ALBUM REVIEW: Victor Smolski’s Almanac – Rush Of Death

Speed and heavy metal tend to go hand in hand, so it comes as no surprise that Almanac guitarist Victor Smolski (formerly of German legends Rage) also has a sideline in motor racing. A runner-up in the Supercars division of German Rallycross in 2018/19, Smolski has taken his love of burning rubber and hit the accelerator on the band’s latest album Rush of Death (Nuclear Blast Records).

Right out of the blocks and complete with racing intro, ‘Predator’ is a fuel-injected, heavy metal beast, the vocals split between singers Patrick Sühl and Jeannette Marchewka. Beginning with a pulsing bass intro from Tim Rashid, the title track is a chunky blast of power metal riffery, bursting into life with a truly glorious chorus and an infectious neoclassical solo.

‘Let the Show Begin’ is a short narrated intro which leads into the orchestral groove of ‘Soiled Existence’ where sharp metallic jabs spar with symphonic drama. Marcel Junker adds growls to Sühl’s traditional vocals, the song echoing of Annihilator and Rhapsody along the way.

It’s drummer Kevin Kott‘s turn to open proceedings next on ‘Bought and Sold’, a cut which improves substantially whenever the song takes a turn into the familiar neoclassical territory. Brief intro piece ‘The Human Essence’ segues neatly into ‘Satisfied’, another song straight out of the School of Annihilator combined with a more classical approach. ‘Blink of an Eye’ and ‘Can’t Hold Me Back’ both wait until the chorus to really burst into life, and closer ‘Like a Machine’ drips with Iron Maiden, and features some nimble-fingered jazzy fretwork mixed with classical style arpeggios and power metal sweep picking.

Whether it’s being fast and thrashy, mid-paced and melodic, or just straight-up boneheaded, hard-rockin’ fun, Rush of Death is certain to please. Always neat and precise, the high quality of guitar work comes as no surprise, the expertly played solos ranging from warm and emotive to sounding like volcanoes blowing their top, often in the same song.

7 / 10

GARY ALCOCK