by Martin Popoff

Click Here for Martin's HardRadio HardReviews Archives

Fresh Metal

Blood Of The Nations
(Nuclear Blast)

As molten guitar forger Wolf Hoffman writes, Blood Of The Nations happened due to a new Accept singer walking right into their lives from down the road, from producer Andy Sneap walking out of his chemistry exam as a kid, and from manager and so much more Gaby "Deaffy" Hoffman walking to the ends of the earth building up and defending this legendary band. Beers and basements later, we have Blood Of The Nations, built by Peter Baltes, Herman Frank, Stefan Schwarzman, Wolf Hoffman and new singer Mark Tornillo, who brings to the band a rich combination of an Udo-like scrape and that intriguing element of southern rock soul one hears from trench warfare American metal bands associated with the origins of power metal - only Metal Church's Ronny Munroe springs to mind in this regard, and that is huge company indeed. Together the guys stir up a storm of Germanic metal worthy of the legacy, tracks like 'The Abyss', 'Rolling Thunder', 'Pandemic', 'Bucket Full Of Hate' and personal highlight 'Time Machine' capturing that post-Scorpions Teutonic mania that Accept owned most pointedly on the mid-paced material from Restless And Wild and all of Balls To The Wall. The groove laid down by Baltes and Schwarzmann is undeniable, the chemistry then solidified by the band's patented twin rhythm guitar engine (as well as memorable backing gang vocals), and then, well, Tornillo just takes the bull by the horns and hangs on... until you all of a sudden come 'round to the fact that he's made the subtle shift to role of frontman, driver of sorts, of this train barreling down the tracks. And if you haven't appreciated the subtleties, made the conversion as it were, the guys throw extra trademarks, such as Russian melodies, the Euro-metal 'Princess Of The Dawn' strains of 'New World Comin'' and the idea of opening the album with a fast double bass drummer in 'Beat The Bastards'. Enough already? Well, the icing on the cake is the expert graphics, from the photography to the lyrics, the essay from Wolf, and the tidy digipak configuration. If there's a negative, it's a reservation at the record's safeness and uniformity, but man, with a sound of subtle distinction such as Accept's, deliberate choices that feed that legacy can hardly be frowned upon.
Rating 8.5

Bitten By The Beast
(Niji Entertainment Group)

Rock's Ronnie's cousin and ex-Elf compat, and therein lies the tie to Ronnie's management company, Niji, Ronnie's manager and wife, Wendy Dio, and ultimately, Ronnie's legendary voice gracing a track called 'Metal Will Never Die' on this rock-solid old school trip through steel. Love the digipak packaging, the uniform sound, style and deliberation, and Rock's voice is a throwback to the original definition of power metal, a throat like Algy Ward crossed with Lips, a touch imprecise, and maybe that's why it's kind of treated and distant. You can't rate something like this too highly, 'cos really, it's halfway to Manowar and a quarter-turn past Anvil on the "We are metal" scale, with squared-off straight-eight riffs to match. Plus I'm finding the production a little too midrangey, clean and ProTools-y sounding, even if I'm sort of glad it's gone this way and not on the cheap, which could have happened (hello Joey Belladonna). Fave rave would be the spirited remake of Elf's 'Gambler Gambler,' a Feinstein co-write with Ronnie way up at the end, this one grooving huge with a potent mix of metal and boogie rock, perhaps throwing into bad light the way the rest of the album is emotionally wintery down an old Metal Blade and Shrapnel pathway to the loading dock for 12 hours of throwing boxes around.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 2