Yngwie Viking - Metal Temple
Maybe someone in the audience will remember one of the many NWOBHM's act, called AXIS (A 7” on Neat Records "Lady / Messiah" in 1980)? Well, unfortunately this band isn’t alive anymore but a new Anthology / Compilation of ancient recording tapes, under the title of “The Flame Burns On” is expected to be released quite soon through HIGH ROLLER Records. In 2006, the self-financed album "Truth, Lies and Damnation”, was the first attempt for AXIS / PAULINE GILLAN BAND's ex-guitar player Davy Little to try again. LIES OF SMILES was the name of the band, and it paved the way for the big triumphal breakthrough and the artistic success. Anyway this resurrection could only truly occur in full, exclusively with a twist of fate and a revamped line-up in 2010, it’s while the "Cross & Claw" album saw the light of day.
In fact, I must admit that I almost missed Cross & Claw and, upon some buddy's recommendations, I truly had an hard times searching for it and I had to wait for Germany’s MusicBuyMail, and their import artist program in late 2012 to get that jewel.
Under the guidance of ex-TYGERS OF PAN TANG's Fred Purser at the producer's helm and guru Mick Tucker (formerly AXIS and WHITE SPIRIT guitar player later on and currently in TANK) as supporter, Metal coordinator and most of all spiritual mentor. The hugely skilled vocalist Tony Thurlow (JUMP THE GUN) then teamed up with the experienced Dave ‘Davy’ Little Veteran, and guitar player Pat O'Neill and (both coming all the way from the PAULINE GILLAN BAND) Keeth Naylor & Chris Wing to deliver a very classy (classic?) slab of pure British Heavy Metal for die-hard Metalheads of all ages.
The thundering and epic Symphonic orchestra keyboards short overture "Something Wicked This Way Comes" sets a dark ambiance, like calm before the storm. "Fallen" is indeed storming and thunderous both sonically and vocally, with earth-shattering vocals & perfect aggressive utterance provided in the old and great Ronnie James Dio's fashion, backed with furious rhythm and talented orchestrations surrounded by strengthened arrangements.
Very early in "Torre De Angeles” you’ll know that this is a sublime song, another cracker, including fine & precise riffage while the vocals remind THUNDER’s Danny Bowes but also Steve Grimmett (ex-GRIM REAPER / ONSLAUGHT / GRIMMSTINE) in his LIONSHEART glorious days, the massive guitar is straight-right-to-your-face and even more than usually very sharp. "Death From Above" & “Stone Cold” refer to the real Euro Metal tradition, with some terrific riffing and strangely some Germanic overtones like ACCEPT & co or more precisely “Rock The Nation” by RESTLESS in 1985.
Strictly Metal in its structure, with some tremendous sonic influences from the 70s “Warhounds & The World's Pain" is a Dead serious song, with amazing vocals that sound like a good combination of Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin and Ronnie James Dio, that’s why Late 80s or mid 90s BLACK SABBATH are the main comparisons that came to mind, uplifting, exultant and strongly recommended track.
Musically very coherent but also inventive, yet very respectful of its genre, this album exudes sincerity throughout and dedication from beginning to end, like Pilgrims on their way to an endless quest for the perfect, purest British Steel amalgam, Davy, Tony and the LIES OF SMILES cohorts are giving their best to impose their Metal integrity and true genuineness .
History is history but living today is the most important thing. This album belongs to the greatest sort, this is pure old school Metal with no gimmick, no bullshit, just great heavy music with all the features that we all loved, in the past but also in the present, as it’s not and definitely not a nostalgic affair, that’s why ASTRAL DOORS / JORN LANDE’s MASTERPLAN are the references that I want to keep in mind. If only one word could stay while reminding this album I would say: Honesty.