SPV/Steamhammer [Release date 13.09.19]
Germany has long been a hotbed for rock and metal, with the Scorpions, Accept, Doro and Bonfire leading the way and the huge Waken Open Air festival bringing Teutonic thunder to the world. Celebrating their 25th anniversary Mob Rules have added their own admirable with to the country’s glowing musical heritage and, with live album ‘Beast over Europe’, certainly cement their place in the super league.
Recorded at various venues, this thirteen-track romp through their back-catalogue cherry picks some of the band’s finest moments. Whilst labelled ‘power metal’ there’s a solid base of traditional 80’s influenced hard rock and metal to what they do, bringing a cross generational appeal to their material. Opener ‘Ghost of a Chance’ exemplifies this approach and is a full-on melodic throwback in style to the NWOBHM era but much more polished, harmony guitars and foot to the floor mentality. ‘Somerled’ has more of a Thin Lizzy ‘Celtic Rock’ feel, bagpipes skirl as the sight of rugged coastlines and centuries old castles fill the imagination, so much so you can practically feel the burning warmth of the whisky as the band play. The Gregorian Chant at the start of ‘Black Rain’ continues the theme of ancient times and this juxtaposition of the very old and the new is something that crops up throughout the release. On this latter track, bass player Marcus Brinkmann and drummer Nikolas Fritz really whip up a maelstrom as guitarists Floria Dyszballs and Sven Ludke add the lightning drama to their thunder.
Whilst certainly not overcooked or hammy, Mob Rules could never be accused of understatement as everything seems to be played with such gusto and commitment that each song is an epic. ‘Sinister Light’ swaggers and features great interplay between the guitarists and keys player Jon Christian Halfbrodt, whilst ‘Dykemaster’s Tale’ highlights their multi-faceted storytelling prowess that takes things beyond the standard fare. There are nice touches throughout as ‘My Kingdom Come’ mixes metal, folk and prog into a heady brew, also lifting the band above a lot of their peers in terms of imagination. Throughout, Klaus Dirks is the consummate ringmaster, his commanding vocals and infectious enthusiasm whipping up the baying audiences as he leads Mob Rules into musical battle. Amongst the dirt and grime of their hard rock styling is a sheen a polished steel that glints in the stage lighting, the soaring guitar work on ‘The Last Farewell’ and the diamond cutting power of ‘Children’s Crusade’ bringing and edge to the heaviness that is scalpel sharp.
The band certainly know how to do epic as ‘In the Land of Wind and Rain’ and ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ echo the sort of grandiose, huge prog metal that Iron Maiden do so well, both leaving a hefty impression. Fan favourite, the sea shanty-like ‘Rain Song’ closes with a joyous finish to the set, all adding up to the perfect introduction to a band who are, as of yet, somewhat less well known that some of their fellow countrymen and women. Like a very few truly special live albums, this really captures the Mob Rules well in front of an audience and is best listened to wearing headphones, a stein of your favourite lager in hand. Power Metal indeed and highly recommended. ****
Review by Paul Monkhouse
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