Hanover Fist 2020
North Carolinian merchants of metal come back with a vengeance to stomp on a shaky ground.
It took this collective four first years of their existence, which started in 1996, to deliver a duplet of albums but the band spent the same amount of time, after hanging in limbo for a decade, until 2016, to prepare another release. As suggested by the record’s title – as “HF III” follows “HF1” and “Y2K” – tradition is a major part of the trio’s method, and NWOBHM left an indelible imprint on what singing guitarist Ronny Lamanna and bassist Bud Shepard have done on each set of songs. Although the group’s music doesn’t show a lot of stylistic development, such raw-sounding pieces can be arresting without needless sophistication.
Despite its dark cover and cuts like “Cats And Dogs” that add harmonic sludge to the heady brew, the ensemble’s third offering isn’t about doom and gloom: infectious opener “Out Of My Head” and the cover of SCORPIONS’ “Blackout” testify to their proclivity for mischief in the same measure as the pairing of BLACK SABBATH’s “Sweet Leaf” and original tune “Peace Pipe” will. There’s a powerful groove in these pieces, propelled by drummer Eric Stahle who replaced his fallen predecessor, with “Juke Box Dance” piling hard rock tropes upon a thickly layered rhythm track and weaving an eloquent six-string solo into the rifferama, whereas “Room With A View” exudes a speedy menace and “Dreamin'” oozes out a Brian Wilson-esque pop merriment.
Perhaps less unexpectedly, half of “Captain” rides a folksy vibe before serving up a sonic assault and slowing things down again, while “See You Again” has the makings of a minor metal classic, and “Neurotica” sets anxiety in the heart of it all. The results of this approach are varied enough to keep the listener entertained, and live the trio must be impressive, so let’s wait till the Americans find a way to polish their metal in a studio and take off.