Prisoner is a Serbian speed metal band that is unleashing their debut-full length “See The Scars” in 2015 on the awesome label Slaney Records. Before you even hear the record, you know it’s going to kill. It has all of the attributes of a great 80s speed metal album: killer one word band name, vibrant, colourful artwork, and a concise 8-song offering. The opening song even opens with an incredible Running Wild homage before bursting into something faster and more aggressive. Perhaps the biggest surprise of this song (and the album as a whole) is the singing. Prisoner’s singer sounds remarkably American in his delivery. In other words, he doesn’t have a very noticeable accent. His vocals are clear, melodic, and incredibly well-tuned. They’re a definite highlight of the album.
Of course, the main focus here should be on the guitars. Not only do they provide a plethora of classic, old-school sounding riffs, but they know how to shred too. One of the best examples comes in the opener, “Hung, Drawn, and Quartered”, where there is a “Powerslave”-esque clean break with some incredibly emotional guitar playing, which ultimately erupts into something speedier and shreddier. Virtuosity is a common theme on this album. Though the band doesn’t inject it into every spare second they have, the guitar solos that do appear on the album are both fitting and very competent.
From a production standpoint, “See The Scars” hits all of the right marks. Everything is clear and easy to hear, and nobody is fighting for attention. When there’s a solo, it’s front and center, and most of the other times, the vocals take charge. There are some great moments like the post-solo section of “Messiah” where the double bass is absolutely punishing, or the fantastic harmonized leads of "Prisoner". On the whole, the production is executed well and keeps the focus on the songs, rather than detracting from them. For this reason, although the album isn’t particularly original, it is still an enjoyable experience. You can’t accuse Prisoner of worshipping or ripping-off a particular band (though the opening of "Risen From The Grave" sounds like a sneak preview of the new Iron Maiden album), and that makes the record a fun listen. It simply takes a number of metal tropes and presents them in a way that hasn’t been done hundreds of times before.
This album does a very good job of straddling the line of both speed metal and thrash metal. Though you could definitely argue in favour of the latter due to the insane tempos, frequent use of gang vocals, and aggressive drumming, the album seems to lean a bit more towards the former simply because it isn’t quite as heavy as a lot of thrash. Regardless of what you call it, Prisoner’s “See The Scars” is a stellar offering of metal!
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"Hung, Drawn & Quartered"
4.3/5 or 86%.
Written by Scott