Ambush – Infidel Review

I have many things to be thankful for in life, but among the luckiest of happenstances was the opportunity to be a metal loving teen growing up in the 80s. That was truly the golden age of all things metallic, with the genre growing, evolving and mutating into multiple sub-genres at a ferocious rate, and I got to be there to experience it all first hand. I was especially fond for that early era when the only genre of metal was metal, and my love for the “classic style” is just as powerful now that I qualify for AARP benefits. This makes me an easy mark for the slick 80s-centric approach of Sweden’s Ambush. These retro rockers have been knocking about since 2013, and Infidel is their third and most highly polished outing, showcasing a sound that blends AcceptJudas Priest and early Dokken with traces of Euro-power. There are many bands doing this type of throwback homage music, with Enforcer and Wolf key among them, and success depends on catchy songcraft and the proper “metal as fook” attitude. Ambush has both in (ace of) spades.

The opening title track sets the stage with aplomb, featuring aggressive, classic-style riffs and the soaring vocals of Oskar Jacobsson. It’s the kind of the song that could have  dropped anytime from 1983 to 1987 and it’s not far removed from what Enforcer made their mark re-doing on albums like Diamonds. The classic NWoBHM trademarks are there, as are nods to the American sound and the early beginnings of Euro-power. The crucial ingredient is hooks and they’re here in abundance with shirt snagging vocals and ear grabby riffs. “Yperite” is even better, hitting the 80s arena metal sound perfectly, with simple riffs and pounding drums providing the runway for vocal sorcery. At one point it will remind you of the early Ozzy material, and the next you’ll hear nods to Krokus and even Hammerfall. Its charm lies in how addictive and mindlessly fist pumpy the writing is. If you aren’t smiling foolishly and banging your head by the 2:50 minute mark you soul is deader than disco and just as worthy of contempt. The album highpoint is the titanic metal anthem “Hellbiter,” which is like the perfect 80s metal song meticulously reconstructed from the bones of one hundred dead 80s metal bands. It features every trick from every successful 80s act and manages to be silly, badass and as metal as metal can get. It will stick in your head like an arrow from a compound bow and it’s easily my most listened to song so far this year.

Another chestnut is the urgent, in your face “The Demon Within” where the early days of Euro-power play heavily in the writing and guitar harmonies carry the day. It makes me want to brandish edged weaponry as I strike heroic poses on my roof, but Madam X has strictly forbidden such vulgar displays of metallurgy ever since… the incident. Elsewhere, “A Silent Killer” is anything but, as it runs you down with hard driving riffage, olde school bombast, and overly rolled “R” sounds. At a tight, concise 43 minutes, Infidel rocks hard and rides freely away without any fatigue, and even though there’s a very slight drop in song badassery on the tail-end, no track is bad or in need of cutting.

This is the kind of vintage metal album that makes you play air guitar whether you want to or not. The riffs are just so infectious and rocking, your hands just seem to find that invisible fret-board and go to work lustily. Adam Hagelin and Olaf Engkvist lay down one classic lead after another, paying homage to all the legendary tandems of metal lore with their slick harmonies, and their solos are appropriately wild and vainglorious. Most importantly, their playing conveys that feeling of sheer fun and excitement that’s so essential for this style of metal. Oskar Jacobsson is the ideal singer for this material, sounding like a winning combination of Joachim Cans (Hammerfall) and Olaf Wikstrand (Enforcer). He has the range required for the style and wisely doesn’t overuse his air raid screams. He has ample charisma and elevates the material with smart vocal lines and well placed wailing. The band is tight and talented and they certainly know the 80s sound inside and out and can reproduce it smartly.

Infidel is 100% recycled material from a bygone era and it’s 100% fun anyway. Look not to Infidel for cutting edge musical progression, and look not here for serious, “thinking man’s metal.” If however you’re searching for a dose of what makes metal worthwhile, you came to the right place to get Ambushed. I know for certain this thing will be beaten to death this spring/summer, and in this day and age, certainty goes a long way. Recommended.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: High Roller
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 13th, 2020

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