Hotwired and primal, sole guitarist Bryan Martin’s riffing style brings to mind early Mötley Crüe and Black Sabbath, his leads bluesy and often blistering. All the while Dennis Stimpert’s sure-fire interlocking bass lines, and dare I say ‘polite’ fills, embrace the songs with a sentinel like presence. Equally significant is the spirited drum work delivered by Mel Taylor on the tracks from When Midnight Calls and by Norm Wrigley on the tracks from Down Eternity’s Hall. On top of all this Paul unveils autumnal lyrics with reach for the sky Dickinsonesque vocals.
Of the songs themselves, arpeggios often begin the balladic and mid-paced rockers as in “Chasing the Pain,” - the definitive lighter in the air ballad in this collection. While “Do You Want to Live Forever” is a bluesy number with a moody prog-like atmosphere, the type of song that begs to be *experienced on headphones in the dark. Right after you’ve listened to the soulful ballad “Kiss of Beltaine” of course.
On the heavier end of the spectrum we have “Wings of Steel,” a pulse quickening headbanging romp recounting World War II pilots flying off to war (one of my personal faves). When lo and behold, the howling crunch of “Cry of the Wolf,” the angry groove-trippin’ “Hypocrite,” the reoccurring escalation of “Soldier of Fortune,” the gripping mysterious ride of “Hell’s Hollow” and the unique twisted burn of “The Gift” are all enough to keep you under the spell of nostalgic headbanging fist-in-the-air metal-dazed recollections. And that’s not all!
There are four more thaumaturgical tracks to encounter in this retrospective cauldron of melody and riffs. “Bitter Trials” is a straightforward hard-rockin’ reflection all us earth dwellers can easily relate to. By contrast, “It Can’t Be Me” initially embraces the melancholic, then a few whiskers later picks up the tempo. Stirring up the cauldron more we find the heartfelt melodically sensible “Room Without A View” brooding thoughtful as it speaks of the war in Bosnia. Last up for a laying on of words is “Waiting For You,” a song you can hold your loved one to. Well, at least until it gets faster and you find yourself with that irresistible headbanging impulse. Heck, you could even end up moshing to it.