Former Manowar guitarist Ross the Boss returns with all guns blazing on Conquered Lands (Steel Cartel), the third full-length release from his subtly named Death Dealer project. In a gloriously predictable manner, the riffs come thick and fast as gods, blood, battles and all other true metal necessities rain down like exploding magma from the skies.
Denner/Shermann is the eponymous project of original Merciful Fate guitarists Michael Denner and Hank Shermann, Ex-King Diamond/Merciful Fate Drummer Snowy Shaw returning to the kit. It seems obvious that their latest offering Masters of Evil (Metal Blade) is going to sound a wee bit like Merciful Fate. Masters of Evil follows on from 2012’s Satan’s Tomb and it’s pretty clear that they’re going back to that original dark sound and occult lyrical themes: although possibly a bit too much.
Now with the impressive array of musical talent on show with this album it was never going to sound bad, the guitar work is phenomenal at nearly every turn, impressive crunchy guitar riffs, inspiring Solo’s, everything you’d expect. The powerhouse drums are incredibly solid and hold the whole band together, although considering how long they’ve worked together I can’t imagine it takes a lot. The standout for me has to be the vocals from Sean Peck (also of Cage) which are an absolute tour de force, and fortunately for me much more on the Rob Halford side of high-pitched falsetto screaming vocals than King Diamond.
This is pretty much standard heavy metal territory, you know exactly what you’re going to get from track to track, it does what it does extremely well but expect no surprises. Whilst musically this is brilliant, and bristles with inventiveness that is in sharp contrast to the lyrics. Indeed, they cram so much fretboard gymnastics into each song it almost makes every song bleed into each other: it can’t be overstated that technically this is ridiculously good!
What really lets Master of Evil down for me, is the Hammer House of Horror formulaic Satan inspired lyrics. Even by track 2, the thought that the mention of Satan is starting to wear thin, and almost every single track is about Satan in some way. Even a few songs into the album it starts to give the feel of them trying too hard to recreate the old days and it starts to feel very much the same ideas on repeat.
It’s easy to see why the EP was well received because with fewer tracks to listen to That formulaic feel doesn’t kick in. With the album it does and outstays its welcome. With their attempt clearly to recreate the old days the question can be asked does it fail to deliver on the promise or does it deliver too well? A brilliant EP possibly stretched a bit too thin meaning it’s easy to turn off, and more easily forgotten.
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