Telling you all you need to know in one gaudy technicolour piece of cover art, the new album by metal legend Ross the Boss features chains, fire, exploding rocks, a semi-naked woman and a giant winged demon. In fact, the only missing items required for a True Metal Bingo are muscular warrior types and a giant eagle.
Born of Fire (AFM Records), the fourth full-length release from the former Manowar guitarist’s eponymously titled band, delivers everything promised on the cover in a deluge of riffs and piercing vocals. From the short, frantic bursts of ‘Glory to the Slain’, ‘I Am the Sword’, and the pounding title track, to the punchy blues groove of the ridiculously titled ‘Demon Holiday’, and ‘Waking the Moon’ to the epic ‘Maiden of Shadows’ with its Celtic tones and choral backing, and moody closer ‘The Blackest Heart’, you’re never more than a few seconds away from a trademark Marc Lopes scream, or another top-quality heavy fucking metal solo courtesy of the main man himself.
‘Fight the Fight’ sounds like something Sanctuary could have released back in the late ’80s (that’s a compliment by the way), ‘Denied by the Cross’ has a strong rhythm and sounds like British thrashers Onslaught, ‘Godkiller’ is lightweight but enjoyable, the slightly disappointing ‘Shotgun Evolution’ has brief echoes of his former band, but the brilliant ‘Undying’ gives us a classic gallop riff and a great melody.
A simple, clear production highlights Steve Bolognese‘s relentless drumming, and some superb bass work from Mike LePond (occasionally reminiscent of someone not a million away from Ross’s furry loin-clothed past). All this and some suitably silly lyrics keep the adrenaline surging even though the album’s weaker moments. Undemanding but infectious, Born of Fire is high octane, pure, uncut US power metal.
8 / 10