No, this is not an album by your local alcoholic beverage regulatory commission, nor is the band a Tankard knock-off. Actually, Booze Control are a four-piece traditional heavy metal band from Braunschweig, Germany (a lovely city that I had occasion to visit a few years ago for a gig at the Meier Music Hall). They’ve been kicking around since 2009 and have three full-length albums to their name, counting this brand-new ‘The Lizard Rider’ opus. Of late, it seems that Booze Control’s career is on the upswing, as the lads are sporting a higher profile and enjoying their new collaboration with France’s reliable, high-quality Inferno Records label.
I’ve seen Booze Control described as a New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal / NWoBHM act. While I can agree with that classification, there’s definitely something quintessentially ‘80s German metal about them too. It’s hard to describe, but I detect a certain youthful naivete to their approach that sounds vibrant, refreshing and delightfully unaffected. The songs are simple, catchy and fun. Booze Control don’t try to dazzle with you technical wizardry, overpower you with pummeling heaviness, or shred you with blazing speed. Instead, the 10 tracks on ‘The Lizard Rider’ are just honest, old-fashioned heavy metal, with a warm retro production. It’s like listening to, I dunno, Gravestone or Brainfever or Faithful Breath or the first Custard EP or early Stormwitch even, which to me is an awesome thing. For a more modern comparison, Metal Inquisitor wouldn’t be a million miles off target. Guitarist/vocalist David Kuri adds to the effect with his slightly quirky, nasally, but clean mid-ranged vocals that perfectly enhance the classic German heavy metal vibe of the entire project. For the most part, the songs on ‘The Lizard Rider’ hover around the four-minute mark, nice mid-tempo tunes with twin-guitar riffs that get the head nodding and choruses that get the voice participating. That said, the band prove adept at hitting the gas pedal from time to time, most notably on “Metal Frenzy.”
‘The Lizard Rider’ is the kind of album that has a certain endearing quality, so it should come as no surprise that I have a soft spot for its charms. It’s pure, undiluted, uncomplicated heavy metal from the heart, and man, the world could always use more of that. What’s more, some of these songs are real earworms. Traditional metal doesn’t get a whole lot catchier or more hummable than “The Wizard” and “Gravelord,” two amazing tunes which get me singing along every single time. Other highlights include single/video tune “Vile Temptress,” the infectious dual-axe melody swing of “Nevermore,” and the mighty “Fury Road,” but the whole album rocks. Oh, and you “guest appearance” buffs will be pleased to hear that Jackie Slaughter of Skull Fist lays down a scorching solo on “Rats in the Walls.” I still don’t know why the hell this album is called ‘The Lizard Rider’ (I guess it has something to do with the song “Vera,” which references “eats lizards like a feast” as to a particular lethal weapon, or is it a woman?), but I know the music and the cover art alike are bad-ass. That’s good enough for me.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~