Last year, Finland’s Loanshark released their first EP. Both the band’s name and their humorous mascot appear to be homages to the legendary Riot, and while they aren’t necessarily an identical point of comparison, Loanshark definitely plays classic, old-school heavy metal. This EP is 5 blistering tracks of pure metal, with not a single modern influence in sight. Even the production sounds straight out of the 1980s, with a thick bass sound that easily cuts through the mix, and distorted, but not totally overdriven guitars.
The immediate highlight on “Loanshark” is the infectious “Dead Men Tell No Tales”. This is a high-speed, energetic affair that has a chorus designed to sing along to at shows. While the rest of the EP can’t reach these heights again, the approach isn’t all that different, nor is there a major drop in quality. “The World Is Yours” (another Motorhead title?) shows Loanshark’s singer unleashing some falsettos in an attempt to compete with his Canadian brethren. His voice in general is a little bit out there, which is exactly what makes him such a great heavy metal singer. His voice hearkens back to a time when singers were somewhat distinctive, and you could instantly identify a band after just a few words. He spends much of his time in a fairly high range, only occasionally progressing into the stratosphere.
Much of Loanshark’s success comes from their ability to create memorable hooks. Admittedly, connecting the dots between the song titles and each vocal line can be a little difficult, but each song is almost instantly recognizable after just a couple of listens. “Cry Manila” sticks out on the latter half as being another major winner. Once again, it is the vocals that really elevate the track, but it also features some worthwhile soloing. The closing effort, "The Mirror Never Lies", gains its strength from stellar harmonized lead guitars that open the song. Truthfully though, nothing this band does will surprise or wow you, but they’re so good at it that it prevents Loanshark from getting swept away amongst the crowd. The hilariously terrible mascot helps too.
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"Dead Men Tell No Tales"
"The Mirror Never Lies"
4.3/5 or 86%.