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Fire Up The Electra Glide... - 78%

CHAIRTHROWER, February 26th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, High Roller Records

Quite often, a band’s name and cover art alone are sufficient to catch my interest. This can certainly be said of the American band Volture, as their Shocking Its Prey EP (2011) drew me in instantly. I remember delighting in the laid back and rocking cheesiness of “Volture” and “Heavy Metal Machine” before stumbling across their first full-length release, On The Edge, in 2013.

Right away, you can tell they’ve polished up their sound (which is often the case between demos and first releases) and applied themselves to delivering a nice, compact and solid effort. On the other hand, the album comes across as slightly too congruous for its own good. Separately, all nine tracks are competent and well laid down. As a whole however, they sound a bit prosaic, adhering to a tried and true method that could still benefit from innovation, if only to unleash the beast I know resides within them. Regardless, Volture's On The Edge makes for an enjoyable listen every now and then (such as at a beer bash!). I wouldn’t quite call it a masterpiece of an album, yet it does have its moments and deserves a look if you’re into old-school traditional metal acts such as Enforcer, Cauldron, or Striker, to name a few.

The album opens up with the ubiquitous self-titled track, and draws you in from the start with its NWOBHM type guitar riffs and Jack Bauer’s high-pitched vocals. It also sets the tone for the remainder of the album’s short duration (roughly 34 minutes) and gives you an idea of what to expect from these Virginians. As I said, the formula to their music is steady and while not mind-shattering, definitely won't disappoint. The main guitar riffs are quite impressive at times (such as on Hot Wired and Heatseeker) even if the the guitar solos -while being adequate and thorough- aren’t particularly spectacular. The same goes for the drums, but I’m sure Barry Cover will hone his skills and come out of his shell a bit more the next time around, while the guitarists will unearth new tricks and stray off the beaten path by developing their axe work. It’s important to remember the band is still in its infancy; the potential and passion is there without a doubt. They certainly don’t deserve to be written off for a couple of understandable shortcomings. The bass, I might add, is most prominent as each note can be clearly discerned while providing a groovy 70s rock style undertow to the songs

On vocals, Jack Bauer does a fairly good job with the exception of crooning a bit too much on “Desert Pursuit” and going overboard with his wails on “Rock You Hard”. That said, most of the time the chorus’ are well construed and project a fun, feel good vibe. A good example can be found on “Ride the Night”, where he paints a fitting image of the band’s bravado:

"We chase the night until the dawn breaks up ahead
The fire burns inside it drives us to the edge
And all I see turns into dust beneath my wheels
The motor runs and the road is all I feel"

He really did his homework as far as hitting proper vocal ranges go and settles himself in comfortably on tracks such as “Brethren of the Coast” and “Hot Wired”. As for the lyrical themes, they range from seedy and lewd undertones (“Heatseeker”) to pirate lore (“Brethren of the Coast”) to straight up rebellion and lawlessness (“Hot Wired”). There’s something for everyone here. Personally, I’m more inclined towards the pure metal blitz of “On The Edge” or “Ride The Night” and the doomsday-themed “Nightrance”.

The rubber really meets the road on “Heatseeker”, by far my favorite track on the album. The main guitar riff sounds totally badass just by its sheer straight-forwardness, which hits with the ballistic impact of a scud missile. If that wasn’t enough, Ryan Waste’s bass playing reaches its apex halfway through the song as it turns on a dime and crosses the finish line with an equally chill riff on behalf of Nick Poulos and Dave Boyd (from Twisted Tower Dire). The confident bass line to “Deep Dweller” is pretty commanding too, closing the album on a high note.

Looking back, On the Edge is indeed a respectably good album and worthy of inclusion in any traditional heavy metal fan’s record collection. Perhaps the next time around, they will mesh the rawness and brawn of their demo with the refined tone of their debut to produce a stand-out sophomore release. I, for one, am keeping my ears peeled in that regards.

On The Edge - 78%

Buarainech, January 31st, 2014

A lot of things have changed in camp Volture since their 2011 Shocking Its Prey EP, not least the dissolution of their label, Heavy Artiller Records, prompting this move to Germany's High Roller for their debut album. There has been some lineup changes to, with the much lauded Brent Hubbard out and the untried and untested Jack Bauer in on vocals and Dave Boyd from US Power Metal crew Twisted Tower Dire adding a second guitar for the first time in the band's (recorded) history. For some that connection will give a new lease to check the band out if they had either believed the negative hype before, or reacted against their positive press, but undoubtedly the shitflingers will still have their day, overplaying the connections to party bands Municipal Waste and Cannabis Corpse. If at the end of this album Volture still have their critics though then that is their loss frankly, not the band's. This is as solid as it gets.

Even fans of the band's previous EP might be rallying against this new effort as I can forsee a lot of people not being convinced with Bauer as a worthy replacement for Brent Hubbard, and holding up the frankly quite weak “Desert Pursuit” as an example, they may have a point. Nearly everywhere else on this album though the new guy proves to be at least the equal of his predecessor, and the vocal lines which become one of Volture's most diverse and strongest elements are a big step up from those on Shocking Its Prey. “Hotwired” would be the best showing of this were it not for the marching pace of closing epic number “Deep Dweller” that combined with the unique “whoa-oh-oh” vocals and sweet melodic guitar tone give off something of a US Power Metal vibe, somewhere in between Attacker and Warlord. Anyone wanting to write this off as yet another Tokyo Blade-derivative Enforcer clone is not going to have an easy time of it.

Compared to their Swedish brethren Volture are much less concise and focussed in their musical approach and sometimes shaky in their execution of riskier musical ideas, and that perhaps is the deciding factor in the Swedes ultimately remaining the better of the 2 bands. One idea that doesn't quite pay off is the slower tempos at the start of “Heat Seeker”, though it does redeem itself as a mid-tempo rocker not unlike a more sleazed-up High Spirits. Follow-up track “Rock You Hard” doesn't quite manage the same though and becomes the sort of filler that was so much easier to avoid on the band's previous and much shorter release.

Elsewhere the only criticism I can make are minor- for example as much as I love how the chorus refrain to “Brethren Of The Coast” comes in the verse rather than the chorus I do think it could benefit from a few more repetitions just for maximum effect. The fact is though it can't bring down a track so strong in every other respect, from the nice and varied vocal performance to the obviously Maiden-influenced guitar leads that are so appropriate for a nautical themed song. The opening title track is also worth mentioning for how it out-Swedes the Swedes at their own game for adding a slight Overdrive/Gotham City streak to its otherwise Enforcer-style speedy attack, but my single favourite moment on the album comes with righteous pre-chorus riff to “Nightrance” that seemingly utilises every single fret on the neckboard. At the end of the album the unfortunate thing transpires that Volture may have spread themselves too thick on this album, and in their haste to prove themselves different to their contemporaries by hook or by crook they have failed to add a unifying factor or theme to this collection of songs. If nothing else though On The Edge will prove their haters wrong- forget them as bit players in the modern Heavy Metal scene- there is absolutely no foolin' around from Volture. [7/10]

From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts