Death Dealer - Hallowed Ground (9/10)
The second CD from the pure metal behemoth that is Death Dealer delivers everything you could want from a great heavy metal album. Scorching power and ascendant glory wrapped in memorable songs that stay in your heart and mind. Take a mix of Manowar, Metal Church, Iron Maiden, and mix the elements on the altar of Judas Priest's Painkiller, and you have Hallowed Ground.
You could be forgiven thinking of this band as a "super group." The extensive curriculum vitae of the collective members is beyond impressive. Ross Friedman, of the Dictators, and uh, a little band called Manowar, is one of the stalwart axe slingers from the band. Guitarist Stu Marshall might not have quite the name recognition, but anyone who has heard his sublime CD's with Empires of Eden, and his work on Metal Church's Ronny Munroe's solo albums, know what a metal genius he is at mixing melodies and speed. Howling vocalist Sean Peck is a paint peeling singer in the mold of Halford's most intense. He's so prolific even those with the shortest attention span can't avoid him, as in the same month this CD was released, so was an epic new disc from his "main" band, Cage, as well as a stunning EP with metal royalty Michael Denner and Hank Shermann. Mike Davis on bass is not only a veteran playing with some guy named Rob Halford, but somewhat nearer to the heart of us cult metallists, was with Lizzy Borden as well. While drummer Steve Bolognese doesn't quite have the past resume as his cohorts, be assured that he pounds the skins with gloriously rhythmic ferocity to bring the metal thunder.
No need to choose between power and melody on this disc. For all the unrelenting aggression of "Gunslinger" and "Plan of Attack", or the gloriously superheroic violence of "K.I.L.L.", the songs never fail to capture a memorable melody line that soars in your mind and spirit. "Breaking the Silence" brings things down as a nice mid-paced counterpoint where the anthemic chorus takes center stage, and you've got a disc with track after track of engaging thunder.
The lyrics are unapologetically heavy metal grandeur. Pirates, superheroes (uh, if Disney is reading this, they are generic, no need for a cease and desist letter to Herr Peck for "Plan of Attack"), western gunslingers, demonic warriors, and everything we love is here in full throated embrace. But perhaps nothing is as compelling a story as a satanically possessed German submarine in U-666.
In a year of incredible metal output, from so many great newer bands, there's still no excuse not to pick up Death Dealer. No real surprises, just glorified metal perfection.
-Craig Wisnom, "Metal Law"
True Metal Lives
The Voice Of The Underground