Broken Arrow - Abyss Of Darkness
Thankfully, this is Italian melodic metal that breaks away from the norm, in much the same manner that Labyrinth broke away from their own norm for the best album of their career, their recent self-titled. Abyss Of Darkness begins with curious cover art (submarine, naked mermaids) and then gets down to the dirty business of hard rocking at low, deliberate speeds. Vocalist Dave Baduena doesn't wail away like a tea kettle, rather creating a vibe not unlike Falconer. And it's nice to hear riffs that could have arose from the NWOBHM, the (arguably bad) production sounding that way as well, with its live-like cross-pollination of tones. Keyboards are kept to a minimum (and they never help), leaving the guitars to churn away like non-gay Maiden. Verdict: tons of personality, songs that are little projects unto themselves, cast in the mold of a nice vintage.
Warlord - Book 1
Get yer fill right here, of one of the more mysterious and talented of the early power metal pioneers. But there's nothing new added to the circuitous tale. Book 1 offers a re-release of the live concert, shot quite badly and darkly, acceptable sound, in front of no audience (these never work - it's palpably lonely). But there you go, Damien King II metalizing committedly in bare chest, gold head band and bullet belt while his Queensryche-alikes play some of the better prog metal songs never properly recognized as legendary. And speaking of legendary, the set comes with a bonus CD of the monumental Deliver Us From Evil EP remastered, each detail coming alive, Warlord methodically and confidently demonstrating why they should have been huge, sounding like Fates Warning crossed with Rhoads-era Ozzy. The Metal Massacre III track Mrs. Victoria is also included. This should have been a jewel-cased CD with bonus DVD, rather than the other way around: the video works to erode, or at least mortalize a reputation vaulted by the seminal and immortal EP.