Of all the bands from Toronto’s great traditional heavy metal scene, the two giants, Skull Fist and Cauldron remain my favourites. While the latter has pumped out three albums in rapid succession, we’ve had to wait three long years for the follow-up to Skull Fist’s debut. Was it worth it? Mostly yes. “Chasing The Dream” is filled with Skull Fist’s classic speed metal sounds, and it’s hard to see fans of the first album being disappointed with this record. Despite that, however, there is one reason that some fans may not be satisfied: Jackie Slaughter’s vocals. He’s still a wild singer, but unfortunately most of his vocals throughout the album (particularly on the first two tracks) sound very processed. It really turns the vocal performance into something more appropriate for a pop record than a metal one. Nonetheless, after several listens, you get used to his new sound and it becomes only a minor annoyance.
Beyond the vocals, what “Chasing The Dream” delivers is a variety of heavy metal clichés in impeccable form. The speed metal burners that dominated the first album are back in the shape of “Hour To Live”, “Sign of the Warrior”, and “Mean Street Rider”. The first of these three tracks opens the record in the same way the debut began: Slaughter’s lone guitar shredding your face off! As he enters with a classic riff, he speeds up several times, before unleashing a dangerous lead (that has a striking similarity to the lead in “Head of the Pack”). One surprise on this album is the second song, “Bad For Good”. While Skull Fist are no strangers to creating stomping mid-paced classics, this track takes more of an AOR/glam approach. The chorus is irresistibly catchy, and the tempo really gives the song a great driving feel. Another area where Skull Fist do something different is on the intro and outro to “Mean Street Rider”. The band uses a pretty evil sounding riff that is pretty out of place, but the majority of the song is a high-speed affair. The final track I have to mention is “You’re Gonna Pay”. While nothing out of the ordinary, this is one more track where Skull Fist really displays great songwriting through an unforgettable chorus. The first album was more song-driven, as there were a select number of stand out tracks, but this record is much more well-rounded in terms of quality.
As one would expect, “Chasing The Dream” is also a complete shred-fest. Whether Slaughter and Jonny Nesta are dueling it out against each other, or working in harmony (such as on the opener), they really never stop showing off. It seems like half of the tracks on this record are driven by a riff that ends with a mini-solo. Nevertheless, this is exactly what heavy metal should be about, and is yet another reason why Skull Fist is a really killer band. If you are looking for in your face, aggressive, guitar-driven metal, “Chasing The Dream” is going to blow you away.
Be sure to check out and like Skull Fist on Facebook!
"Hour To Live"
"Bad For Good"
"You're Gonna Pay"
"Mean Street Rider"
4.6/5 or 92%.
Written by Scott