Somewhere in Sweden, a compulsive workaholic musician named Cederick Forsberg has compiled an amazing winning streak. Within the last four years, he has nearly singlehandedly written, recorded and released three Rocka Rollas albums (plus an EP), a Blazon Stone album, a Breitenhold album, a Mortyr album, and a Lector album, no doubt among others of which I’m not aware. Of course, mere quantity is no guarantee of quality, but Forsberg has a remarkable knack of coming up aces every time, it seems. ‘The Road to Destruction’ proves to be no exception to the rule.
Make no mistake: Rocka Rollas play pure melodic speed metal. The tempos are almost uniformly fast (the lone exception being track four, “Firefall”), Forsberg’s vocals are high-pitched and emotional, the guitars rip and tear at lightning speed through an impressive array of addictive riffs and melodies, and the refrains are instantly hummable, anthemic and compelling. Listening to ‘The Road to Destruction’ is a bit like combining early Running Wild, ‘Walls of Jericho’-era Helloween, Blind Guardian’s first two albums, underground 80s German speed metal like Not Fragile, Mania, Scanner, Atlain, Brainfever and so on, as well as a pinch of late 90s/early 00s Swedish power metal fare like Steel Attack and Nostradameus. The principal difference between this album and previous Rocka Rollas fare is that Forsberg handles the vocals himself here, whereas on past albums he had guest singers including the raspier powerful American Joe Liszt (Ancient Empire). Forsberg’s vocals are higher, thinner, more difficult to understand, and technically imperfect. But here’s the thing: He has a certain charm, a certain charisma and heartfelt conviction that easily outweighs any technical shortcomings in my mind, just like the singers of most of the above-mentioned bands. No one ever said that Kai Hansen is a gifted singer, but you don’t want to hear anybody else sing “Ride the Sky” do you? Me neither. Same goes for Cederick Forsberg and the Rocka Rollas material.
Listen, if old-fashioned melodic speed metal is your bag, there’s really no excuse for not supporting Rocka Rollas. Forsberg may be insanely prolific, but the guy knows what he’s doing and he keeps a tight lid on quality control at all times. Besides, all indications are that he’s trying to convert Rocka Rollas into a real band. Three other musicians (guitarist, bassist and drummer) are both credited and pictured in the booklet, and Rocka Rollas have even performed at least one live gig in Sweden. Whatever the future may hold, ‘The Road to Destruction’ is an absolutely killer slab of thundering, high-velocity melodic heavy metal. Don’t miss out, my friends: The war of steel has indeed begun!
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~