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Fairly competent, if forgettable, NWOBHM/retro HM - 70%

Jophelerx, December 21st, 2015

The coolest thing about this release is that it's so early 80s; if it weren't for the slick modern production, I could believe that this was coming out somewhere in the '80-'84 era. I don't really hear any influences here from post-'84, which is crazy as hell to hear from a demo that came out just a couple of months ago. Warlok is the project of Matt Edwards, who has a ton of other projects I've never heard of, but this seems to be his only non-extreme metal project (that has a release as of writing this, at least). It's definitely not bad for a first stab at trad metal from a one-man band, but I won't say it's amazing or even all that great. The production could be a lot better; the guitars are annoyingly slick for something in this style - I'd definitely prefer something much rawer as would be fitting for NWOBHM/trad metal from '80-'84, and the drums are a bit too high in the mix too, I think. Additionally, Edwards' vocals here are technically good but kind of plastic-sounding, with no real emotion behind them. My suggestion to Edwards if he happens to read this: mix and master your next release more like an early 80s album, with a more raw, organic sound, and hire another vocalist. Nothing at all personal against Edward or his vocals, but he needs to either put more emotion in his voice or find someone better for the next release in order to improve.

The songs themselves are basically more muscular Angel Witch/Diamond Head stuff (there may be a better comparison - I'm not a huge NWOBHM expert, feel free to let me know if you think there's a more appropriate reference, with relevant links to comparisons). It's simple, straightforward stuff, with fun riffs in that classic dual guitar harmony style, but nothing that would really make it stand out from the pack, either. This is above-average but not stand-out NWOBHM stuff; I know it's only a first release that's a 3-song demo, which is why I've put some suggestions in here. I think the musicianship as far as the guitars is quite good, just kick the songwriting up a notch and do something about those vocals - I definitely like to see bands that want to rekindle the old trad metal spirit, and the heart of this release/project is 100% in the right place, so I'll definitely keep an eye on it. Worth checking out, but only really worth repeat listens if you're hardcore into NWOBHM.