Children of the Reptile – Heavy Is the Head Review

Like me, you probably haven’t heard of North Carolina’s Children of the Reptile. But we are going to fix that today. Because you should listen to them and their third LP, Heavy Is the Head. Despite the endless possibilities of poking fun at that album title, I’ve had too much fun with the record for petty dick jokes. Though catalog gems like “Good Times Orc,” “Master of the Forge,” “Cro-Magnon Combat,” and “Halls of the Skeleton Lord” would suggest Children of the Reptile are another budding power metal outfit, they are not.1 Instead, these maniacs play old-school heavy metal that delivers brilliant guitar work. Like the good ole days of metal, the two guitars play off each other, often playing different riffs that interconnect into one. They also tinker and explore with harmonizing leads and dueling guitar solos to make any guitar enthusiast smile from ear to ear. Now they’re back to bring light to your pathetic soul.

Unlike previous releases, Heavy Is the End sees the band diving deeper into thrash territories. While the typical guitar wizardry and clean vocals remain, this new outing has more edge than its self-titled debut. But, before you get to the full-blown guitar assaults, you gotta go through the hooking Dio rocker, “Warriors of Light.” If you’re familiar with the band, this piece holds no surprises. It consists of a killer old-school gallop, a catchy chorus, and impressive dueling guitar solos. But the crushing mid-point thrash transition hints at the assaults coming later on the album.

Songs you might not expect are “Burner” and “Seven Days of Fire.” “Burner” is a pissed-off thrasher from the halls of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All. On top of the aggressive, fist-pumping lyrics, the guitars tear through insanely fast riffage and a tasty duo solo. This track also shows off some clever vocal variation, including punchy backing vox. “Seven Days of Fire,” on the other hand, is fine, old-school thrash ala Exodus-meets-Metallica. At least, at first. Then, it uproots that old tree in favor of monstrous chugs before unleashing mighty olde-timey metal thunder. This track, in particular, was a pleasant and well-executed surprise for these Carolinians.

Two of the more melodic tracks on the album are “Fear the Old Blood” and closer “Oath to Order.” Both open with similar reverberating guitars and vocals before settling into their respective grooves. “Fear the Old Blood” uses low vocals and bass to set the stage before kicking it into high gear and concluding with a satisfying money shot. But the closer is something else entirely. So much so that I still can’t tell if I love it or hate it.2 Before you get to the big build and cruising riffage, you’re tortured with twangy, island guitar play that makes me wanna punch Jimmy Buffet in the fucking face. It’s fun if you like it. But, for me, it’s fucking dreadful.

Aside from the abomination of the guitars in “Oath to Order” and the sappy spoken word in “Last Words (Ruin’s Ride),” Heavy Is the Head is a very good album that buttons up a lot of meandering you’d find on previous records. It’s tight, precise, and well-executed without being wanky. The vocals won’t be for everyone, but there’s just enough variation, and the punch is there when needed. In lots of ways, the vocals remind me of Reign of Fury, which ain’t a bad thing. Another saving grace, especially with all the little details in each song, is the production. The master is rich and open, allowing every instrument, every note, and every cymbal crash to come to life. If it weren’t for a few issues that make it difficult for me to listen to certain songs again, Heavy Is the Head would have been an easy 4.0 for yours truly. That said, if any of these namedrops make you erect, you’re sure to love this beauty.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 7th, 2023

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Thank Christ.
  2. I’m pretty sure I hate it.
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