Bullet – Dust To Gold Review

266442Bullet have been around for far more than a decade now, so you’d think they evolved their sound over time. Nope, still the same AC/DC channeling kick ass hard rock/metal as heard in their early days. In this regard they really are following their progenitor; have AC/DC ever not sounded like AC/DC? No. Yet, just like with Bullet‘s first release in 2006, Heading For The Top and every subsequent release by the Swedes, I ask myself: Do we need another AC/DC cover band? I experienced Bullet‘s energy at a live show in 2008 when they toured with Sabaton and the rock stages are where this music breathes and from which it draws its sole right to exist. Is Dust To Gold worth the CD it is pressed on or merely fodder for more live shows?

Dust To Gold‘s concept is grasped easily and quickly: a simple riff leading the song, mostly basic hard rock drumming (think “Thunderstruck”) except when it comes to slightly faster songs, and straightforward choruses you can sing along no matter how many beers you digested during the show. It would be moot going into the deeper compositional facets of Dust To Gold as, plainly speaking, there are no compositional facets. Every song is a copy of its predecessor and all of them are the living legacy of ’80s hard rock spirit. Granted, due to modern hard rock/metal evolution, Bullet are a bit on the heavier side of some rather tame songs considered metal in the ’80s. This in conjunction with singer Hell Hofer’s, well, unique voice, you get a modest, primitive AC/DC/Accept marriage. Hell’s voice reminds of an extremely squealy Udo Dirkschneider – not something for everyone, but in Bullet context it is a powerful performance.

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The album’s average song length caps at 3 minutes, which obviously tells you the way Bullet are going. Short, party themed and party suitable rockers. Which leads me to a certain conclusion: You do not want to listen to this album at home, sitting idly and analysing the compositions. Dust To Gold is diverting with its easy listening tracks but certainly made only for the background soundtrack of your heavy metal house party or to be performed live. Songs like “Speed And Attack”, “Rogue Soldier” and “Highway Love” sound full of energy, however they are blatantly lacking innovation and variety to make Dust To Gold a compelling listening experience. Dust To Gold is a good soundtrack – for metal parties, car drives, live shows, but that’s all. Consider supporting true old school metal by visiting Bullet‘s concerts, the album itself is only a must-have for that one person on earth who has listened to every AC/DC song more than a hundred times. Dust on record, Gold on stage.

Chris, 04/11/2018

Format reviewed: mp3 320 kBit/s | DR Value: 9
Label: SPV
Links: Facebook | bulletrock.com
Release date: 04/20/2018

Unleash The Archers – Apex Review

a2533078055_10By now, word has gotten around in power metal circles that the Canadians Unleash The Archers have released “Apex”, a grandiose insider tip that probably flew under the radar of many average listeners. This is not a big surprise, considering the history of the band, but after closer inspection “Apex” is the result of that same history.

But one at a time: Despite three previous albums Unleash The Archers could not set foot in the scene, which was probably because on their first album “Behold The Devastation”, the band in 2009 performed a relatively uninspired Melodic Death brew, only to weave more and more Power Metal into the songs on the following two albums “Demons of the Astrowaste” in 2012 and “Time Stands Still” in 2015. So the style was unstable and the music mediocre. Even singer Brittney Slayes sounded (spoiler: In contrast to “Apex”) on the first three works amateurish, which was perhaps also due to the suboptimal productions.

This genre development of the Canadians culminated 2017 in the present power piece “Apex”. Power here refers both to the musical orientation as well as to the evaluation of the long player. Listening to the three previous releases and then “Apex,” you wouldn’t think it’s the same band. The Death Metal influences have faded away and now pure Power Metal is delivered. The terrific album artwork suggests Epic Metal, but “Apex” is amazingly fast and straight on. However, with epic you are not wrong, but this is more in the lyrics than in the music again.

“Apex” is a concept album. It tells the story of an immortal being who is summoned from his mount by the matriarch, a mighty figure, to destroy her offspring. So far, so fantasy. Musically there is, thank you, no Manowar chatter and, surprisingly, no keyboard tapestries.

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The opener “Awakening” spells out where the journey is going: high speed riffs, sawing vocals, catchy guitar leads and crashing drums. Singer Brittney Slayes’ vocal acrobatics has improved by about an infinite percent compared to the predecessors, catapulting the charismatic Canadian into the premier league of metal vocalists.

Premier league, if not better, is also the sound on “Apex”. Mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen, Unleash The Archers shows all other bands in the genre how an album should sound. Incredibly dynamic for such a hard-hitting work, which captivates first with its rich sound, but rewarding the multiple listener with accentuated and crystal-clear sounds.

The same applies to the music. Right from the start, each piece persuades right away, especially the seemingly simple power metal bangers like “Awakening”, “Shadow Guide” or “The Matriarch”, but with each further run, complex structures reveal themselves in the genre-unusual songs. It’s easy to build each track similar to the stanza-chorus-stanza-chorus-solo-chorus recipe and still deliver a decent album, but Unleash The Archers do not make life undeservedly easy and enriches each song with its own structure and such its own identity. This is the salient characteristic of “Apex”: Each song is a masterpiece in itself and draws you in from the beginning to the end, but fits just as well into the overall flow of the album.

Unleash The Archers‘ accomplishment is incredible: no less than publishing one of the highlights of 2017 out of nowhere. Anyone who has not had the joy of listening to the Canadian troupe should immediately listen to “Apex”. Here, modern, innovative Power Metal is designed, which comes along without fancy bits and impresses with grandiose compositions and the best sound of a metal album in a long time.

Chris, 02/05/2018

Format reviewed: mp3 320 kBit/s | DR Value: 9
Label: Napalm Records
LinksFacebook | unleashthearchers.com
Release date: 06/02/2017