|Ross The Boss - 'Hailstorm' (AFM Records)|
|Written by John Oakley|
|Sunday, 31 October 2010 05:00|
I suppose this is what you might call an "interesting opportunity" for a first review, as I have in the past for my sins been what you might call a hardcore Manowar fan. But I finally lost the plot with them, after driving 15 hours across Europe to Germany for what was in my opinion the most piss poor organised festival I've ever been to in my gig going career: the Magic Circle Festival. I also had the opportunity to meet Ross The Boss back stage at the Bang Your Head Festival 2 years ago, at the time I could sense the man was not a happy chappy when discussing the subject of Mr DeMaio, that's for sure. Having encountered DeMaio's organisational skills first hand at the aforementioned Magic Circle my mind cannot even start to imagine what tales Ross might have to tell if given the chance. So the opportunity to review the new album from Ross The Boss was one I obviously couldn't refuse, and here I find myself with the follow up to the band's highly rated debut album 'Heavy Metal Leader'.
So what's 'Hailstorm' really like? Well its solo album number two from the Rossmeister, but are we in for more of the same heads down no nonsense metal we associate him with? Is your fist going to be pounding the air when he hopefully deigns to do a UK tour after that triumphant set at Bloodstock this year? Well you surely will be, as he knows how to please and he does it with ease on the eleven tracks that make up 'Hailstorm'. He's certainly got a band of young bucks around him willing to enhance and share in the old masters glory. The vocals of Patrick Fuchs are especially wide in range, powerful and anthemic, (better even than certain other legendary Heavy Metal vocalists more recent efforts)
'Kingdom Arise' leads the charge, causing us to ride the stallion of true metal galloping into battle. Highly reminiscent of the Manowar days, all ex and future members of the Army Of The Immortals will be banging their heads to that one for sure. The chugga chugga of "Hailstorm" the album's eponymous title track opens up a real blast, and turns into a crowd pleasing singalong, with ludicrously high pitched screams that you would associate with what happens when real men play on ten..!
'Dead Mans Curve' meanwhile grabs you by the balls with its catchy chorus and has melodies and harmonies that are both charming and catchy. Fans of the Conan trilogy will be doffing their caps in prayer and screaming along to the riffage assault that is 'Crom'. ("Crom's Teeth" muttered Conan! Its good!). Instrumental 'Great Gods Glorious' has Ross showing off his guitar skills and widdling melodies that rather oddly occasionally border on the twee rather than the glorious.
In stark contract 'Among the Ruins' has a fantastically introspective piano lead vocal track that Eric Adams would be proud of. Whilst 'Shining Path' is another call to arms for all metal warriors, standing together in numbers once again. However, by the same token we also have rather plodding efforts of 'Empire's Anthem, which frankly leaves me cold, and to these ears really seems like an afterthought.
Looking at the cover, which depicts a huge bird in a thunderstorm, I think what we get here is exactly what you would expect. It's what I call "Ronseal Metal" as it does exactly what it says on the tin, and if Ross were to play the Camden Underworld, and associated venues of Albion with this set I'd definitely have an awesome night, as would half the metal community of <inset your town name here>. I do however find myself wondering just how different is this music today? How does 'Hailstorm' stack up against the newer boys of Power Metal like Sabaton or Hammerfall? And to quote Ross's own PR is he really the "New Metal Leader"? Well I'm not so sure... I don't sense the vital edge, but hey, I've always liked a bit of Manowar style hype. And as long as it keeps him in gigs, and also keeps his music being played in the drinking halls of Valhalla, then with product to market and with his axe in hand, amongst the true Gods of Metal Ross The Boss still stands tall...
For that reason: Buy 'Hailstorm', you'll love it