stands as a testament to the sheer heavy metal power and glory of 80's Euro-metal.

From the first second, "Gold 'N' Glory" just piledrives with huge riffs, killer melodies, catchy choruses, and metal pride. Opening track "Don't Feel Hate" is superb and perfectly sets the stage for rest of the album which ranges from up-tempo headbangs like "Don't Feel Hate" to wonderfully written, slow, melodic masterpieces like "A Million Hearts". The second tune "King Of The Rock"(while lyrically not exactly brilliant) is a all-around monster of a track, with huge Accept-like group choruses and tons of excellent guitar work. Track three "Jailbreaker" is just plain old fun, evoking a time and style of heavy metal which is sadly now gone. This headbangin' tune is followed up by the brilliantly beautiful "A Million Hearts". Some would classify this tune as a "power ballad", but in reality it's FAR too heavy to have the word "ballad" anywhere near it! It is simply a emotionally crushing, melodic dirge, with a beautifully sung chorus and very emotive guitars. This tune is very reminiscent of some of the emotionally black, introspective, and brilliant tunes written by Swedish legends like 220 Volt and Heavy Load. Next up is the title track "Gold 'N' Glory" which is quite simply classic and starts Side B with the same shot of power that "Don't Feel Hate" does for Side A. The first time I heard this album, after "A Million Hearts"(the last song on Side A) I thought, "there's NO way that Side B can keep up this level of quality". In fact, over the years I've grown to love Side B just a hair more than the album's marvellous first side. The super-heavy, yet catchy, Accept-level quality title track is followed by "Play The Game", possibly my favorite tune on the LP, with its great melodic leads, upbeat(lyrically and musically) chorus, and down and dirty soloing which builds to a beautiful dual-guitar climax, followed by one more go around of the chorus. Next up is the menacing-mooded "Princess In Disguise" which features more top-notch guitar work and yet another great chorus. There is also a really cool effect placed on the vocals during the verses which sdds alot of moodiness to the track. The lead break on this tune is rad, almost spacey(maybe a hint of their early prog days), and once again it's just a fun, cool tune. The album ends with the up-tempo headbang "Don't Drive Me Mad" which is probably the weakest(but still great) tune on the album(as well as one of the heaviest and fastest)so serves as a good choice to end the album. There's this perfect sense of 'I wish there was more' which I get everytime this album ends. I usually end up playing it again.

So basically, "Gold "N' Glory" is a lost classic of European metal and an undeniable piece of classic Germanic heavy metal. Every tune is great, the album cover is cool(further reinforcing the Nordic vibe which is SO in your face on the back of the LP which features photos of the band, several members dressed in full Viking gear). Yet, Faithful Breath carries a very love 'em or hate 'em kinda vibe which is unfortunate because I don't love Faithful Breath, however, I love the hell outta "Gold 'N' Glory"(and to a certain extent its 1985 follow-up "Skol" LP)!!! So if you're a fan of classic European metal, 80's German metal, proto-power metal, etc., and have not heard "Gold 'N' Glory" you MUST add it to your list! If you've had a bad experience with F. Breath(bought one of their early LPs and didn't like it, etc.), just set that memory aside in your mind. Because "Gold 'N' Glory" is a shining gem of early 80's Euro-metal and it deserves far more respect. In the end you may consider F. Breath a "one album wonder" and that's just fine, because at least that one wonderful album is being heard....

Faithful Breath - Gold n' Glory - 40%

ConorFynes, August 23rd, 2011

As the 70's faded away into the prog-phobic 80's, many progressive rock acts realized that the only way they would be able to keep swimming would be to swim with the rest of the fish, and by that, meaning to change their sound to appeal to the new market. As was the case for Genesis and Yes, many bands went the route of going from prog to pop, a move which in some cases turned to be quite disastrous on an artistic level. Faithful Breath was a German prog rock band from the early '70s that did indeed change their sound, but not in the way that so many other proggers did. Instead of pop, Faithful Breath went for the new growing sound of heavy metal, and shown on their album 'Gold n' Glory', it is clear that they were not at all afraid to jump headfirst into this new style. Although Faithful Breath's decision to evolve into a heavy metal act was much better than the pop alternative they could have been however, the band's execution of the style is hopelessly derivative and cheesy, although I will say that there is some enjoyment to reap from this album from the once- proggers.

Anytime Faithful Breath's heavy metal material is mentioned, the German titans Accept are bound to be mentioned, and this is for no small reason either; Faithful Breath seems to have thrown down their old style in the favour of another band's. While it is taken for granted that every musician is influenced by something or someone, Faithful Breath's closeness in sound to Accept goes far beyond mere similarity. to the point where they easily fall within the territory of the copycat; a clone. Complete with rock n' roll lyrics with more cheese to them than a French cuisine platter, these tracks are fast, highly reliant on big choruses, and always have a little guitar solo or riff to keep in line with formula. Truth be told; the songs are not poorly written for what they are, but there really is not much to the music here to be worth more than a couple of listens at best. The necessary inclusion of the token power ballad 'A Million Hearts' is probably the highlight here simply for the fact that it is a breath of fresh air from the rest, but nothing here is bound to lit my heart anytime soon.

Faithful Breath's 'Gold n' Glory' is not a terrible album, but it sounds immensely dated, to a nearly humourous extent; the songwriting and performance here is never impressive, but always functional. Really, 'Gold n' Glory' is a fairly enjoyable piece of generic 80's heavy metal, but nothing more than that, really.

Solid, Tough, and Working Class - 75%

DeathRiderDoom, January 11th, 2010

It’s been since I listened to Faithful Breath, but dammit, this band is overlooked, and forgotten – even by me, and listening to this classic piece of German metal now, I really don’t see why. If you are new to the band, Faithful Breath basically plays German metal in the vein of Accept. Stuff is anthemic and driving, with severely repeated choruses coming up quite often, speed metal smatterings and a vocalist who sounds like Udo. Faithful Breath started off as somewhat of a progressive 70’s rock act waaaaay back a decade or so before this album was released, and changed their style becoming more inline with the en vogue traditional European metal of the time, yet they never experienced anywhere near the success of their counterparts Accept, another working class sounding act, who had been in the game long, and altered their style as time dictated. Even the flash of semi-success that Faithful Breath had was fleeting, with most people seemingly have forgotten about them, while Accept continues to be a popular and talked about band, well into the 2000s.

This strong album, often regarded as their best, or at least their best known, offers little to explain why Faithful Breath didn’t or doesn’t have a tenth of the popularity as their very similar cousins, Accept. Even the ballad ‘A Million Hearts’ though nowhere near present in my (imaginary) list of favorite 80’s metal ballads, is halfway decent, but more importantly sounds like an Accept/U.D.O.ballad. ‘Don’t Feel Hate’ is a melodic, anthemic number, with some sentiment and a guitar tone which reminds me of 80’s Dokken. This one has a powerful, oft repeated, catchy chorus, and brings on the Accept vibe easily, but not as much as the incredibly crunchy and Acceptish ‘Gold ‘n Glory’. This Viking-themed track, is a fist pumping Germanic working class anthem, with shouted aggressive gang sloganry, and classic rock guitar leads, which might I add, are mixed incredibly crystal clear, along with the guitars on this album, and the follow-up Skol. Dokkenish guitar tone and riffage can be found on this track, as well as the most identifiably Acceptish sound of the whole album, arguably.

‘Play the Game’ is one of my favourite numbers; a track that features some emotive, well mixed guitar, an up-tempo, positive feel, and anthemic, chorus heavy delivery. The main riffs in this one slay hard, as do the bridge/intro riffs, that shatter spines. Heinz Mikus’ vocal delivery is always rough, and has that Teutonic sneer to it, but in this track, mixed with the simple chorus and positive, anthemic lyrics, I am reminded of British working class punk bands like Sham 69. We cannot escape Accept comparisons it seems, as the following track ‘Princess in Disguise’, not only sounds exactly like them or U.D.O, but has a title and overall sound very much similar to the track ‘Princess of the Dawn’. Coincidence?

Anyway, this is cool, rock ‘n’ rollish German metal with infinite similarity to Accept. This one, along with Skol and Hard Breath, are known as their best works, and sold a few units back in the day, but nothing next to the monumental Accept. This band has some great guitar, and overall songwriting skill, with a real working class, tough feel, like Saxon et al do (watch for tough riffs in the hard hitting ‘Don’t Drive me Mad’ and others). I’m not sure why these guys never made it big, given all their skill, and similarity to said band. Sure maybe they weren’t quite as consistently speedy, or they perhaps were lumped in with ‘the oldies’ of German metal/rock, (and hence deemed uncool or not fit for the new sound of the 80’s) even though Accept themselves were part of this era/sound. I don’t think either theory holds much water, and I thought I has cracked the reason why when I glanced again at the poorly executed album art on the front cover, but then I remembered some of early Accept’s atrocities, so that can’t be it either. For now, that’s my best theory however. Why don’t you listen to their albums, and tell me? Recommended.