(Underground Power 2016)
The Spanish heavy metal scene is really something special. They have the Pounding Metal Union, a nationwide coalition of die-hard metalheads who share their love of traditional heavy metal and pool their resources to bring stellar international acts to Spanish shores. The pinnacle of the Union’s achievements is the Pounding Metal Fest, which I attended in Madrid two years ago. In terms of lineup, vibe and organization, the Pounding Metal Fest compares favorably with its more famous brethren in Germany and Greece. This spring marks the Pounding Metal Fest X, whose roster includes Riot V, RAM, Metal Inquisitor, Leather Heart, and local newcomers Frenzy, who recently released their debut 5-song EP, entitled ‘Lethal Protector.’ Although technically a new band, having formed in Madrid in 2014, Frenzy is comprised of seasoned veterans of the Madrid metal scene, including several ex-members of the sadly defunct Steel Horse.
This ‘Lethal Protector’ EP is immediately fascinating because of the comic-book angle. The four original tracks on display (there’s also a smashing cover of Racer X’s “Loud and Clear”) are all based on comic books, with songs about Spiderman/Venom, the Hulk (that one’s entitled “Change to Green,” haha), Sin City and Ghost Rider. Better still, the CD booklet presents the lyrics for each song in comic book form, with illustrated panels and the lyrics appearing as text or character dialogue. It’s extremely well done. Not sure how (or if) the band addressed the legal/licensing aspects of using these trademarked characters, names and images, but Frenzy deserve huge props for both the concept and its execution. The back cover of the EP even depicts comic-book style images of the band members having a dialogue about Peter Parker and professing not to be on one side of the conflict or the other, but instead to be “on the heavy metal side.” Bands from Anthrax to A Sound of Thunder have long demonstrated that heavy metal and comic books go hand in hand, but Frenzy’s approach to the joinder is unique and quite clever.
Musically, Frenzy fit neatly alongside their compatriots such as the aforementioned Steel Horse, Thunderheart, Wild, Leather Heart and bands of that ilk. By that, I mean that the music is very much in the 80s traditional anthemic heavy metal style, with catchy melodies, gang-shouted choruses, and a few hard rock elements for good measure. A few ingredients make Frenzy’s take on the genre special, though. The guitarwork of Luis Pinedo and Victor Diaz is fiery, tasteful and downright head-turning in spots, as befits a band that tackles challenging Racer X covers for sport. And vocalist Anthony Stephen is a gem, turning in a fine performance laden with emotion, range (check out those high notes in the pre-chorus of “Change to Green” or “Ride to Be Free”), and just the right amount of grit and swagger. All four original cuts on ‘Lethal Protector’ are well-written winners, with big hooks and smokin’ riffs. I was never a Racer X fan, but the “Loud and Clear” cover ends the EP on such a high note that I feel like I need to check out the classic works of that band.
The only problem with ‘Lethal Protector’ is that, at five songs and 20 minutes, it’s just too damned short. It is, however, a fantastic introduction to the world of Frenzy. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the Madrilenos’ full-length debut whenever it arrives, but this will tide me over nicely in the meantime. Keep on pounding, Pounding Metal Union. You make us all proud!
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~