Classic Review: Airwolf “Victory Bells” [Rockport Records]

Classic Review: Airwolf “Victory Bells” [Rockport Records]

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Score 89%
Summary
89 %
User Rating : 4.9 (1 votes)

Trends during the mid/late 80s were clear for the metal bands’ musical direction. Either they were focused on the ways of extreme metal or, instead, they gave a try to a more melodic style. Somewhere in the middle, other German bands with an underground status started producing material with perhaps a very basic production but an unbelievable quality. These bands were unfortunately unable to launch a real career as they were not able to sign big deals with important labels, so their releases were limited to very few copies and whoever is able to get one is not just acquiring an album, but a jewel. This the case of the only full-length album Airwolf brought out in their short career.

The musical blueprint followed by Airwolf is pretty much similar to that of Tank‘s debut release (starting with the Frank Zellman‘s raspy vocals, though some shrieks from Udo Dirkschneider can be identified at some moments); however, Airwolf‘s proposal takes the raw and aggressive sound of the British band to a higher level mixing that sound with all that good stuff from earlier releases – namely, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Blind Guardian, Judas Priest, etc. The band bet for faster numbers and harsher distorted guitar riffs which provide an uncommon sound, somehow comparable to the musical proposals from Mephisto and Sweet Cheater. This sound is reflected from the very beginning with the opening track, which delivers a thunderous discharge of speed metal, pretty similar to Tank‘s “Turn Your Head Around”, though guitars in the former are more distorted. Thereafter, the album does not change that much, with the exception of some mid-paced numbers like “Through the Fire” and “Take Off Atlantis”.

The title track is the best number here. As normally seen in the Euro power metal scene, the albums usually have a lengthy proggy epic number, and this is the case of said song. It encapsulates the feeling of a battlefield in a very special fashion and provides a very unique overwhelming atmosphere comparable to that Running Wild would use for their number “Riding the Storm” (even the structure is somehow similar between these numbers). The guitar playing it offers is also a reason why this number is easily the best song, especially the melodic arrangements included throughout the same. Other highlights include “Death Metal Rain”, “Swordbreaker” and the opening track. These numbers are similar though certain differences can be identified, especially in their intros. For sure, what they share is a very frantic pace which is guaranteed headbanging for the lucky listener.

Unfortunately, this project was not able to appropriately take off, as it happened with many mid 80s German power metal bands, mainly due to the lack of a label with enough capacity to allow a wider commercialization of the release, and God knows how many official copies they were able to produce. It is needless to talk about the production, since although it is not the best, it is at least what the album needs considering the raw sound the band widely exploited throughout its eight tracks. The last thing to wonder is whether someone figured out that this release could have been a perfect soundtrack for “The Underworld” saga. Is it possible to imagine how incredible would that saga become with such a soundtrack? Who cares! Go ahead and enjoy this fucking riff-fest.

Release date: 1988

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