Hells Headbangers – Out Now.
First formed in Arlington Virginia back in 1995, October 31 are a Heavy Metal outfit whose music is a tribute to 80s Metal, both in terms of sound employed and the overall approach to song-writing.
It is as a result of the band’s stubborn insistence in leaving all commercial considerations aside when recording music that a major breakthrough has thus far eluded them, but it is that very attitude that has helped shape their character and has won them a small but loyal fan base along the way.
This very fan base will be pleased to know that, after a nine year ‘drought’, the band is ready to present us, with the assistance and support of Hells Headbangers records, ten new compositions under the title “Bury The Hatchet”.
Those of you who are well acquainted with the band’s previous work will realise quite early on while listening to this ten track release that no major musical ‘departures’ can be observed here.
With main focus once again placed on King Fowley’s harsh vocal deliveries and Matt Ibach’s heavy-sounding riffs, the band brings to life one classic-sounding riff after another, with some, as expected, sounding more original and thematically interesting than others.
What scores this album a few much needed points, apart from the obvious passion and energy with which the said songs are performed, is the band’s ability to operate in an area that borders between classic Heavy Metal and Thrash, introducing in the process themes and ideas that some of their 80s-influenced contemporaries might shy away from.
Featuring an up-tempo dynamic riff and with King Fowley in fine vocal form, “Tear Ya Down” is a Rock’n’Roll influenced Heavy Metal piece that helps open the album in dynamic fashion while follow up “Bury The Hatchet” might be slightly slower in tempo but features a riff that is heavier and much more memorable in comparison.
My addiction to “Down At Lover’s Lane” was almost instantaneous and that should not simply be attributed onto the Iron Maiden influenced guitar melody present, but also in the impressive way with simple keyboard tunes support the vocal melody that dominates the song’s refrain.
“Under The Gun” starts life as an equally promising tune and would have appealed equally to me had Fowley not presented an out-of-key vocal melody during the song’s break but, thankfully, things improve significantly in “The House Where Evil Dwells” – a songs whose melodies still wrings into my head as I prepare this very review.
Fans of W.A.S.P will almost certainly enjoy the lead guitar work in the up-tempo piece “Growing Old” while Brian Williams’ leads in “Gone To The Devil” bare influences by the mighty Overkill. The second highlight of the album comes in the shape of “Arsenic On The Rocks”, another Maiden-sounding piece filled with catchy melodies and riffs of pure head banging nature while the somewhat less impressive duet “Voodoo Island” / “Angel Dusted” still manages to offer the intended listener with a few interesting themes as a parting gift of sorts.
Every time I listen to “Bury The Hatchet”, and I have happily done so many times over the last couple of weeks, I think of it as a collection of classic-sounding Metal songs that may not always surprise with their innovative approach but which are always guaranteed to put a smile on the face of all people who enjoy Heavy Metal in its most pure/undiluted form.
As was the case with their previous three full-length albums, “Bury The Hatchet” will not be the catalyst that will attract a massive number of new fans onto the band’s cause but it is one whose passion and quality will ensure that the fine bond which exists between the band and its loyal fans will remain healthy and strong.
Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)
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