2007 So Far
by Alun Thomas
The year isn't half over yet as I write this, but peg 2007 in as the year of the comeback. While most of the bands in the midst of this comeback never went away, the quality of their recent releases is enough to warrant this as a return of sorts simply due to the quality of the music. It's heavy metal making a comeback, true metal, made by bands some would consider ancient, the likes of Manowar, Megadeth, U.D.O, Saxon, WASP, Rose Tattoo for example. But then age of course is a number. It doesn't necessarily prevent the deterioration of musical ability. What these bands have manufactured is prevent themselves from further aging and staleness. Just by playing old fashioned metal. And when they do it they also prevent, the listener from heading in that same direction. It breathes new life, no matter what year it is.
Dave Mustaine, perennial leader of Megadeth is a man who I have enjoyed ridiculing often since the downward spiral his band took on after 1990's 'Rust In Peace'. The abandonment of thrash ethics, the continual commercial onslaught and lessening of his reputation as an untamed loudmouth and Wildman all contributed. Mind you at 46 this could be expected. Megadeth's newest album 'United Abominations' has forced me to take some of my criticisms back. Mustaine has forged improbably a return to the ferocity and ugliness that epitomized his 1986-90 prime. It's like he woke up and realized there's no good reason he still can't pen an angry tune with crazed riffs and speed. 'Burnt Ice', Amerikastan' and 'You're Dead' rank with Mustaine's best writing. Once again he appears controversial and barely sane. About time son.
Mustaine's thrash revival genuinely took me by surprise. I thought he had long given up the ghost. Much like Manowar. Their 2002 'Warriors Of The World' was an abortion of a CD and it's taken five years but finally Manowar have too proved me wrong. 'Gods Of War' is a concept album regarding Odin, and from Manowar that is simply the norm. Only this time their music sounds vital, the metal content turned up more than usual. Anthems abound at every turn, but most importantly, it's heavy. That's what metal is and always should be. Heavy. And when Manowar execute it properly there's no finer exponent. It only took them fourteen years to return to form, but then again there has only been two albums since then. If I'm 31 now then who knows how old they are. Surely all four in their mid fifties.
That would be Biff Byford of Saxon though. Only he must be 60 considering he was around in 1970 on the music scene. It is inconsequential as Biff's still going strong as are Saxon, their recent 'Inner Sanctum' their best in many a moon, particularly the track 'Let Me Feel Your Power' which was energetic enough to make me consider jumping through a pane glass window nude and running down the street bloodied. But even this was usurped by what U.D.O. have to offer. Udo of course are led by ex Accept vocalist Udo, who has been perhaps the most consistent artist in metal over the last decade, putting out a new album every year almost. His latest 'Mastercutor' usurps the lot, offering savage Judas Priest type metal onslaughts like 'Master Of Disaster' and tearjerker ballads such as 'Tears Of A Clown', portraying a desolate clown with the circus. His coup de grace however is the bizarre 'Walker In The Dark'.
Bizarre yes, funny definitely. If Saxon had me wanting to jump through a window then U.D.O. compel me to stalk the streets stealing and sniffing underwear off clotheslines. That's right. Udo in this track documents a shady pervert raiding peoples property of womenÕs underwear and even sung by Udo himself, 'sniffing the underwear'. Indescribable class here and furthers Udo's fetish for night time perversion as begun on 1984's 'Head Over Heels' in which he fondles himself watching couples having sex in the dark. If this isn't a return to the days of yore for Udo himself, nothing is.
Likewise WASP and hoary old Aussie rockers Rose Tattoo have similarly impressed and thereÕs a whole bunch of others out there who have made the grade significantly also. Mind you it always seems like I am sent the most desperate and absurd CD's known to man. Sonic X? Nasum? At least when I enter the Army for boot camp in June I'll avoid more rubbish like that. But I'll be devoid of the metal that matters, the ones you just read about. That would make the experience more tolerable. But knowing they're out there waiting when I am done after two grueling months makes it worthwhile. As long as they keep the metal going until they and I both die then we'll all keep ourselves from numbness and predictability.
And by saying that metal saved me again. Here's to the new challenge. 'Am I a faggot? Sir, yes sir!!'!!!!!!!'