Lethal Saint - s/t 3.5/5

Reviewed: 5-1-10





Tracklist:

1. Chains of the Devil
2. Final prayer
3. Thunder strikes
4. Evil inside
5. Heavy metal knights
6. You're a sinner
7. Night of the sin
8. Rock 'n' roll survivor
9. Visions in the night
10. Midnight warriors
11. Wild in the night
12. Lethal Saint


It is a source of endless amazement to me that teenagers the world over have re-discovered classic 80s-styled traditional heavy metal. After all, this style was out of fashion for a very long time. Presumably the emergence of acts like Cauldron, Enforcer, RAM, White Wizzard, Voltax, etc. owes a great deal to the massive worldwide popularity enjoyed by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, so it's only natural that youngsters would pick up their guitars and play music in that same style. While some critics have turned up their elitist noses at this phenomenon, dismissing it as dated, stodgy, recycled music created by ignorant and naive kids who are living in the past, I am elated. In my formative years, I cut my teeth on LPs (no CDs back then) like 'Powerslave', 'The last in line', and 'Defenders of the faith', not to mention 'Fighting for the earth' and the W.A.S.P. debut, so this kind of music has always struck a (power) chord with me and is thoroughly embedded in my DNA after all these years. It's the sonic equivalent of comfort food for me, in that it sounds very familiar and unchallenging, but comfort food is underrated.

The latest entrants in this increasingly-saturated old-school classic metal genre are Lethal Saint from, of all places, the island Republic of Cyprus. The booklet of their self-titled debut CD leaves absolutely no ambiguity as to the contents of the accompanying disc. Band photographs reveal the quintet clad in leather jackets, cut-off denim vests, and black t-shirts (mostly advertising their own band). From the fresh-faced looks of them, most or all of the members of Lethal Saint were not even alive in the 80s. The super low-budget cover art (created with colored pencils, apparently) shows a crudely drawn fireball emblazoned with the LS logo smashing into a metropolis and unleashing havoc and devastation. I suppose it's metaphorical. Oh, and song titles include "Heavy metal nights", "Wild in the night", and "Thunder strikes." The combined effect is that you don't have to hear a note of the music on the CD to surmise that you're in store for a slab of traditional 80s metal, straight with no chaser.

And that's exactly what Lethal Saint deliver on this 12-song debut effort. The simple and sturdy guitar riffs, the moderate and musty production values, and the straightforward arrangements all scream early-80s heavy metal. When the pieces fall into place properly, Lethal Saint can be an extremely enjoyable listen. On tracks like "Thunder strikes" and "You're a sinner", the engaging guitar melodies mesh with the catchy choruses to capture the essence of the acts that Lethal Saint emulate. Superb stuff. Elsewhere, "Chains of the Devil" begins with the creaking chains sound effect (which immediately brought to mind W.A.S.P.'s "Tormentor") before exploding into an uptempo romp with fun gang vocals and timeless guitar lines. The lads in Lethal Saint have clearly done their homework and have learned much from the masters.

Unfortunately, Lethal Saint are not quite ready for the big leagues yet. The most glaring weakness with this CD is the whopping 71-minute running time. The dozen tracks on display tend to be very similar to each other and, with an average length of nearly 6 minutes, most of them outstay their welcome by a minute or 2 before they mercifully end. Metal songs as simple and stripped-down as these shouldn't last longer than 4 minutes or so, and the level of repetition can become mind-numbing on songs like the 8-minute snoozer "Visions in the night", which not only beats a dead horse, but flogs the thing into Elmer's glue. This effect is magnified because it happens so often on this CD. More is not always better, fellas. I would have loved to see Lethal Saint hook up with a good producer to sculpt this sprawling debut CD into a tightly focused 9-song, 42-minute ass-kicker that crisply encapsulates and presents the band's best ideas without diluting them in tedium. Also, vocalist Andreas Pouyioukkas has talent, but also has a propensity to veer off-key and offer up some rather painful shrieks. A bit more refinement on his part would improve the final product immensely.

Mileage will vary on this Lethal Saint CD. I can overlook the above-mentioned flaws, simply chalking them up to youthful exuberance and inexperience, and focus on the positive qualities like the awesome "Thunder strikes". But I fully understand that some listeners will be turned off by the excessive length, archaic production qualities and sometimes iffy vocals. Wherever you stand on this release, Lethal Saint are a band to watch. With a little more experience and stick-to-it-iveness, they just may uncork a hammer of a CD one of these days.



KIT




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