LiveWire – Under Attack! [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]

I don’t remember how I heard about LiveWire’s debut record, Under Attack!, but I do know that its album artwork caught my eye as I scrolled through my Bandcamp feed, and, well, here we are. The Aussie troupe used to operate under the moniker Fenrir, but in 2019 they rebranded and shifted in style. Since then, a few singles trickled out of the pipeline until April, when this absolute supernova of a record exploded into existence.

Under Attack! is a megaton clinic in the exact thing I’m referencing whenever you read the word “hooks” in any of my reviews. Every riff, every verse, every chorus, every prechorus, constitutes a massive earworm that digs into the brain with serrated teeth. Songwriting versatility allows the band to apply this formula in fresh and fanciful ways, creating new textures and twists in every cut that keep things moving and maintain my engagement throughout. Moreover, their Havok meets Riot City meets 3 Inches of Blood meets 1986 aesthetic provides ample room for metal fans of olde as well as fans of newe to celebrate righteous tunes in unity.

A big portion of this record’s unconditional success comes from the infallible pipes of vocalist/bassist Nick Wilks. Whether he’s barking like a whiskey-soaked, enraged zebra on the thrashtastic “Lockjaw Deathroll,” or pulling out sky-high wails on “A Cold Day in Hell,” Nick feels right at home surfing the stratosphere. His joyous and soaring siren calls get major support in the instrument department, thanks to dual axe team Anthony Ierardo and Christopher Puglia. Their relentless string abuse bleeds pure adrenaline as it takes the form of a killer riff (“Conqueror”), infectious melodies (“Midnight Sun” and “Solace in Escape”), or ripping solos (“Hypnotik Idol”). Kit destroyer George Delinicolis further enhances already unfuckwithable tunes, his skillful acrobatics spanning the gamut of all methods trve, and driving this album into redline from start to finish.

What puts Under Attack! far ahead of the rest of the pack is fantastic songwriting. Album highlight “Midnight Sun” is a perfect example. It checks all of my usual boxes, but it’s not the engaging riffs or the infectious melodies that make it a standout. “Midnight Sun” boasts a verse to pre-chorus to chorus progression so mind-numbingly exquisite that each segment could be a world-class chorus in its own song. And yet, they bring out the best in each other as a dynamic trio nested inside a single, unstoppable track. LiveWire had the wherewithal to recognize, then realize, that potential. That’s the genius behind this record’s writing—in essence, Under Attack! is a cohesive construct, comprised entirely of indelible moments that just happen to shine their brightest when smashed together.

What’s incredible about that last point is that it applies to both the 29-minute standard issue and the 49-minute bonus track edition of the album. I think the 49-minute bonus track version wins my favor simply because the four extras it houses rip. I understand that they were written a few years back, and are therefore contextually removed from this new material, but they compliment that material so well regardless. No matter how you slice it, though, this is a damn near flawless trad/power speed/thrash debut. I can’t wait to hear MOAR!

Tracks to Check Out: “A Cold Day in Hell,” “Conqueror,” “Midnight Sun,” “Solace in Escape,” “Mirror of Fate (Bonus Track)”

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