Sunday, 3 March 2013

Attacker - Giants of Canaan (album review)

Cover Artwork by Jowita Kaminska-Peruzzi
Heavy Metal goes through its fair share of trends and fashions, just like any other brand of music.  However, there's a certain kind of metal band that never goes out of style and through the years the trends flicker by like trees outside a car window but certain veteran bands stay true to themselves and true to the music they love.  Weehawken, New Jersey's Attacker is one of those bands.  For thirty years drummer Mike Sabbatini and co. have blasted classic heavy metal / power metal to the masses and they're not about to stop or change now.  'Giants of Canaan' is their fifth studio album, their third since re-forming in 2001 (the band originally folded in 1989) and first with Metal on Metal Records.

Attacker put everything the metal fan is looking for on display; guitar virtuosity, breakneck drums and expertly wailed vocals courtesy of Bobby "Leather Lungs" Lucas, whose balls out performance deserves special attention.  This is his first outing with the band.  Though I can't speak for the entire back-catalog of Attacker but at this point, with Lucas at the helm the band is a well-oiled machine.  Blood and sweat pour down the seams of every track.  Songs like "The Hammer", "Sands of Time" and "Washed In Blood" showcase his ability to let loose a wailing assault and keep the pedal down for the duration of the song, no easy task.  When one goes back and listens to the band's previous efforts with vocalist Bob Mitchell, it seemed as though the longtime vocalist was straining to reach those high notes at times, which is cool in its own way to be sure, but Bobby Lucas can take that extra step or two so that the band can really take flight.  It's a vocal assault worthy of the band name and worthy of the band's rich history.

History is on the mind of the listener when locked in to 'Giants of Canaan'.  Mesopotamian and biblical themes are explored in brutal fashion, recalling perhaps Metallica's "Creeping Death", but thrown against the wall until it expands and explodes into an album's worth of concepts.  It's a worthy subject, one that touches on current affairs with the United States playing the role of the 'Giants of Canaan'.

"Sands of Time" brings the concept together wonderfully, merging history with the fantastical in images of black leather, electric axes, metal forged in fire and sonic assaults, with the final battle taking place at Toklien's Helm's Deep, the titular subject of the band's original 1985 album.  The song tells the story not only of the band's history but of the gestation of metal as a whole.

"Black Winds Calling" borders on extreme metal with an ultra aggressive delivery, akin almost to 'hate metal' legends Kreator.  "Steel Vengeance" continues to up the aggression factor.  "The Glen of the Ghost" is a triumphant note to go out on.  Hopeful themes and the chorus "So let's raise a toast / To the glen of the ghost / And let us all pray / That we're not led away" wrap things up on a high note, ascending to glittering mead halls in the clouds.

Attacker label their sound as 'classic metal the way it's meant to be played' and one can't argue against the description.  As metalheads go on in life we all wander off and find our own favorite subgenres and offshoots of subcategories of subgenres and so on, but one thing that appeals to nearly all metal fans (with the possible notable exception of black metallers) is old school metal with wailing vocals, piston pumping drums and shredding guitars and that's what we get from Attacker.  Classic metal the way it's meant to be played.

Highlights include: "Curse The Light" and "The Hammer"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 51:31

Bobby Lucas-Vocals
Mike Benetatos-guitar
Pat Marinelli-guitar
Jon Hanemann-bass
Mike Sabatini-drums

From: Weehawken, New Jersey

Genre: Heavy Metal / Power Metal

Reminds me of: Arkham Witch, Bedemon, Dawnbringer, Iron Maiden, Jag Panzer, Manilla Road

Release Date: February 2, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Scaling the vine-strewn walls of the ziggurat under cover of night for plunder and glory. For freedom.

Better Reviews:
Metal Kaoz
Axis of Metal
From The Dust Returned

Attacker on facebook
Attacker on Metallum

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