Spartan Warrior – ”Hell To Pay” (Pure Steel Records)
When Spartan Warrior released their debut, Steel N Chains, back in 1983, our paths never crossed. Which is unfortunate as their brand of Saxon inspired NWOBHM was, and still is, one of my favourite brands of Metal. I only discovered Spartan Warrior a few months ago when someone posted a You Tube link to the album on Facebook and it was love on first listen. And then, as if by magic, their new album arrives for review. So 35 years on from their debut, can Spartan Warrior still deliver the goods?
Well, I know I’ve certainly changed from the pisshead 16 year old I was back in 1983. My hair is longer, I can grow a beard and unfortunately, I’m a lot heavier than the skinny kid I was back then.
I’m saying this because Spartan Warrior have changed, a lot and on first listen I wasn’t overly impressed. But then I decided to look at it from a different angle, because I hadn’t allowed for the band to change ,35 years of sounding the same wasn’t really a realistic proposition.
For a start, they’re more of a Hard Rock band than a Metal band, which is mainly due to Dave Wilkinson’s vocals, which are a lot more melodic and he no longer sounds like Biff Byford. Guitar wise, this still packs a punch, but overall, it’s a very different sounding band.
There are still a few rockers on this album, and for me personally, they are the stronger songs. Both ”Court of Clowns” and especially ”Walls Fall” Down are the sort of dandruff shakers I was hoping for on the album. And the final track, ”In Memorium” is a heavy beast as well.
And I feel the album is split into two camps. What would have been the old “side 1” is more Rock based, while the old “side 2” is the Metal part. But both sides are lacking a bit of fire/urgent, yet, at the same time, they are really good songs. Particularly ”Shadowlands”, which probably just edges it as my favourite song on the album.
So, I cannot criticise the songs on here at all, all I can say is that I would have liked a heavier approach. But it is what it is and this is still a very strong album.