Screamer are one of my favourite traditional heavy metal bands from Sweden simply because they sound so authentic. Earlier in the year, I reviewed their debut album, “Adrenaline Distractions”, after seeing the band live. The band has returned in early 2013 with their new record, “Phoenix”. Screamer’s second album definitely has a very similar sound to the first album, but it drops a bit of the rock sound the band used to have. Instead, this is an album that is definitively metal throughout. That is no more evident than on the high-speed tracks like “Demon Rider” and “Phoenix”. With that said, there are still some awesome rockers, but no riff on this album sounds out of place for a metal record.
Once again, the band uses all of the hallmarks of heavy metal in their sound. Shredding dual lead guitars are plentiful and the vocals of Christoffer Svensson are the perfect compliment. At times, he is more reserved (such as on “No Sleep ‘Til Hamilton”), but he also gives plenty of energetic screams on the faster songs. In many ways, his vocals are like a tamer and more controlled version of the singing in Canadian band Striker. This is a good thing because the band isn't always going full speed as well. The highlights of this album (like any great traditional heavy metal album) are the tracks that are most memorable and have the best hooks. The aforementioned “No Sleep ‘Til Hamilton” features some catchy gang vocals in the chorus alongside Svensson’s great storytelling. This song sounds like it was inspired by their Canadian tour with Alcoholator, but the lyrics are definitely a genuine account of the hardships of touring. Another standout is the closer, “Lady of the River”. The track starts out a little slow, but it builds to an astounding guitar solo. The best comparison would be to Metallica’s “Fade to Black” because it is one of those guitar solos that has a perfect sense of phrasing and conveys a ton of emotion. This is truly a fitting end to a great record. The other tracks are all up to par for the band, but when Screamer gets it right, they really hit it out of the park.
Ultimately, “Phoenix” is the logical continuation of “Adrenaline Distractions”. It’s a bit heavier, but the songwriting isn’t quite as consistent. There are no weak tracks, only songs that are much better than others. All four musicians are still killing it, and once again, the highlight is the vocals of Svensson. If you are a fan of any newer traditional heavy metal and you don’t listen to Screamer, now is the time to start!
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"No Sleep 'Til Hamilton"
"Lady of the River"
4.5/5 or 90%.
Written by Scott