(Metal on Metal 2016)
As darkness fell on 2016, the always-reliable Metal on Metal label issued a trio of high-quality pure heavy metal albums. One of those was Metal Law’s ‘Hellrider’ disc. If the band name rings a bell, it should. Metal Law are a German traditional metal band that released a pair of fine albums in the ‘00s, namely ‘Night of the Wolf’ in 2007 on the Battle Cry label and ‘Lawbreaker’ in 2008 on Metal on Metal Records. After a prolonged eight-year hiatus, Metal Law are finally back with their third album. More precisely, singer/guitarist/writer Karsten Degling is back with an entirely new supporting cast of musicians. I do not know the inside story of how that sequence of events came to pass (i.e., what happened to the other guys, why it took so long for Degling to reconstitute the band, etc.), so I will not speculate. The important thing to know is that Metal Law have returned, and they’re stronger than ever.
What does that mean for you? Well, if old-school, chest-thumping true metal of the German school is your thing, then it means you should celebrate. Metal Law’s sound is very much in line with their countrymen in Majesty, Grave Digger, Wizard, Dark at Dawn (especially vocally), Rebellion and so on, with an obvious infatuation with Manowar and an affinity for the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Accept. Obviously, this is well-worn musical territory a la bands like Greywolf and (sometimes) Aska, with the expected musical and lyrical clichés, but that’s part of Metal Law’s charm. There are times when I listen to new music that I want it to challenge me, test boundaries, and push the envelope. But there are other times when I listen to new music that I want it to sound warm and comfortable, familiar and triumphant. This ‘Hellrider’ disc is tailor-made for the latter circumstance. This is music for blasting out of your car stereo with the wind in your hair, pumping your fist as you sing along at full volume to mostly mid-paced, anthemic, head-shaking tunes like “Hellride of Steel” or “In Metal We Trust” or the magnificent speed of “Thundergod.” These are songs about riding motorcycles and cranking heavy metal and living for the music that flows through our veins. No, it isn’t complicated or technical or particularly cerebral. But it feels good, and it conjures up a twinkle of that same life-affirming thrill that you felt when you first started listening to this music so many years ago.
The reason why ‘Hellrider’ works is that it’s very well executed in all respects. The songwriting is strong, and the tracks are laden with catchy melodies and cool choruses. The performances are worthy, especially in the tasteful guitarwork and the gruff yet charismatic vocals that oddly but effectively channel Eric Adams from time to time. Production is powerful and professional. The 12 tracks (including a remake of the standout “Crusaders of Light” from the 2008 ‘Lawbreaker’ album) are consistent in terms of both style and quality throughout. Hell, even the cover painting of label co-boss Jowita Kaminska-Peruzzi complements the music perfectly. For fans of Manowar and the rougher-lunged German traditional metal style, this Metal Law ‘Hellrider’ album should be a blind buy. Here’s hoping that not another eight years go by before we hear from Karsten Degling and Metal Law again.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~