Impellitteri – The Nature of the Beast
2018, Frontiers Records
Impellitteri is not a band I usually check for. Always thought the band was generic shred metal for the most part. However, I noticed The Nature of the Beast was making the round on multiple ‘best of 2018’ lists, so I decided to put it on as background noise to hear what the big deal is.
Well, it’s better than I expected and by listening to it I’ve discovered one of my favorite songs of the year– “Phantom of the Opera”. It’s a fantastic shred metal version of the Andrew Lloyd Weber song that comes from the musical of the same name. I’ve always loved that song and this version here is mind-blowing. Rob Rock’s vocals and Chris Impellitteri’s shredding on this track are mind-blowing. I can’t stop playing this song. I immediately played this version again (and again and again…) after hearing it for the first time.
Sadly, there is nothing else on this album that matches the intensity of “Phantom of the Opera”, but there are still a handful of good tracks. “Kill the Beast” has a bit of an Iron Maiden vibe while “Run For Your Life” (sadly not a cover of Riot song)
Highlights: “Kill the Beast”, “Run For Your Life”, “The Phantom of the Opera”
Stephen Pearcy – View to a Thrill
2018, Frontiers Records
Despite (or maybe because of) the drama that constantly surrounds Ratt, Stephen Pearcy has been fairly active as a solo act since the late ’90s. He can usually be found on the road with his own solo band. Every now and then, he’ll release an album. I’m usually a bit cautious of new Pearcy music because I still remember the low-grade industrial/alternative metal albums he released in the early & mid-2000s as well as the steady reissues/re-recordings of Mickey Ratt/Ratt demos & tunes.
View to a Thrill comes just two years after the enjoyable Smash, and stylistically it follows in the same vein of melodic sleazy hard rock you’d expect from the lead singer of Ratt. It probably helps that both View to a Thrill and Smash were released by Frontiers Records. Probably a record deal that included an agreed upon sound & style from Pearcy.
“Violator” and “From the Inside” do have a more modern hard rock/metal sound to them, but they aren’t bad and don’t really entirely out of place. The rest of the album is full of Ratt/Arcade-worthy tracks such as “U Only Live Twice”, “Not Killin’ Me” (my favorite track), “Dangerous Thing”, and “I’m a Ratt” (duh).
While it would great to hear some new Ratt tunes (and PLEASE ge DeMartini back!), View to a Thrill is a good holdover for Ratt fans. I feel like Smash kind of went under the radar, so I have no doubts that this album will as well, but it’s definitely worth a listen.
Highlights: “U Only Live Twice”, “Not Killin’ Me”
Sacred Leather – Ultimate Force
2018, Cruz del Sur Music
Never heard of these guys before but I’m glad I decided to give this album a chance. Indianapolis, Indiana-based Sacred Leather is pure ’80s power metal complete with high pitch soaring vocals. The band has been around for a handful of years with Ultimate Force being their first full studio release. Most of the band members all have experience in previous metal bands that primarily played doom, black, sludge, death or thrash variations. It appears this is the first time any of them have attempted to go the traditional ’80s power metal route. Boy, have they knocked it out of the park!
My only complaint would be the mix. Vocalist Dee Wrathchild (AKA – Dustin Boltjes, ex-Skeletonwitch drummer) does a great group but his vocals sound a bit muddy and pushed too far back.
A lot of modern bands that try to go the traditional heavy metal route usually come across as soulless and generic but that’s not the case on Ultimate Force. Despite having a laugh with their stage names (Magnus LeGrand, Jailhouse, JJ Highway, Caroloff Blitz, Dee Wrathchild), these guys have legit songwriting skills. Great riffs and melodies and the nine minute closing track “The Lost Destructor / Priest of the Undoer” is an epic that features a late ’80s Metallica-quality solo in its last quarter.
Highlights: “Ultimate Force”, “Dream Searcher”, “The Lost Destructor / Priest of the Undoer”