Ok trivia fans, did you know that the early album covers for Oz were designed by Bathory’s Quorthon and his hand actually appears on the cover of the bands 2nd album, 1983’s, Fire In The Brain?
And with that opening statement, you’ve probably guessed that Oz are an old band. They originally formed in the late 70s, and kept going until 1991. They reformed 20 years later. And this version of Oz is basically a completely new band, with original drummer, Mark Ruffneck, at the helm.
Transition State is the bands 1st release containing all new music since they disbanded in 1991 and the title of the album really does tell the story of where the band are today. Because I can’t say this is a bad album, but it does show a band they have yet to find their feet, and direction.
The album starts in fine form with Bone Crusher and then Restless, both cranking up the Metal way beyond number 11. And the structure of the songs remind me of Accept, probably somewhere around the Metal Heart / Russian Roulette era. Vince Kojvula has a strong voice which suits the pure Metal assault perfectly.
After this opening salvo, I expected another 11 tracks of a similar ilk, as they pay homage to the Fire In The Brain era of the band, with a good fresh approach. Pretty much in the same way Mark Tornillo did in Accept. Different vocal style, but the same feel.
Unfortunately, for my tastes, the title of the album is very evident from song 3 onwards. Heart of a Beast is more Hard Rock meets Power Metal and it feels like the band are trying out a few styles to see which one works the best.
I can’t say I dislike what they’re doing, but this doesn’t seem like it’s the same band all the way through. Oz have had a few band members over the years, and one would presume, a number of different song writers, so I guess the lack of cohesion shouldn’t come as huge surprise.
So top marks for the musicianship, production and the songs in general, but they really need to decide if they’re going to play Metal or Hard Rock, or even Power Metal. Because at the minute, they’re slap bang in the middle of 3 different genres.