AFM Records [Release date 06.03.20]
Just when you thought that there was no band more ‘metal’ than Manowar or Judas Priest, along comes Ross ‘the Boss’ Friedman and his crew to combine elements of both and more to provide an album that shakes the very foundations of the Earth. Since his sudden and unplanned departure from those loin cloth clad electric warriors in 1989, the former Dictators/Manowar guitarist has been incredibly busy, his fretwork gracing numerous projects including one with former Blue Oyster Cult drummer Albert Bouchard. ‘Born of Fire’ doesn’t have the hard rock stylings of the New York ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ giants but ploughs a much weightier course, calling upon both the gods of ancient mythology alongside those whose amps most definitely turn up to way beyond 10.
From the first bars, opener ‘Glory to the Slain’ tears along at breakneck speed, foot to the floor as it relentlessly hits 100mph before even catching breath. You’re reminded of the rough edged rock n roll so loved by Motorhead along with the more Sword and Sorcery elements of the lyrics and you can imagine that it would be the outcome of Lemmy watching ‘Game of Thrones’ rather than his usual fare of World War II films. ‘I Am the Sword’ is just as fast and contains some screams that Rob Halford would have been proud of and ‘Fight the Fight’ is a rallying, cocksure call to victory that features some slicing harmony guitar work that rivals Iron Maiden at their most dashing. The album itself is a real melting pot and twists and turns with some real flashes of brilliance that build on a respect for other styles within the metal and rock genre but give them a modern sheen.
The titular ‘Born of Fire’ goes from thrash metal into a much more melodic second half and elsewhere there are some nods to Anvil, Metallica and Anthrax along with some more twin guitar passages that sound like Thin Lizzy’s dirtier and rougher Transatlantic cousin as on ‘Maiden of Shadows’. There is drama, dark edges, heavy themes and lightning strikes of almost symphonic rock thrown in for good measure as Friedman, bass player Mike Lepond, skinsman Steve Bolognese and vocalist Marc Lopes charge across the musical landscape, destroying anything that stands in their way, the band most certainly not interested in taking prisoners. There could be no clearer encapsulation of this than the lead single ‘Denied by the Cross’ a track that couldn’t be more metal if it wanted to and stands as a testament to the power and glory of the band and the genre.
Stripped of the pomp of his former band, Ross the Boss hits hard, fast and true, relying on a punk heart to fire up the engines in something that is at once well-crafted but with enough raw edges to delight anyone seeking ‘real’ music. ‘The Blackest Heart’ closes the album with some doomy and haunting heaviness that is as oppressive as the darkest of nights, a killer blow to finish off anyone who has survived the thrilling but perilous ride. Bloodied, bruised but not bowed, this is one fight you’ll be glad you were in, tattered flag held high and proclaiming that heavy metal still has the power to flatten cities and make its followers take flight. Ross the Boss; the man, the band, the legend and the music. ****
Review by Paul Monkhouse
In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)
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Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)
Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)
LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)
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