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Big Lively Groovy Injection - 84%

bayern, April 16th, 2017

It beats me why Rob Halford left Judas Priest to embark on his own musical journey; Fight’s debut sounded so similar to the Priests’ “Jugulator” that the least likely reason for this separation must have been musical differences. Anyway, I guess the Metal God wanted to give his contribution to the new music trends earlier rather than waiting for several years for these aggro sounds to pass, like what his colleagues most likely thought would occur. Those sounds didn’t pass, but established themselves firmly on the metal field, and the more sagacious artists from the 80’s rose to the challenge and had to shed their skin to fit into the groovy/post-thrashy carnival.

In his quest for modern metal glory, Halford took the drummer Scott Travis with him from the Judas line-up, and later teamed up with two members from the power/thrash metal formation Cyanide who never missed the chance to put their names on the metal map working with the legend. “War of Words” was a perfectly acceptable record, well conformed with the modern power/thrash fodder with one eye fixed upon the classic metal canons, and was a headstart for the new/old outfit for whom the future by all means looked bright. However, the band were full of surprises, looking for other territories to explore…

In the context of what was going around at the time, the album reviewed here was a fairly relevant affair in all its entirety. By 1995 the groove had settled in so comfortably into the audience’s consciousness that there were hardly a handful of detractors left to spit at it and its representatives. It’s very unlikely for the retro metal fanbase to have been enormously offended by it, and I’m quite sure that there were more fans who actually liked it than the number of those who hated it with passion. Cause there was not much to hate here if you think of it… “I Am Alive” is a stomping steam-roller with doomy reverberations with Halford sounding attached and emotional enough to propel this number into the “good openers” stratosphere, especially on the more laid-back interludes. The expectations for another intense thrashing inauguration along the lines of “Into the Pit” from the previous effort should be packed and stored somewhere as this would be an entertainment of a different kind, with a focus on the dark, more atmospheric side of the genre. “Mouthpiece” goes heavy on the thick grooves which still sound dynamic and bouncy, and would by all means make the less lethargic jump around in approval.

“Legacy of Hate” carries on with the groovy caravan, adding more post-thrashy drama to it, with Halford pitching it higher to a really positive effect. “Blowout in the Radio Room” is the track that gets the most diatribe from the purists, and indeed it can pass for the filler with its leisurely careless radio-friendly “demeanour”; but right after it comes “Never Again” which almost matches, and also resembles, Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction” with its urgent introductory riffs, more aggressive attitude, and the great chorus with Halford leaving his soul behind the mike. The title-track is an excellent alternative metal opus Halford’s synthesized vocals one of the several indicators that this isn’t Retrometalland anymore, in case of someone still had any illusions about that, despite the more intense thrashy riffs springing up here and there. “Gretna Greene” continues in the same lively vein the volcanic rhythm-section marching remorselessly forward, sparing no one along the way which gets balladically quiet for a bit in the middle, but elsewhere this is a vigorous cut bordering on thrash again, a probable leftover from the “War of Words” sessions. “Beneath the Violence” is even sharper with evil gallops disturbing the peace, reaching headbanging proportions later; the sure highlight without any unnecessary stopovers except for the interesting trad doom metal epitaph. “Human Crate” is a superb doom metal semi-ballad following the marvellous path carved by “For All Eternity” from its predecessor, but this one is more sombre and more hammering. “In a World of My Own Making” is now a full-blooded ballad although the heavy riffs dominate the landscape at some stage; watch out for the hidden track “Psycho Suicide” after that, a stunning thrash/crossover anthem that will make even the most cynical critics’ blood boil, and a most assuring finale to this compelling modern metal roller-coaster.

The classic shades from the debut were gone the guys not willing to impede their modernist visions with old school nostalgia, and to these ears they had created something equally as intriguing. The Metal God doesn’t exactly beat his past exploits, but he sounds quite comfortable with the dense groovy approach also experimenting with new gimmicks (the mentioned synthesized lines) that wouldn’t have been appropriate on the Judas albums. The only performer who seemed to not be utilized fully was Travis as the lack of any speedy “excursions” barely gave him any chances to rip the drums like he usually does. Regardless, the whole crew had gelled really well sounding in-vogue although the diehard fanbase had by all means turned their backs on this opus due to the absence of any more aggressive fast-paced “skirmishes”, and the very simplistic, stripped-down execution.

The music world was changing, and Halford had no intentions on putting his head underground like an ostrich, pretending that nothing was going on around him. Fight definitely had more life in them, but the man had other plans about his evolution, and partnered with none other than Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) for the creation of Two, a controversial industrial project which ruined his reputation almost beyond repair. Having reached the bottom, there was nothing left for the fallen God but to rise and go back to what he used to do best, to sing some first-rate classic heavy metal under his own name initially, and to welcome the new millennium with all the retro optimism he could muster leading to the logical reunion with his comrades from Judas Priest. There was a lot of “fighting” through the inhospitable metal “jungle” of the 90’s for him, and this “space” here can surely be considered one of his “small” victories.