Rock, Rob - Holy hell 4/5

Reviewed: 11-18-05


1. Slayer of souls
2. First winds of the end of time
3. Calling angels
4. Holy hell
5. Lion of Judah
6. I'm a warrior
7. I'll be waiting for you
8. When darkness reigns
9. The revelation
10. Move on

Roy Z co-produced and co-wrote this CD. Go get it.

Do you need to know more? And you’ve listened to ‘Accident of birth’ or ‘Resurrection’ lately? Okay, if we must.

This 3rd solo CD from metal mainstay vocalist Rob Rock hits an essentially perfect note in melodic, American style heavy metal with plenty of power and speed. While the magnificence that was ‘Rage of creation’ more perfectly captured the glory and feel of a sublime 80s metal CD, this offers a sound more attuned with slightly fresher millenium metal, but one that completely otherwise adheres to the ideals and traditions of pure and classic metal. More than anything, this offers a heavier, crunchier guitar background to the work, but Rob’s unique vocals are sung with such passionate melody that this is completely welcome. Memorable songs, powerful crushing atmosphere, strong and compelling vocals, melodic metal guitar work, all are here and delivered with glorious results.

The guitar work has a heavy sound, but a classically melodic sensibility, akin to such work as that found on the afore referenced ‘Accident of birth’, Iced Earth, and Judas Priest’s ‘Angel of retribution’. Rob Rock the vocalist has a long and storied, if not overly publicized career, and as you know has appeared with many metal acts, including the shredding subgenre in MARS: Project Driver and Impelliteri, later on with Axel Rudi Pell, on one of the more recent Warrior CDs, and on the Avantasia projects, and if you’ve heard any of those, you’ll be familiar with Rob’s compelling voice, pure and classic metal, but very much unique, and if you have no idea, you’ll find it somewhere around the rich, mid-range melodies of Geoff Tate, Tony Martin and Saxon’s Biff Byford.

While ‘Eyes of eternity’ was an enjoyable melodic metal CD, to me it was a slight disappointment from the more personally highly regard ‘Rage of creation’. ‘Rage of creation’ struck me right from first listen as a perfectly executed, sublime example of classic 80s heavy metal, at a time when that exact timbre was devastatingly fresh and nostalgic at the same time. ‘Eyes of eternity’ was good, but came across with a sound that was not as strong, heavy, or as powerful as its predecessor, and as mentioned, the guitar work and production on ‘Holy hell’ have especially imbued it with a more metallic conciousnesness that is deeply satisfying.

For those who are interested in such, lyrically this CD continues in the Christian vein of subjects seen in its 2 predecessors. However, from the title track to the opener "Slayer of souls", most of the lyrics are dealing with the darker elements and images of religion, including the always popular Revelations, and thus while you may know Rob’s general viewpoint, this is really pretty typical of classic metal like Helstar, Manowar’s "Revelation", etc., and thus something that will not be jarring or upsetting to those who cringe at the thought of Stryper. It's also quite in keeping with the dark majestic sound of the CD, even more so than, for instance, the somewhat light-weight ‘Eyes of eternity'.

The CD includes a cover of ABBA’s "Move on", but for once, a choice to cover a song by that band is really a good one, as it includes a bit more typical metal thought and emotion, and is delivered into a truly moving counterpoint to the brimstone and sonic thunder of the rest of the CD, a contrast that works quite well, and is an example of a cover of a completely non-metal song that works well on a metal CD.




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