Sunday, March 16, 2014

Death Dealer – War Master

Death Dealer is the current project of legendary axeman Ross The Boss (ex-Manowar), but it also features some other big-time names in the heavy/power/speed metal world. In particular, Sean Peck, from the band Cage, is on vocals. For those unfamiliar with that band (as I was before hearing Death Dealer), Peck is a guy with incredible talent and range, but he tends to focus on delivering that over-the-top style of metal pioneered by Rob Halford on Painkiller. In fact, the band as a whole spends much of “War Master” doing just that. While there are slower songs, such as the ballad, “Children of Flames”, there are many more balls-to-the-wall speed metal classics. The band’s title track, “Death Dealer”, is the most potent example, as it delivers screamed vocals, rapid-fire double bass drumming, and plenty of shred. Despite the great guitar players on this record, it is actually not as guitar-driven as I expected. “Wraiths on the Wind”, for example, has a great riff in the chorus, as well as some wicked guitar solos, but it is Peck’s vocals (particularly in the pre-chorus) that make this song so convincing. Even though his singing is always in overdrive, there’s a lot of character in his voice, and that makes choruses like “Liberty or Death”, and of course, “Death Dealer, especially potent.

The strength of “War Master” is definitely its songwriting. Most of these songs will grow on your after just a couple of listens. The aforementioned “Children of Flames” will bring back the glory of Agent Steel’s “Chosen To Stay”, with its brilliant, somber atmosphere that is highlighted by Peck’s screams in the chorus. This is all topped off with one of the best solos of the record, where Ross The Boss shows that speed isn’t necessarily a pre-requisite for a great guitar solo. Another highlight, the album's title track, is similar to “Death Dealer” in that Cage’s wild vocals drive a powerful chorus. Ultimately, however, there are still a couple of weaker tracks that drag things down by the end of the record. Even though this album is a similar length to “Painkiller”, Death Dealer would really benefit from cutting out a couple tracks simply because it’s difficult to keep up this level of intensity for such a long period of time. Nevertheless, this is definitely a great driving album, and is fun to throw on anytime you want something completely ridiculous to listen to. 

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"Death Dealer"
"Children of Flames"

Final Rating
4.0/5 or 80%. 

Written by Scott