by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

The Haunted - rEVOLVEr
(Century Media)

You gotta trust that The Haunted were going to press like acupuncture the metal cure points. Peter Dolving is back in the band (he throated the seminal debut), and that was going to improve the lyrics (this guy has lived, and nearly died, lives numbering those of a black alley cat), although his vocals are like any number of thrashers. Let's face it: there are no shortage of thrash vocalists we complain about, yet how many are singled out for notable praise above and beyond that vocalist's given thrash package, even if the band is superlatively and unanimously deemed upper echelon? Alas, Peter's just another. But as lyric writer and musical contributor, Dolving injects sophistication and passion to the presentation, as if the Bjorlers and Jensen needed any prodding to throw the horns. Self-produced, rEVOLVEr is as hard as a vodka-splashed triple-paned glass, reflecting the voluminous, luminous yet very specific metal know-how gained from backbands like At The Gates, Witchery, Seance and Mary Beats Jane. What flies out the other end like a cutting chain is an old school thrash record by the gifted class of qualified mid-graders, again, given the hard to pinpoint, scattered life cycle of thrash, probably the best batch of enthusiastic metal brains to deliver such a strangely conservative, immediately satisfying collection of uncut gems.
Rating 8.5

Saxon - Lionheart

Yeah, yeah, yeah... just like Lemmy says about his Motorheaders, Saxon are actually way better o'er the last few albums than they ever were in the gulden era, and both Biff and Lemmy would be correct on that count, although it's never going to feel quite the same. Onto this here grinding yet high-flying collection of metal anthems, pretty damn good I say, from the tall rock pocket of sticksman Jorg Michael, through the Metal Church-quality riffs of Quinn and Scarratt, to the rich, commanding single and double tracked vocals of Byford to the Accept-like heads-down bass lines of Nibbs Carter. I mean, these riffs are mountainous, the grooves insanely pounding (see Justice...geez), and all is well in Saxontown. Forsooth, this is a band that doesn't screw up, unless (unless), you count having to come up with lyrics on "something" for the millionth time. So Biff cops the Witchfinder General from Witchfinder General and Cathedral, 747 (Strangers In The Night) becomes Flying On The Edge, a silly tale about "ooh, gotta get a flight to the gig/can't miss the gig/should we fly in a storm?" and... er, "We ain't done Lionheart yet, 'ave we boys?" (nae). "Owz about Atlantis, then?" (nae). But cripes if the band ain't hellzapoppin' on fire throughout, razor-jagged guitars sawin' away over the most dependable of rhythm beds, topped with the only voice that sounds like Biff. So hell, I jes' keep playing it, 'cos it goes down so true metal, with nothing to do with power metal. Hard to do unless you're old coots who come from that pure time.
Rating 8.5

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