Warrior - The wars of gods and men 2/5

Reviewed: 4-22-05





Tracklist:

1. The wars of gods and men
2. Do it now
3. Never live your life again
4. Salvation
5. Three AM eternal
6. Mars
7. Unseen forces
8. Hypocrite
9. Naked aggression
10. Love above all


California's Warrior have a decidedly uneven track record as far as I'm concerned. Their mid-80s Metal Blade debut, 'Fighting for the earth', is rightfully hailed as a minor classic of sci-fi, futuristic traditional metal, with a touch of L.A. hard rock. (This CD is so rare, so expensive and so good that it cries out for a proper reissue. Anybody listening?) To this day, tunes like the awesome title cut, "Defenders of creation," and "Only the strong survive" rank among the finest slightly commercial U.S. metal ever laid to tape. The 1998 follow-up, 'Ancient future', released more than a decade later, was a veritable snoozefest with one or 2 strong songs, but massive quantities of generic, mid-paced filler. Somehow, the band rallied mightily on 2001's 'Code of life' opus. Longtime vocalist Parramore McCarty gave way to vocal god, Rob Rock, who elevated even mediocre material to excellence with his truly remarkable pipes. But it wasn't just Rock, as the entire band kicked it up a notch in their performances, attitude and songwriting. This band appears to suffer from split personality disorder. So which Warrior would appear on their new 4th CD, 'The wars of gods and men'? Unfortunately not the one I was hoping for.

Although there have been several personnel changes, the most jarring development in the Warrior camp is that the revolving door continues behind the microphone. Rob Rock has flown the coop, and Krokus's Marc Storace takes over the vocal duties. I've never been a Krokus fan (save for "Headhunter" and maybe one or 2 other songs), but Storace is actually an able fit for Warrior. His husky voice may not hit the piercing shrieks of 2 decades ago, but the Swiss veteran pulls it off well, often sounding reminiscent of Biff Byford and perhaps Ian Gillan (circa Sabbath's 'Born again') with an occasional Bon Scott snarl for variety's sake. So, no, I don't fault Storace, even though Rock is much missed. The real problem lies in the bland, occasionally too modernish songwriting and the stiff, lifeless guitar work of Joe Floyd. Each song appears confined to a single, lumbering, midtempo, simplistic, unmelodic riff repeated ad infinitum for 4 minutes. If the riffs are uninteresting, and if the rhythm section is simply keeping an identical midtempo beat, then there had better be some killer choruses. These are hit and miss, and mostly just okay. Despite the CD's abbreviated 40 minute running time, it fails to hold the listener's attention because sometimes there's little of interest happening.

I will not praise 'The wars of gods and men', but I do not intend to bury it either. Repeated listenings reveal some credible songs, including most notably the catchy title track (best vocal performance on the CD), the relentlessly heavy, doom-laden crunch of "Salvation", the memorable "Unseen forces", and the energetic "3 AM eternal". Also, even though Warrior cannot be classified as a doom band in the conventional sense, many riffs pay unmistakable homage to classic 70s Black Sabbath, only with a two-ton production job that makes this CD sound like a bulldozer plowing into your living room. On that basis, I could see die hard Sabbath maniacs going bonkers over this. For the rest of us, there are some pounding tunes and it's a novelty to see Storace fronting a traditional metal band. But with the burgeoning onslaught of high-quality power/true/traditional metal CDs flooding the market, Warrior's 4th CD faced an uphill struggle to keep pace with the competition.



KIT




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