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Heavy metal is Still Alive! - 95%

Trashy_Rambo, October 21st, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Underground Power Records (Bandcamp)

It's really rare for a new, traditionally styled heavy metal band to really grab me. Between endless, inferior imitations of the genre's legends and production values that rarely sit well with me, it can be a bit of a slog sometimes. Although admittedly there's really not much new ground to be broken with this style, not every band is automatically doomed. Bands whose influences are immediately obvious can still be good, provided that the songwriting is solid and the derivation isn't too egregious. This is one of those bands.

First, and most importantly, let's talk about the fucking riffs! This album has them in spades! From the Maiden-ish opening volley of Reaching for the Night, to the NWOBHM swagger of the title track, you'll be banging your head from start to finish! Von Jugel and Steve "Lethal" Beaudette are definitely a duo to watch in the coming years, and they can really do no wrong here. Frequent lead guitar flourishes make things feel a bit wild at times (In a good way of course), and the solos are nothing to sneeze at either! The extended solo in Still Alive is easily my favorite of the bunch, perfectly complimenting the tension of the lyrics while providing just a pinch of delicious shred.

Mandy Martillo is an excellent heavy metal frontwoman in the tradition of greats like Leather Leone and Doro Pesch, but it would be a huge disservice to leave it at that! She owns this thing, and I feel like she's just getting started. The lyrics here are fairly dark, mostly dealing with occult and horror themes, and she really sells it perfectly. Still Alive just drips tension. Even though I think lyrics about rocking/partying/etc are pretty silly and cliche, I don't even mind when they pop up in Hot Passion, because it just sounds so damned good.


Albums of this style tend to benefit from being on the shorter side, and the songs here average about 3:40, so they never have time to get old. Between the rock solid songwriting, excellent amount of variety, and the exuberant energy that permeates the entire thing, I really can't recommend it enough. Easily one of my favorite albums of 2017.

Highlights:
Reaching for the Night
The Horror
Still Alive
Beyond the Bells