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Skull Fist - Way of the Road

Label: NoiseArt Records
Format: Download
Released: 2018
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 9/10


First things first: let’s celebrate an album that doesn’t bury the bass in the mix - - a rarity in Modern Metal recordings. Second, let’s celebrate a damned fine Traditional Metal album for 2018, with Clive Burr (of early Iron Maiden) -slash- Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) throwback drums, and great, melodic guitars, vocals - - and did we mention the bass?

 

This Skull Fist strikes hard, with steel rings of Thrash, Traditional/NWOBHM, Hair, Classic, Speed, and Rock hitting all at once. Tesla, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Keel, Motley Crue, Accept, Scorpions, Diamond Head, Van Halen, Killer Dwarfs, Dio, early Stryper, Dokken, Triumph, Zebra, very early Megadeth, very early Metallica, Helloween - - Skull Fist wear the greats of the past draped over their shoulders like a patched denim vest. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but they execute their music with earnest skill and care; in spite of the shoddily spray-painted van on their album cover, Skull Fist aren’t a punky joke. They’re having a good time, but not as the expense of the musical integrity, as was the case with the worst of the Hair era poseurs.
The band works as a cohesive unit, each taking their turns in the spotlight, but that beam keeps swiveling back to shine on the drumkit. J.J. Tartaglia hits the skins with ebullience to spare, injecting energy and life into each of the songs.
The lead song and single is entitled, “You Belong to Me,” but it has nothing to do with the 1950s ballad. The track sends a message with an opening drum attack, followed by a blistering guitar flourish, before launching into the speaker-melting riff. You think Zach Slaughter’s MAF clean vocals are the final nail, until the devastating Murray/Smith/Gers-reminiscent harmonized guitar solo. This isn’t all just spent on the first track either, folks. Skull Fist maintain this throughout the entire album, brooking no filler.
There are so many great moments, but I have to call out the solo in “I Am a Slave” as my favorite on the record. It’s just a noisy, furious rush. Final track “Heart of Rio” ends things on a peppy, upbeat, arena Rock n’ Roll note, that will have you on your feet, with horned fingers in the air. Actually - - you’ll be out of your seat with your fist in the air long before the final track.
This is an impressive collection of hard Metal nostalgia, that manages to stay current and relevant. Anyone who yearns for the greatness of Metal’s past will get a thrill from “Way of the Road.” Heavy music has a thriving future.

 
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