Metal Thrashing Mad – Red Dragon Cartel vs. Silent Force vs. Crystal Viper
RED DRAGON CARTEL
Red Dragon Cartel
Frontiers Records 2014
It’s Christmas! So what better time to drown out the false bonhomie with some metal thrashing madness. And in an unexpected move, the first one out of the box is the new project from guitarist Jake E. Lee (ex Ozzy Osbourne, Badlands). The label are claiming that he’s returning from “a self-imposed exile from the music industry and the public eye”, which draws a veil over his solo albums and his dalliance with Enuff Z’Nuff. Which is probably a good idea.
To be honest, it’s probably only those of a certain age who remember Jake E Lee, so I was horrified to realise that he’s in his mid fifties now. I just remember him as a fresh faced wee boy, but time marches on, and here he is with his new band – Ronnie Mancuso – Bass, D.J Smith – Vocals and Jonas Fairley – Drums. He’s also brought in some special guests to vocalise with Robin Zander from Cheap Trick, Paul Di’Anno from Iron Maiden, Maria Brink from In This Moment, and the legendary (in my house) Sass Jordan.
And it’s a good album, although as those of who actually bought the first Badlands album when it came out will remember, hamstrung by the lack of classic songs. They’re good, but just not great. Having said that it is nice to hear Lee riffing away in fine eighties stylee on tunes like ‘Deceived’, ‘Shout It Out’ and ‘War Machine’. Quite who is going to buy this escapes me, but if you do remember the eighties you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.
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Rising From Ashes
Nearly seven years on from their last album, and Silent Force are back. Ish. I say ish because only guitar player Alex Beyrodt and drummer André Hilgers remain from their earlier lineups. To be honest, I’m surprised Beyrodt has resurrected the name what with his subsequent work with Voodoo Circle, as well as being a member of both Primal Fear and Sinner.
But he’s put an all star Silent Force together with the legendary Michael Bormann on vocals, Mat Sinner on bass and Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards. And it’s a very enjoyable slab of melodic / power metal. The kind of thing that our European cousins lap up, but which remains the province of a vocal minority here.
They’re not reinventing the wheel, and why should they? Instead it’s the standard mix of Yngwie style riffs, big power chords, a touch of late eighties Queensryche and some excellent tunes like ‘Caught In Their Wicked Game’, ‘Kiss Of Death’ and ‘Anytime Anywhere’. A good one.
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Really? Turns out Crystal Viper have been on the go since 2003, and have put out four albums prior to this one. They’ve all passed me by, but here comes the new one from the female fronted trad metal act from Poland, and, ooh, it’s a concept album!
Huzzah! They’ve also brought some friends to the party with ‘Fight Evil With Evil’ featuring the voice of Harry Conklin (Jag Panzer, Titan Force, Satan’s Host), while on ‘Julia Is Possessed’ you get Sataniac, vocalist from German thrashers Desaster. They’ve even bunged in a cover version of the Riot chestnut, ‘Thundersteel’.
And some of it is very good. The aforementioned ‘Julia Is Possessed’ is a crushing beast, and when they thrash it up, as they do on ‘Mark Of The Horned One’, then it’s very good indeed. However, there is a fair amount of pedestrian riffage dotted hither and thither, which makes you impatient, and has your finger hovering over the skip button. But, generally, it’s a enjoyable metal romp, without ever approaching classic status.