Ross The Boss
New Metal Leader
posted on 1/2009 By:
I think it's safe to say you know what's in store here, correct? Go ahead, judge the book by its cover: that's a damned eagle blinding R.A. Salvator's buddies with a lightning crackling war hammer. And the band's called Ross the Boss for hell's sake. Nope, this ain't your trendy neighborhood post-black-apocalyptic-prog-woodsy-gloom-drone, friends. This right here's power metal. This right here's the New Metal Leader. So smell ya later, Mastodon and Trivium, your role as "saviors" is apparently no longer needed.
But yeah, that's an eagle smiting his enemies with a blinding hammer on the cover, so obviously this record was intended to lead a very specific faction of metal fans. Namely backwards thinking metal historians and dusty ol' codgers such as myself, to be perfectly blunt. So fish on, you newfangled metal zealots, fish on.
And for the remainder of us, it's the triumphant metal return of Ross fuckin' Friedman! The same man solely responsible for the guitar work on the first six Manowar records! I say "metal" return because The Boss hasn't exactly been killing us with power since he left DeMaio and company some 20+ years ago. Friedman's main focus over the course of the last two decades has essentially been Brain Surgeons, his long-standing hard rock outfit from NYC (along with a handful of other rock oriented endeavors). Yet somehow we elder fans of the Army of Immortals always knew he'd eventually find his way back to more metal pastures, and Ross the Boss is essentially the man's welcomed return to the fold.
Now, before you get too carried away with a "Hail and Kill" level of anticipation, I gotta say there are a couple roadblocks hindering this record from truly ushering the classic metal front forward. First, it's about as forward thinking as gramps still watching Bonanza from his venerable recliner with an Old Milwaukee in his hand. Not such a terrible thing for many of us within the intended target audience, but if you're hoping for a "fresh" injection of sorts, you'll not find it here. Half the tunes on this record strike with a decidedly Fighting the World flavor ripped right outta 1987. "Blood of Knives" stands as an excellent high-paced opener, and "God of Dying" and "Immortal Son" offer up slower beginnings just begging for an Orson Welle's accompaniment. But the true strength of this record strikes with "I Got the Right", "Death and Glory" and the fantastic "We Will Kill". These three cuts alone make this album worthy of attention from fans of Friedman's vintage metal sound, and they'll undoubtedly rekindle the fires with their driving rhythms, classic gang-shouted choruses and general call to arms.
Okay, so the "stuck in the 80's" factor admittedly isn't a very big deal, especially when you consider the folks who are likely to be interested in the first place. But the second element crimping New Metal Leader's style is the fact that the rest of the album simply falls short when stacked up against the tunes mentioned above. "Plague of Lies" and "Constantine's Sword" are both covers of Brain Surgeon songs, and they pretty much sound exactly that way -- a bit too hard rockin' for what I'd hoped would be a unanimously metal album. And the utterly abysmal "May the Gods Be With You" sounds more likely to have been birthed from the uterus of some Christianly Narnia-esque fluff band, so best steer clear of that sumbitch altogether. Vocalist Patrick Fuchs (who sounds a bit like a less savvy Daniel Heiman of Lost Horizon/Heed fame) brings an overall very solid performance to the table, but his tendency to overextend his range is highlighted on the less aggressive tunes here.
All in all, I'd call New Metal Leader a solid return to metal days for Ross Friedman and company. While there's admittedly a few hitches along the way, a solid 25-minutes or so of this record would make any classic metaller throw gauntleted fists into the air. It's certainly done the trick to spark my interest in what Ross the Boss releases next, so in that regard it's a homerun. I only hope the next endeavor curbs the hard rock a bit, because there's always room in my heart for more Kings of Metal.
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