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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....