Reviewed by Mike Paradine
Album: Giants of Canaan
Label: Metal on Metal Records
Release date: February 2nd 2013
- As They descend
- Giants of Canaan
- Trapped in Black
- The Hammer
- Washed in Blood
- Sands of Time
- Curse the Light
- Black Winds Calling
- Steel Vengeance
- Born Into Battle
- Glen of the Ghost
I have to be honest here. I personally have known the guys in Attacker for many years. As a teenager, they were the first local band to be signed to a label and at that time, it was a monstrous accomplishment. And because of this, they seemed very intimidating until I met original guitarist, the late Jim Mooney (who I found out later on that we were related) in college. Soon I started hanging out with him periodically in local bars and just talking music. Many years later, Attacker and the band I am with now, shared the same practice space over an auto mobile repair shop in Bayonne, NJ. We saw each other very frequently and it was drummer Mike Sabatini who first congratulated us on being signed to our first label. More recently, Mike and I meet about once a month at a local diner and catch up on everything metal.
But now, as a reviewer I have a job to do and all personal feelings are put aside. Attacker’s music always struck me as being in the category of real true metal. They didn’t have the taste for American metal that was rooted in blues/rock, played at a high volume that was prevalent at that time. Their music was more in the style of the early days of underground NWOBHM and their first album “Battle at Helms Deep” proved this. Their second album, “Second Coming” was a personal favorite of mine. Though the musicianship was strong on both albums, vocalist, the late John Leone, had a better texture and feel for Attackers music, bringing it up to the next level. Don’t get me wrong, Bobby Mitchell brought them to the forefront and continued to do so afterwards, but every so often he would have a whiney pitch to his vocals which would remind me of early Vince Neil. Now after a few setbacks and a new singer, Attacker brings forth their new effort, “Giants of Canaan”.
After the intro of “As They Descend” we get right into the thick of the album. “Giants of Canaan” starts right off with a face paced tempo which changes often. The different changes could challenge a song but it all comes together like clock work here. Even the acoustic interlude doesn’t disrupt the flow of the song.
The band then takes a different approach in “Trapped in Black”. It is more of a straight forward song and has a cool and catchy pre-chorus. The alternating guitar solos that Pat and Mike put together here show how well they work together.
Influences are evident and upfront in the songs “The Hammer” and “Sands of Time”. The guitars in “The Hammer” and vocal line in “Sands of Time” both have Iron Maidens “Powerslave” running through its veins.
The fifth number “Washed in Blood” is probably the weakest song on the album. Not a bad song at all but the chorus gets little repetitive for me.
“Steel Vengeance”, one of my favorites on the album, seemed liked it could have been a lost song from Halfords, “Resurrection” album. It has the same driving sound and high vocalisation throughout that album.
With its galloping rhythm and catchy vocal line, “Curse the Light is my favorite on the album. Great vocals and good dynamic bass and guitars make this just as good as anything put out by the bigger bands in the last few years. Great song!!!!
Attacker has always been known for throwing in a healthy dose of good old thrash metal and in “Born into Battle” they don’t disappoint. Bobby turns the notch up a bit on his vocals to a more brutal texture for most part. You get your ass kicked on this one!
“Black Winds Calling” steps into the bands vicious wicked song on the album. The vocal attack turns into an angry tone for most of the song, but also uses a small melodic touch to offset the nature of the music. Guitars also scare up some riffs from the early Maiden albums.
From the first notes of “Glen of the Ghost” the listener can reference Iron Maiden’s “Dance of Death”. The same feel, same sound and Bobby brings out his finest Bruce Dickinson voice.
Overall, there are the immediate comparisons to Maiden and Priest but I also hear Helstar, Jag Panzer and sounds from the album “Heart of a Killer”, from Winters Bane, Ripper Owen’s earlier band, in a few songs. The album was produced by Attacker and Patrick Guden and it shows that you don’t need a big time producer to do a great album. In fact I think a well known producer would have done more harm than good on this CD. I see a lot bands with a great sound get polished and over done when using one.
The outstanding portion of the album, as a whole, are the performances given by twin maniac guitarists, Pat Marinelli and Mike Benetatos. All I can say is that they fit perfectly together, as in the vein of Tipton and Downing and I’m not saying that lightly. Grinding out razor like riffs mixed with hints of thrashy rhythms, you can actually feel that they enjoy playing off each others notes. The solos are inventive and they compliment each song, which just adds to the overall superiority of the album. Drummer Mike Sabatini knows when to add fills and when to hold back. This technique lets the song breathe and the listener has various ways to view verses and chorus’s when they come back into play. Now we all know bass players get overlooked most of the time. But here John Hanemann holds the music together like a vice grip, that has just enough force to let the rest of the band have the freedom to go off without flying off into space. He ties everything together to solidify the whole sound. Bobby Lucas, well he just does an outstanding job here. Hitting various notes all over the scale, Bobby assumes the role of “THE” metal singer. He has an aggressive side much like Sean Peck of Cage, but also channels James Rivera and of course Dickinson. Now, while he perfectly uses his octaves to bring that classic metal style alive, the thought does cross ones mind on how this will translate to live performances.
After finishing the album, you won’t walk away with a catchy chorus burned into your brain right away. What they do accomplish is something even more important, something rarer. They bring back the feeling when metal was like a new present to be unwrapped. To have an idea on what you are going to hear, but not fully knowing what to expect at the same time. The sense of anticipation that sets upon your emotions and then feverishly playing an album to full satisfaction. It brings you back to that specific time in metal when all was exciting. That is what you have here. It is something that is lost amongst today’s releases. The only album that had the same effect on me within recent years was WOLF’s “Evil Star” CD. There is only negative critique that I can give. When I listen to an album for review, I put everything dead center. No added treble, no added bass, no added anything. I try and listen to it as it was recorded. I would have liked to hear just a touch of bass or bottom to the whole recording, to give the album a little more punch. When I added my personal touch to it, which is just a bit of bass, the bass drum slammed me in the gut and the songs opened up a bit more. But again, this is my personal way of listening and everyone has their own style so it’s more of a matter of choice than anything else.
“Second Coming” was my favorite Attacker album up until this one. Even though it is still young, I doubt that any future releases for this year will surpass this one for me. 9/10