This is a late review, but that’s what happens when you live in Canada and get eight days of summer per year: you spend all your time frolicking amongst the dandelions instead of in a darkened room blaring metal. Anyhow, this new release from Stallion grabbed my attention for only one reason: in 2013 they had a song called “Canadian Steele.” Never mind the fact that Stallion are a German band: a reference to Canada in the form of a thrashier version of Judas Priest pricks up my ears. From the Dead is the band’s second album, and promises to be a trve heavy metal platter in every sense of the phrase.
“Underground Society” is the lead-off track, pure 80s metal with guitars panned left and right, staccato riffing. When the vocals come in a minute into the track they throw you off – if Stallion tried I bet they could be a Bullet tribute band. Meaning the music here kicks ass but the vocals are shrieky almost to the point of comedy. Singer Pauly (all these guys have only first names) likens himself to a cross between the vocalists from Cirith Ungol and Bullet. Not inaccurate, but to me he sounds like what I imagine Joe Elliot would sound like if he sang for a thrash band. I have a love/hate relationship with these vocals – just like I do with Bullet’s Hell Hofer. At times he kicks ass, but at other times the screechiness is beyond irritating. How the listener feels about Pauly’s voice will be the gamebreaker for From the Dead.
Vocals aside, though, this is a super old-school metal album. Pretty much every song sounds straight from 1985, with big drums, aggressive guitars, and growling bass. This is a tight, talented band. “Down and Out” is a mid-paced anthem, while “Hold the Line” picks the pace up. Perhaps the oddest song on the album is “Waiting for a Sign.” It starts immediately with a verse – and thus Pauly’s vocals – and sounds much like the rest of the album, until the chorus, which is saturated with 80s synth patches, turning the song into bubblegum metal. But hold on! Halfway through the band kicks into high gear, “Waiting for a Sign” becomes a thrash song, and then after some frantic moments devolves back into the 80s hair metal. Weird. Lucky for our faithful readers, the band has put all their songs on YouTube, so this is the one I chose to feature. Check it out.
Musically this is a really fun album, but there are numerous flaws that will probably keep From the Dead from garnering too much airplay here. As much as I want to like this, the boxy drum sounds tend to wear down one’s ears, Pauly’s vocals never really let up, walking a fine line between cool and ludicrous but far too often tripping into the latter, and finally, a few of the songs (like “Waiting for a Sign”) outstay their welcome. Half are over five minutes when they could be four, and more enjoyable. The exception is “Kill Fascists,” which lasts all of seventeen seconds – maybe I should have linked to that video?
Ultimately, Stallion’s From the Dead comes off as a bit of a conundrum. It’s more polished and well put together than their earlier work, and there’s some really good songs on here (the title track kicks butt, as does album closer “Awaken the Night”), but the polarizing vocals make the long songs longer, leaving me wishing I could hear this album with a different singer. But if you like Bullet, or can imagine what Def Leppard would sound like as a thrashy German act, this might be your cup of tea.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: High Roller Records
Websites: stallion2013.bandcamp.com | heavymetalstallion.com | facebook.com/heavymetalstallion
Releases Worldwide: June 30th, 2017