By Laina Dawes
Ah, the eighties. Many a time when asked about the music scene in the decade of hairspray, glitter and excess, I remark on its cheesiness – the hair bands – grown, heterosexual men whom mistakenly thought that by applying neon-pink lipstick and mascara and wearing ball-hugging cheap spandex leggings that it would actually make them appear more masculine. Coupled with the penchant for classic metal bands to add keyboards and a disco beat to attempt to get on Top 40 radio …. I usually dismiss it as generally being a depressing time for the metal scene.
However, recently I was reminded of some of the great musicians of that era when I listened to Ross the Boss’s New Metal Leader. The ex-Manowar guitarist seems to be reliving his heyday, as the album seems to be a complete replication of something that would have come out of England (or Los Angeles) at that time. First, I haven’t listened to Manowar since I was about fifteen but from the first listen, I remembered what a kick-ass guitarist Ross the Boss is. His razor-sharp NWOBHM-era riffs, especially on “Death and Glory” have that classic Judas Priest Defender of the Faith-sound, and the songs are generally punchy but tight.
“Plague of Lies” is eerily similar to Motley Crue’s “She’s Got The Look That Kills” with the emphasis on the snare drum and similar riffage and tempo, but all is forgiven, as it’s tight, catchy and crisp. But here’s a hint: If you listen to this album, make sure that you have a good /stereo/IPod/MP3 device because it sounds like they mixed the bass and the vocals really low to heighten Ross’s playing. While making total sense, it’s a bit distracting.
Now about the vocals: Singer Patrick Fuchs, whom along with bassist Carsten Kettering and drummer Matze Mayer, were in a Manowar tribute band called Men of War (get it?) is not necessarily a bad singer – he’s got the Dio-lite / Halford / Tim “Ripper” Owens thing down pat. But the unnecessary histrionics and shrieks with no discernable purpose, coupled with horrible, horrible lyrics (see “We Will Kill”) really dampen this effort.
This really is a weird album to be putting out in this day and age. Honestly? I don’t think anyone under 30 is going to get it, as the song structure one every track seem to deliberately mimic what was once popular. On the other hand, Ross the Boss is obviously sticking to what he knows best, and there is nothing wrong with that, but he runs the chance of alienating a whole demographic of people who should be schooled on the classic stuff.
If you’re in the New York City area this upcoming weekend (August 28th) Ross the Boss will be playing at the Brooklyn Thunder Fest with Raven, White Wizzard, Zandelle and Titanium, Black at Club Europa.