Heavy metal stalwarts glance at their glorious past to shine what wasn’t really patinated.
It’s always a little bit pointless to be recording your old songs anew to reflect a personnel change – a concert album is a much better solution – and it always reeks of creativity crisis, yet the very paradigm of metal has changed since the early ’80s, when this British collective started off. Their first albums are considered NWOBHM staples now, yet Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans, whose guitars defined the band’s sound for 35 years, seem determined to update classic cuts, so the numbers that form “Re-Ignition” – all taken from those four LPs – feel both familiar and fresh. As a result, there’s no need for an aficionado zeal when such pieces as the hymnal “Just Like Something From Hell” effortlessly assert their vitality: the listener can appreciate the songs without a glance at the original versions.
From the polished riff and catchy chorus of “Walking Barefoot Over Glass” through the sweet anger of “This Means War” on to “The War Drags Ever On” – a speed epic which fails to deliver its message but drags, indeed, the group are on fire. Bringing a lot of vigor to the table, ex-PINK CREAM 69 singer David Readman is able to balance danger and soulful edge on “W.M.L.A.” or “He Fell In Love With A (Stormtrooper)” that have danced through decades with much grace, but the hysterical presence of Dani Filth from CRADLE OF FILTH on “Shellshock” and SODOM ‘s Tom Angelripper on “Power Of The Hunter” allows the ensemble flaunt the influence they had on both contemporaries and acolytes in a different way. Still, while “Honour And Blood” may not see modern techniques explicitly applied to it, this groovy piece is given an adrenaline shot with every lick and vocal phrase, whereas “Blood, Guts And Beer” rages as an aural analog of a pub brawl – all in the name of pure energy.
Which is why “Echoes Of A Distant Battle” becomes more than a reminiscence about former glory – it’s a statement of the veterans’ relevance. Time to reinforce it with something unheard, though.