Night of the Warriors
(Killer Metal 2015)
Hailing from Madrid, Spain, Thunderheart are a new band, but its members are talented veterans of the trad metal wars. Guitarist Willy Gascon is perhaps best known as guitarist/songwriter from Steel Horse. Drummer Ricardo Lazaro also cut his teeth in Steel Horse. And vocalist Javier Pastor made a name for himself as guitarist/co-writer in Wild. So what we really have here is a supergroup of sorts, an alliance forged from the best of the Spanish traditional heavy metal scene. Seen through the prism of that impressive pedigree, Thunderheart’s debut album was greeted with great anticipation and excitement by aficionados of the burgeoning Spanish classic metal scene. Thankfully, cool German underground metal label Killer Metal Records thought enough of ‘Night of the Warriors’ to give it a much-deserved worldwide release.
Make no mistake: Thunderheart have delivered the goods on this debut album, proving themselves fully worthy of inclusion in the conversation of heavyweight traditional heavy metal hopefuls, along with their predecessor bands and their esteemed colleagues from Sweden, Germany, Canada and the United States. The band do not attempt to reinvent the wheel on ‘Night of the Warriors,’ a compact 9-song, 35-minute exercise in trad metal done right. Most songs hover between 3 and 4 minutes in length, featuring anthemic catchy choruses and Gascon’s arsenal of tasteful melodic riffs and leads, many of which harken back to the best of the NWoBHM era. I realize that’s something of a trendy sound these days, but when it’s done this well, who cares? Also, any worries about Pastor switching from guitar in Wild to lead vocals in Thunderheart may be assuaged immediately. The dude can sing, and he delivers his lines in a clear confident English that eludes so many of his countryman vocalists. If anything, he reminds me a bit of Alexx Stahl (Viron, Roxxcalibur, Masters of Disguise), or perhaps the guy from Metal Inquisitor. That’s a good thing.
A great feature of ‘Night of the Warriors’ is that the energy never lets up and the quality never wanes. There is no filler, no wasted space, no B-grade ideas or going through the motions to pad the running length. Even the 92-second intro, “New Horizons,” is killer. This album doesn’t overstay its welcome either, which could be a concern given the similarity of the material if it dragged on for 10 or 15 minutes longer. Instead, Thunderheart comes out of the gate swinging with the likes of the truly awesome “Show Them Our Fire,” pummels the listener between the eyes on “Thunderheart” and “Concrete Jungle,” then moves on after “Rise or Fall” before you even have a chance to catch your breath. In fact, my only criticisms of ‘Night of the Warriors’ are that the mix seems a bit off (Pastor’s vocals too low, Gascon’s rhythm guitars too high) and the band haven’t really forged their own independent identity or sound just yet. Also, it appears that Thunderheart need a bassist, since Gascon handled both six- and four-string duties on these recordings. Still, for fans of Spanish heavy metal or high-quality trad metal generally, ‘Night of the Warriors’ merits close investigation.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~