Thursday, August 18, 2011

Under the Spell and Loving It

Heavy Artillery's Spellcaster is a band that pulls no punches and plays their music like it's 1986 all over again, showing complete disregard for the modern metal sound by dishing out ripping riffs reminiscent of Metallica on "Kill Em All." If you're looking for innovation in your metal, then you need to steer clear of this album. You won't find it. These guys show no intentions of changing the classic '80s metal sound; they know how to play it so well. The matter of being generic or unoriginal isn't the problem. So if you're looking for some '80s heavy metal worship done right, you need to stick around. "Under the Spell" will definitely fulfill your needs and then some.

Everything here is a blast from the past. The vocals resemble Paul Dianno on "Killers," but also have the range of Rob Halford on "Painkiller." The melodies and harmonies also sound familiar to those that KK Downing and Glenn Tipton magically produced on every album. The riffs tend to take their sound from the '80s bay area thrash bands like Exodus and Testament.

Spellcaster's true strength though, lies within their ability to absorb all of their influences and execute a great mix of them. Tracks such as "Power Rising" feature the thrashy riffs, the beautiful harmonies and melodies and the soaring vocals, making for a fantastic song. Spellcaster also shows off their ability to write a terrific instrumental track with the song "Spellbound," which features clean and acoustic guitar playing, that transition perfectly into the melodies that recall Judas Priest on "The Hellion."

Despite those positives, "Under the Spell" isn't a perfect album and has its flaws. The biggest flaw is found on some of the riffs. Some of the riffs sound recycled or just lack inspiration whatsoever. The main riff of "Molten Steel" sounds extremely similar to Metallica's "Trapped Under Ice" as well as Helloween's "Ride the Sky." "Nite of the Hell Beast" is another bland and definitely skip-able track due to its simple and mediocre riffs that just about any garage band could have written. Had these tracks been better or not on the album at all, this record could have went from great to brilliant.

Spellcaster have shown some true potential on this album and if they continue to progress at this rate, they have a bright future ahead of them. The best racks to be found on this album are "Power Rising" and "Sands of Fear." Both of these tracks showcase Spellcaster's best offerings. Melodies, riffs and catchy vocals. 

Spellcaster is on the verge of something great, so the best advice would be to keep your eyes on them. They might just cast a spell on you, permanently. 

Final Rating - 4.1/5 or 82%.

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