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NWOBHM PERFECTION - 95%

The_Sandwitch, December 4th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, High Roller Records

OUTLAW has quickly become one of my favorite new bands, and they've only got one demo and one album to date; "Marauders". Why this is is quite simple: front-man, and composer of all Outlaw material, Lee Anvel, crafts catchy amped-up NWOBHM songs that stay loyal to that sub-genre, and the band realizes these with precision and awe-inspiring energy - producing one of the most fun listening experiences you can have.

The demo "Speed Calls" was instant playlist material for me - with it's three anthemic, fist-pumping, adrenaline-fueled songs that satisfies the need for a particular style of heavy metal that resonates with metalheads of all kinds, due to it's golden-age roots. Now this album elaborates on the great demo, collecting songs that take stabs at all the popular styles of NWOBHM that paved the way for metal to come.

Singer Lee Anvel channels Rob Halford in his delivery method most of the time, but also changes things-up to best suit the song. You can tell he really loves this classic sound of metal, and is trying to craft each song under the guidance of all the countless bands that came before him; which shouldn't be a deterrent for anyone reading this - it just means you're in good hands here with this band. If you're at all a fan of this genre of metal, you'll fall into your comfort zone immediately.

Lee's writing style is a breath of fresh air too; relying on subtle transitions and an atypical style of lyric-structure that doesn't rhyme, and is almost Shakespearean in it's word interplay. Lyrics can totally ruin the song, even if you're got the most amazing music behind it, so it's a testament to Lee's songwriting ability to make you wanna sing along to something that's not at all cheesy, un-charismatic, or embarrassing. Take for instance the title-track. Lee knows exactly how to structure poetic sentences to get the most out of them; making certain sentences sound like they've been handed-down by wordsmith angels to bless ears; a skill akin to the metal god Rob Halford himself. Lee’s words add weighty substance behind the already majestic wall of sound, and with the track “Tyrants Of Ice” it feels like he’s channeling fantastical pulp-novels penned by Robert E. Howard; a master of the written word.

It becomes evident Lee is a true fan of the different styles of NWOBHM, of which there are many - and with this album, it seems he wants to showcase all of them. It's also a great compliment to Lee's songwriting ability to craft songs that makes you emotional listening to it. I was crying tears of joy listening to “Heroes Of Telemark”. Not only does it give you aural pleasure, there is the added bonus of creating mental visuals through lyrical storytelling.

The only flaw of this album is that it omits songs "Future Wars" and "Iron Outlaws", both off the great demo. Maybe because Lee Anvel is the driving force behind all the production with Outlaw, and that he's also busy with his many other bands - who knows. It's such a disappointment to me to have such a fine slab of material without what I think-of as children being left out in the cold. So, I'm deducting some points from what could have been the all-around perfect album.

If I’m even more critical, I would have done without the song “Vice”, which suffers from misplaced identity. It really sounds like something Thin Lizzy would write. Nothing wrong with Thin Lizzy, but their sound (of which has influenced countless NWOBHM bands) sounds out of place here among a group of songs from the heavier side of things. Still good though, but feels at home in a pub rather than an arena.

This album should be mandatory for people like me who love the charming appeal of bands from that by-gone era of metal. You're gonna get what Outlaw is now synonymous for with these songs: amazing melodies, amazing vocals, amazing solos, amazing rhythms, and amazing creative lyrical touches. It’s also amazing how Outlaw's take on proven ground sounds fresh and rejuvenating, even if some songs fall into metal clichés. Lee Anvel has been quoted saying the next Outlaw album will lean towards a US power metal feel, which is fine by me. I have a feeling that album’s gonna kick some ass too – this one definitely makes you believe it.