Skull Fist – Chasing the Dream [album review]

Skull Fist – Chasing the Dream
2014, NoiseArt Records

“The true must keep the spirit alive.”

skull

This album is huge: this album is three-cans-of-hairspray-a-day, stadium-pyrotechnics, 70-inch-plasma-screen-out-a-hotel-window-huge.  How the hell did I miss it back in 2014?  Probably too busy trying to appreciate the kvltest atmospheric bedroom-black metal I could find and refusing to read Metal Hammer or something, but I digress.

Skull Fist play trad NWOBHM, heavy on the shred, extra speed, no bullshit, good for the steel soul.  Previous releases, Head öf the Pack (full-length, 2011) and Heavier than Metal (EP, 2010) did just that and Chasing the Dream follows the pattern.  What sets this album apart from its predecessors is the gleaming production.  No one element is lost in the mix, each instrument is discernible and illustrates, that despite all the bravado, Skull Fist are proficient musicians.  The obligatory twin-guitar volley is equal parts incisive and melodic, capturing the classic heavy metal sound, while the minor key sections give a nod to WASP.  The sparkling production not only inflates the songs, but combined with the over-the-top vocals and solos, gives the album a more glamourous feel than the prior records, as well as some of their new-wave trad contemporaries, so much so that deduct  20 , ahem, 30 years and tracks like Bad For Good and You’re Gonna Pay could easily have supported gravity-defying drum-kits and heavy-rotation, pout-filled music videos.

Undoubtedly, such a quality has made Chasing the Dream somewhat divisive, more so though, it’s those spiring vocals and addictively saccharine harmonies which have proved to be the album’s greatest bone of contention.  Bolstered somewhat by the engineering the vocals truly soar and wouldn’t be out-of-place in the realm of power metal; crucially though, the premium quality of the musicianship elsewhere prevents them from smothering the album.  If you like Enforcer you’ll have no problems but doubtless longer-term fans will disapprove of the progression from the previous releases, that said, it’s hard to believe anything but pride would prevent any trad-fan from getting on board with the choruses and refrains on offer here.

It’s fast, fun and straight-out the 80s; there’s shred, choruses and denim’n’leather a plenty; the songs are massive, the hooks are colossal; there’s no point arguing, just go with it (8.5/10).

NB: Skull Fist have just started a MAJOR European tour with Belgian speed-freaks Evil Invaders…just sayin’.

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