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From Beauty to Turpitude, Pt. 6 - 75%

Xyrth, May 22nd, 2018

Faithful Breath's final studio LP saw the German veterans return to their wacky Viking image, finding it more suitable than Patrick Meeze's B movie-styled airbrush painting used in Gold 'n' Glory. A shame, really. Or maybe not, as a sitting (and purportedly drunk) Heinz Mikus in Viking attire provides a good laugh, drinking and toasting up to the onlooker, like a victorious conqueror after successfully pillaging an unsuspecting village. That is the image more associated with Faithful Breath, truth be told, rivaling Manowar in terms of both coolness and cheesiness in that aspect, even though the Germans catalogue was miles away from the Americans in terms of quality and memorability. Skol is perhaps the better known of all studio Faithful Breath's releases in part thanks to its easy to remember short title and funny cover, and also because, at this point they were already better known in comparison to their obscure early prog rock years.

Skol picks up exactly where Gold 'n' Glory left us, with the metal element prevailing over the hard rock aesthetic, though some of that still appears on a few occasions, like in the AC/DC-esque opener “Start It Up” or “Crazy in Metal”. The faster, more metallic tunes, like “Double Dealer”, “Backstreet Heroes” or “Inside Out”, continue to blatantly ape Accept's sound, and even with the consent of Udo, it rests Faithful Breath points for their lack of originality. It goes without saying they never composed anything better than their fellow countrymen. Udo no longer acts as producer here, replaced by Gerd Rautenbach, whose work feels a little muddier and less compressed to Dirkschneider's, fuzzier and with more reverb. Can't say it is really an improvement or a step back from Udo's work in Gold ‘n’ Glory as neither release proves to be something more than generic hard rock/heavy metal, but personally I favor Udo's clearer job.

Again, we have the mandatory anthemic power ballad in “We Want You” to further demonstrate this band's total intent in sounding as generic and clichéd as possible. As a unit, the band does show greater cohesion than ever before, with a couple of solid new performers; Thilo Hermann on guitars and Peter Dell on bass, who proved to be their best at their position in the history of Faithful Breath. Hermann's resume would end up being impressive in the future, and both musicians would go to continue with bandleader Mikus and skin-basher Jürgen Düsterloh when they decided to take further and greater… ehm… Risk. Düsterloh had always sounded like a good choice of a drummer since entering the line-up for 1983's Hard Breath, and he is one of the reasons this album doesn't sucks as much as it should given its total lack of fresh ideas and good results. He would become even better in Risk. Mikus soloing gets more exciting here as well, and he even attempts some dual-guitar harmonies with Hermann, as experienced during the proto-Running Wild-esque title-track.

Despite its shortcomings, Skol proved to be the harder and heavier Faithful Breath studio album, and it's a decently engaging release that can probably please any fan of 80s Judas Priest and Accept, its two primary sources of inspiration, though personally I still favor Gold 'n' Glory since I find its compositions a bit more fun… though equally generic. Even though the end finally came to the Faithful Breath moniker (well, after their '86 Live release), a triumphant Heinz Mikus, on his temporary throne, seems to express “we're not done yet, you bastards!”

Unfaithful, Flippant, Chameleonic Risk-Takers - 84%

bayern, June 28th, 2017

This outfit are the second oldest heavy metal outfit on German soil after Scorpions. Line up those pints of various kinds of German beer quickly! Cheers! A few minutes’ time off until you finish all those…

All right now, those of you who are still relatively sober, or cheerfully inebriated can continue reading, but please don’t forget to take regular breaks in order to carry on drinking. Cheers again, or rather Skol! So our friends here were also having a pretty good time during the-70’s and beyond spreading their friendly progressive rock anthems for nearly ten years before they decided that they might as well take a turn towards the more fashionable heavy metal, the way their peers The Scorps did, only much earlier…

This decision took more tangible proportions in 1984 when “Gold’n Glory” was released, an infectious hard’n heavy slab giving their colleagues a good run for their money, including Scorpions again and Accept. Consolidation of their growing reputation was necessary, and the album review here became a fact. Another solid collection of boisterous heavy metal anthems, it saw the guys marching confidently alongside myriad other similar practitioners. Alhough the influences from the two mentioned bands are more than obvious, there’s nothing like the good old catchy hard’n heavy hymn which “Start it Up” (yes, the opener) epitomizes so well with the bouncy rhythms, the screamy leads and the staple catchy chorus. Heinz Mikus has never been the most emotional performer behind the mike, but his semi-attached clean baritone works just fine accompanying the feelgood, unpretentious musical approach. “Double Dealer” speeds up moving the heads, the band nearly reaching the aggressive swagger of Scorpions’ “Dynamite”. “Lady M.” swings towards Motorhead-like boogie, a frolic roller-coaster with loads of energy; and “Rock Rebels” tries to justify the “rock” part of its title by toning it down a bit with bits and pieces of cheese showing up on the sides. “We Want You” is a bouncy heavy ballad of epic proportions, and “Inside Out” is the next in line uplifting heavy rocker. “Crazy in Metal” is the least “crazy” piece here, actually, a mild hard rock pleaser, but “Backstreet Heroes” is a nice vigorous power/speedster with aggressive, hyper-active guitars that are well translated on the closing title-track which is a sure speed metal winner, a variation the guys developed very well a mere few months later…

What the band were doing was pretty acceptable, mind you, well conformed with the tastes and trends on the field, but apparently the success and profits had already been distributed among the big players from the heavy metal sector prompting our friends to seek “gold’n glory” elsewhere. They very sagaciously felt in which direction the winds were blowing, and embraced the more aggressive speed/thrashy currents by also changing their moniker to Risk. A “risky” decision for sure, but one that brought many fine moments for the speed/thrash metalheads around the world who were listening to “the daily horror news” and were warding off dangerous “hell’s animals” thanks to these highly energetic, also biting and ferocious, tunes.

The thrashy period from the band’s career kind of overshadowed their feats as heavy metal defenders, but I’m sure there are quite a few fans, including Mikus and Co. themselves, out there who fondly remember those days when playing the good old heavy metal wasn’t a risky proposition at all, and when moshing around was usually accompanied by loads of beer and other intoxicating booze. Skol!

Faithful Breath - Skol - 30%

ConorFynes, August 23rd, 2011

Faithful Breath is a German band that put out a progressive rock record in the early 70's, and just as quickly, changed their sound into something else entirely. Fast forward a decade or so, and the band is barely recognizable from what they used to be. While its established that many surviving prog rock bands from the 70's changed their sound in order to keep up with the crowds in the 80's, most of those bands became pop outfits, whereas Faithful Breath went down the route of heavy metal. While this would tend to be a more personally promising prospect than hearing a prog band dumb down their sound to the four chord wonder, my first experience with the band's heavy metal material 'Gold n' Glory' indicated to me that there was not all too much to be excited about here. 'Skol' was released the year following 'Gold n' Glory', and right before they decided to change their name and start fresh as the speed metal act Risk. 'Skol' is a weak album from the proggers-turned- hard rockers, and virtually drowned in dated 80's hair appeal. While I still can't call Faithful Breath's material 'horrible', this is a clear step down from the comparatively fun 'Gold n' Glory'.

While I still was not a big fan of Faithful Breath on 'Gold n' Glory', I could enjoy it at least as fun, concise heavy metal; an obscure album that was all too lost in its era. 'Skol' changes their sound up a bit, but for the worse; the songs here sound like they have been taken down a notch in terms of speed and relative heaviness. Instead of a purely heavy metal album, this has now dipped beneath the threshold, into hard rock. The songs are more mid-tempo, there is less excess with the solos, and most things seem to have been toned down, if only a little bit. In any case, this is enough to make 'Skol' a weaker incarnation of Faithful Breath than its predecessor. The lyrics here are laughable, and the songwriting is extremely formulaic, relying mostly on the repetition of the usually gang-chanted choruses, wherein the band usually calls out the title of the song. Sound pretty familiar?

The band's performance here is not memorable, although its not bad at all, for what it is. However, the lacking sense of identity on 'Skol' does nothing for me, and Faithful Breath would remain a lacking Accept clone to the very end. Luckily, their music under the new name of Risk would be better.

Accept-sounding German Metal - 75%

DeathRiderDoom, May 18th, 2009

Faithful Breath – Skol

Faithful Breath is another one of those good, but not overly amazing obscure 80’s heavy hetal bands. Their ninth official release however, gives them a far greater catalogue than many bands that fall into this grouping. Skol is a fairly strong album with a variety of songs it including a sailor/pirate anthem as the title song, with smatterings of speed metal throughout.

‘Start it Up’ is an excellent opening track, with a riff to kick things off that reminds me of late 80’s Dokken (Read: Back for the Attack). The structure of the vocals and indeed the vocalist himself sound very much like Accept, as do the tempo and drum mixing, with a punchy kick that could be likened to any Accept number of the same period. ‘Double Dealer’, another strong number, is a speed- metal track with tonnes of Accept overtones, and by this stage in the album (track two), you may realize that this band is incredibly influenced by Accept (and why not). But this is probably more than most purists who can’t stand obvious influences from a stalwart band can handle. It seems to fairly common with German speed/heavy metal bands of the early to mid 80s to have strong Priest/Accept/Maiden influences coming through, but for me that’s part of the enjoyment.

‘Rock Rebels’ is perhaps the anthem of the album, and again is very much comparable to Accept. It’s also got a powerful U.S. kinda feel to it. “Join the rock rebels, boys in black leather” is very much an Accept feeling lyric, but that’s not something I mind too much. Faithful Breath’s first release came out over ten years earlier, and much of this sound may be due to their own natural progression rather than simply ‘ripping off’ Udo and the boys.

‘We Want You’ is a slower number with layering of guitars and a Scorpions live anthem feel. “We want you to wave your hands now” etc. While holding nothing against slower numbers, this is probably the albums lowest point, with much of the lyrics being pretty generic ‘hard rock’ sorta ground and nothing too inspiring on guitar either.

‘Crazy in Metal’ is an excellently titled heavy metal anthem with everything in the song done well. Yet again this is incredibly Accept-like in terms of the overall feel, but especially the vocals. “Shout it out!!!!-Crazy in Metal!!!”-Brilliant. The chorus is incredibly catchy and is very much ‘Fists in the Air’ Classic heavy metal. There’s some interesting interplay with the guitars, yet the solo is almost anti-climactic; nothing too inventive or standing out. If wanting to check out a song from the album, perhaps grab this one.

The remainder of the material on the album is perhaps topped by ‘Backstreet Heroes’ a gritty, back-alley song about screwing, drinking and partying, executed with speed metal pace and some Judas Priest influence. A melodic solo and some dirty lyrics again in the tradition of Accept make this one a winner. Very catchy, and simplistic, this one will get stuck in your head along with ‘Crazy in Metal’.

In summation, Skol is anthemic speed metal very much similar to Accept. Nothing but simple, hard hitting anthems of the early/mid 80’s style. The title tracks pirate-like themes may well be a forerunner to Running Wild’s all-out Pirate Metal attack, as at this stage, their lyrics predominantly comprised satanic imagery. On the similarity to Accept, I would argue that this isn’t a bad thing; Faithful Breath has their origins very early, like Accept, and perhaps came about much of their sound in this album parallel to Accept, rather than directly deriving from it. Also, even if Faithful Breath derived some of its signature sound from Accept, who wouldn’t have? I’m sure Accept were a phenomenal source of inspiration for fellow ‘Kraut-metallers’, particularly at this time as they had just released several albums or remarkable importance, and were tearing the world up on tour. Also, while it not be the most noblest thing to derive a lot of your sound from a particular band or bands, and you may not be as well respected for it, this doesn’t mean you can’t release excellent music. Well worth checking out as the more obscure Accept, or for Running Wild fans.