Screamy vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums – zero keyboards. At least not much of it. Well, this would usually be the recipe to make Heavy Metal. Right?
And truly so, the Greek band Marauder graces us with their 6th full-length studio album Bullethead carved out of a block of solid, steely metal.
Marauder seem to be mainly known in the Greek metal community after all these years of existence. There are also some other marauders, Merauders, and what have you in existence in other locations. Which again does not help things.
So, slaving away in relative obscurity, they tend to deliver piece over piece of solid metal to their fanbase. Methinks that the global powers of metal smile a bit more on them since they signed on to a record company. But still, I am amazed at how some bands still refuse to play the full spectrum of instruments social media offer to them. And yes, I know all of this sucks.
And don’t they take their sweet time releasing albums? Starting in the early ’90s, they delivered new material every four years or so. This is pretty lengthy when wanting to keep up interest, oomph, and speed of progression. To illustrate, the remarkable Elegy of Blood got nailed to their cross in 2012, with Bullethead coming out this early May 2016.
Their brand of Heavy Metal really cuts it down to bare bones only. Well, most of the time, sometimes Power Metal lifts its ugly head. But only sometimes. Yet, most of the time they serve riffs, licks, and solos evoking memories of Iron Maiden without the screams of Bruce Dickinson. Delivered in a somewhat scratchy, gruff way to boot by the new frontman Nikos (Mygas) Antonogiannakis. Mix a few parts of Black Sabbath, Dream Evil, and Krokus into the fray, and you about got the gist.
All the woozy stuff other bands like to put into their tune sometimes out of total delirium is just not present. On top of all, they got rid of the cheese quite prevalent on their aforementioned piece Elegy of Blood. And that is definitely yet another positive.
To add to the distinct early metal flavor, Bullethead sports several guest appearances. Notably, Tassos Krokodilos (Spitfire), Kostas Tokas (Power Crue), and Makis Tselentis (2002GR).
And all of this is good. Yet, it leaves the fanbase with something that we for sure all heard before. But with enough of their trademark meaty crunch to keep things very interesting in a genre that is considered stale by many. Close to being undead for some. Just sayin’.
None of the tracks are shorter than four minutes. And that means that they did not jump onto the commercial bandwagon too much. But it’s also often a sign of superior quality. And as good Heavy Metal often does, Bullethead also showcases this somewhat eerie ability to churn out catchy hooks and melodies.
The tracks kind of gallop around this metal landscape of theirs. Sometimes a bit too much to my taste. So much so, that the theme gets overused after a while. A tad more variation would have done the album a lot of good quality-wise. But apart from that, the album is pretty solid, nothing much amiss.
Now – somewhat to my surprise – their first track Son of Thunder greets us with an acoustic intro, very soon going very metal on you. With some sort of monologue to kick things off.
You gotta be brave and very sure of your abilities to get going with an 8-minute epic monstrosity. But I like what they did. There’s a great solo in there, too. Another highlight is Tooth N Nail, very traditional Heavy Metal right off the bat. But then a little further down the road, the speedy Thrash Metal heavy Predators races away. One of the rockiest, fastest metal shards thrown at the audience in this album.
But hold on to your seat, your hairpiece, extensions, or hat. Whatever you got fixed on you. ‘Cause Bullethead starts to pull out the stops towards the end.
If you can’t wait that long, just go fast-forward and listen to The Fall. The one with the Power Metal sticker stamped all over it. A stellar track, but also slightly overcooked, if you are a bare-bone metal guy. But by far not cheesy enough if you are a Power Metal dude or dudette.
None of the remaining tracks are bad, by the way. All of them are rock solid metal. We couldn’t find any fillers so prevalent on records of other bands’ pieces sometimes.
Now, where does this all lead us? Did Marauder live up to their motto “For us, metal is enough”?
Well, for starters, I reckon Bullethead to be their most mature album to date. Galloping metal, mixed with catchy choruses all about the album, with sometimes insane licks and solos in all that heavy riffing. The aforementioned gruff vocal delivery adds the necessary spice to keep you humming along and do some headbanging as you move along.
For all you Heavy Metal fans out there, this album is definitely for you. And Bullethead is varied enough to please the acolytes of Power Metal, too. At least for the middle-ground folks. This one goes into my metal collection, for sure. And it should also live in yours. If you are into that kind of metal, of course.