Penetrator - Penetrator
Sonic Age Records
Classic Heavy Metal
9 songs (32'09)
Release year: 2005
Penetrator, Sonic Age Records
Reviewed by Marty
Surprise of the month
Showing an almost complete disregard for current modern metal trends, Toronto's Penetrator play the type of classic metal that they want to play. Sure they may sound a bit dated and you have to wonder whether there is still an audience for this 80's worship brand of heavy metal but all you have to do is take a look at the very strong and loyal following that they have in and around the Toronto area and you have your answer. Penetrator is made up of veterans of the Toronto music scene, including guitarist Bess Ross who besides being involved with bands like Anvil, Brawl and Travelin' War, was a guitar tech for Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath during the Never Say Die tour. Lead vocalist Maxel Black originally got into the music scene as a guitarist before making the switch to lead vocals. Rounding out the line-up are bassist Dave T. Green, who got the gig in the band via a "Musicians wanted" add in a magazine and drummer Ogie Dawg. Penetrator's demo recording Unleash The Fury was made in 2004; not long after the 4 members got together. The chemistry was just right and the songs came together fast and furiously. It got great reviews and after shopping the album around to various labels, they landed a deal with Greece's Sonic Age Records in 2005 to finally get it out to the masses.

The first thing that brought a big smile to my face was the ferocious riff attack of guitarist Bess Ross. The man just spews out riff after riff of blistering metal and in the day where many power metal bands just play muted passages over pummelling double-bass drums, it's very refreshing to hear such riff based heavy metal from a "new" band. With stacks of Marshall amps and several classic guitars ranging from vintage Stratocasters to Gibson Les Paul's, Bess Ross is a virtual metal monster. The guitars are huge and the riffs double-tracked to give the band more of a classic Accept, Judas Priest type of guitar sound. The busy riff style is all very original and expertly executed with the in-your-face mixing of the guitars on the album really bringing the listener back to the heydays of the 80's that spawned this heavy metal style. For the most part, Bess Ross solos over a backing rhythm guitar track but there's a couple of tracks where there is no backing rhythm guitar. Being a one guitar band, this may be an attempt to capture more of the "live" Penetrator sound and not make the single guitar factor such a big deal.

Unleash The Fury gets things underway and it is a fine example of Pentrator's riff-driven Judas Priest Painkiller era style of metal. The title track, Penetrator is pure Rob Halford worship on the part of Maxel Black. The speedy up-tempo Judas Priest style metal is accented by Halford screams and falsettos. There's a couple of tracks where de-tuned guitars are used to throw a passing nod to current metal trends although it was Black Sabbath that first introduced the #C tuning in a metal sense with their Master Of Reality album. Aggressive vocals are also used in spots for the track Templars Of Hate which otherwise has a solid 80's metal feel. In a complete about-face, Maxel's voice can also take on a more classic Dio or Klaus Meine (Scorpions) edge. Muso In A Bottle uses a mix of Latin-influenced acoustic work with heavier edged riffs giving the entire track a Scorpions like feel. Besides the speedy title track, thrash metal influences can be heard with Shock Therapy, another track featuring Halford/King Diamond like falsetto vocals.

Penetrator is a band that has a firm grasp on all the right ingredients needed to create solid heavy metal. Their music features a stellar display of very clever riffs, tempo changes and styles that range from classic Priest heavy metal to more melodic Scorpions styles as well as pounding heavy de-tuned metal and thrash metal. They certainly cover a lot of ground and kudos also to Dave T. Green and Ogie Dawg for a solid backing rhythm section. The production is pretty good for this album but it still has a "demo" like quality and it sounds like some tracks were recorded in different locations as the sound quality varies. With a solid guitarist who can pump out muscular riffs song after song and a singer who has the pipes and versatility to front a classic sounding metal band, all this band needs is a little better production on subsequent releases and to continue to develop their song writing skills. I'm sure that this will rectify itself in the future and seeing as this is their first album, I see great things on the horizon for Penetrator. Last November, they entered the studio to begin working on their second album to be called Voo Doom. They are also part of Metal Queen Management's Canadian Music Week Festival Showcase at The Vatikan in Toronto on March 4th along with Cryptopsy, Warmachine and Shatterpoint. They have toured throughout Canada and the U.S. and if they play around your area any time soon, be sure to check them out!.

Killing Songs :
Unleash The Fury, Muso In A Bottle, Wheels Of Justice and Penetrator
Marty quoted 78 / 100
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There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:37 pm
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