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Killer Power Metal From The Old Days - 85%

brocashelm, December 31st, 2008

A curious signing for Shrapnel, what with their overt lack of emphasis on shred power, California’s Griffin were sword and sorcery metal dudes armed with a tough sound and cool indie vibes. There’s nothing here that Iron Maiden hasn’t done better, but like early Liege Lord, Cirith Ungol or perhaps even Brocas Helm, Griffin have a dedication to orthodox metal in a wonderfully naive dungeons & dragons motif. But what Griffin did have is lot of ballsy guitar thunder and some pretty damn good songs. They also had a damn good singer in William Rodrick McKay, who belts out these horror filled dungeon rock tunes with vigor and a touch of shrieking venom. But the pile-driving tunes here are the real story, the best being the classically anthemic “Heavy Metal Attack,” “Fire In The Sky” and “Hell Runneth Over.” The sound job is pedestrian, not really capturing the potential power of a band with two good guitarists, but there’s enough gritty bile in the band’s performance to compensate for that. A damn good effort not only for it’s day, it stands up well to modern power metal muffins as well. A thrashier and harder to find second album titled Protectors Of The Lair was issued, but it has evaded my grasp (and most people’s) thus far. Courageously sworn to the black!