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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.