(High Roller 2014)
Fear not, my friends, for the traditional metal revival is alive and well in Deutschland. The five German metal maniacs who comprise Stallion certainly have the image down perfectly: studded denim patch vests, leather jackets, bullet belts, red zebra print headbands, Japanese rising sun spandex pants, the works. They’ve also got the backing of old-school metal specialist label High Roller Records, and are riding a wave of positive buzz in the underground stemming from their 2013 vinyl-only EP, ‘Mounting the World’ (two cuts from which are presented here in re-recorded form). Inquiring minds want to know: Does ‘Rise and Ride’ live up to the hype?
Well, yes and no. Devotees of the classic ‘80s speed/power style will find many thrilling, electrifying aspects of this album. The opening two tracks, “Rise and Ride” and “Wild Stallions,” display Stallion’s power and might at full strength. The former is a galloping anthem with an insanely catchy gang-shouted chorus and inspired lyrics such as, “For those about to ride, we salute you.” The latter is pure speed metal, brilliantly capturing that wild Skull Fist careening-off-the-rails vibe. Elsewhere, “Stigmatized” is another spectacular rush of energy. “Canadian Steele” is a fitting ode to the many fine young purveyors of molten metal goodness in the Great White North, name-checking bands (and song titles) from the likes of Skull Fist, Cauldron, Axxion and Striker, and sounding almost like a Skull Fist cover tune. Then there’s “The Right One,” which takes the listener through the dilemma of setting one’s drink down at a party, and forgetting which one it is. We’ve all been there, and oh what a drag it is. Stallion’s ingenious advice? “The full one is always the right one.” Haha, I’ll have to remember that.
All of that said, your mileage may vary with ‘Rise and Ride.’ It’s a regrettable fact that some of the midtempo tunes come across as drab and lacking that certain something. They seem particularly lifeless in contrast to the high-energy ass-kickers alongside which they are nestled in the tracklist. Singer Pauly’s high-pitched rasp (think Jackie Slaughter from Skull Fist infused with a dose of Udo-style grit) will undoubtedly grate on some listeners, although personally I think he rocks. And dammit, no matter how hard I try to ignore it, the brazen theft from Running Wild’s “Port Royal” that kicks off the album is a major irritant. I mean, I know there’s nothing new or original in today’s classic metal movement, but don’t make your pilferage so blatant. Look, I think Stallion have all the talent and ability to deliver a genre-defining classic. ‘Rise and Ride’ doesn’t quite get there, but the day may come soon when, as the band puts it, “the Stallion destroys everything that’s in its way.” In the meantime, saddle my horse as I drink my last ale, for bowstring and steel will prevail.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~