I recently reviewed Blazon Stone’s “Return to Port Royal”, and I have to admit that with the release of Rocka Rollas’ previous EP, “Conquer”, I didn’t see the point of Blazon Stone. No disrespect intended, but both bands were straight up Running Wild worship. With their second album, “Metal Strikes Back”, however, Rocka Rollas takes a step forward with their sound and have become a much more original band. If anything, this record actually sounds more like their debut album than “Conquer”.
The first thing you’ll notice about this album is that it was born and bred in the 80’s. With only 8 tracks, you are getting pure quality and no filler. There are few modern albums that really do this great of a job of making each track unique and memorable. The sound is generally what you might expect from speed metal: it is exceptionally fast, with plenty of long, impressive guitar solos (many of which feature harmonized sections). Vocalist Joe Liszt improves on his performance from the EP and really brings the intensity. Despite being American, his voice actually sounds like it originates from Sweden. On the chorus of “Night of the Living Steel” he delivers one of the most enjoyable performances in recent memory, and generally is a perfect compliment to the rest of the music. The other area where this record shines is on the guitar work. Whether it is the insanely heavy riff found in “Blazing Wings”, or the shredding that occurs on every track on “Metal Strikes Back”, you’ll find that the guitars are the biggest draw to the music. Some of the melodies do have hints of Running Wild in them (there are a couple on “Raging Cyborg”, as well as in the intro of “Swords Raised In Victory”), but ultimately, that appears to be just one of many influences on this record. The rhythm section on “Metal Strikes Back” is certainly not flashy, but both the bass and the drums add to the energy of the record. The drums in particular are always pounding away relentlessly, but avoid sounding modernized; that is, they don’t abuse double bass. Ultimately, this is a dynamic record that has a lot more to it than you might initially expect.
“Metal Strikes Back” is a clear sign of a band taking a huge step forward with their sound. I like their prior album and EP, and will continue to return to them, but this record is such a monumental album that I can’t give it enough praise. I expect this to be a record that people will look back on in the same way we love “Unstoppable Force”, “Death or Glory”, or “Thundersteel”.
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"Night of the Living Steel"
"Heavy Metal Strikes Back"
"Warmachine From Hell"
4.6/5 or 92%.
Written by Scott