Review: Ossian “Acélszív” [Hungaroton]

Review: Ossian “Acélszív” [Hungaroton]

- in Reviews

Hungarian metal is something that has yet to break into the West and while bands like Ossian and Pokolgép have been doing their thing since the 80’s, I really wish that they’d get some more recognition. Especially these guys, because regardless of their enormous catalog, they continue to release quality albums.

I often wonder how certain bands end up sounding so unique. The examples are endless, of course and Ossian, too, are one of those cases that could only get described as a band that sounds like themselves. Oh, sure, “A rock lázadói” brings to mind Accept with its bulky riffs and the speedy licks of “He, te” somewhat resemble Helloween’s pre-Keepers era, but just like their country mates Pokolgép, Ossian sound like no one else. Vocally, too, this band is quite an outcast and right away it should be mentioned that Endre Paksi may not appeal to everyone. Whereas plenty of metal have a larger-than-life appeal to them, or at least sound somewhat heroic, Endre Paksi sounds rather vulnerable, or at least, very humane. There’s a passionate quality to his mid-range and while listening to his brief yelps, it’s as if they’re unleashed out of fright instead of might; yet you never get the idea that you’re listening to an extremely skilled vocalist to say at least… but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s a wonderful contrast when compared to the maelstrom of sharp riffing that fuels almost every song.

Of course, getting used to the vocals would be an excellent idea, because Acélszív sounds pretty wonderful and emotionally versatile, too (and I’m not talking about the loud speed metal track that follows up with a superficial ballad that was made with the intention of being a hit). Acélszív definitely leans towards the heavier and dare I say… more serious side of heavy metal and I’m tempted to claim that any heavy metal fan should have a good time with it. The title track immediately turns into action with some flexible and sharp riffs and even though it’s not the heaviest song that the album has to offer, it makes a fine introduction. “He, te!” quickly follows up; it’s a rip-roaring speed metal number that harkens all the way back to the early days of Helloween (remember when Kai Hansen wasn’t an unimaginative songwriter?) and if you like your speed metal to sound dirty and somewhat unrefined, then you’ll have a good time here. I also like how Acélszív has a few surprises in store and it shows that Ossian are quite an unpredictable band. “A nyugtalan” starts off in a balladic fashion, but quickly leads into a blistering verse of quasi-thrashing, with even some female vocals later making it between the wailing vocals and impaling riffing. “Metál-nemzedék” is another superb slab of heavy metal; with some softer guitar passages kicking things off, before a dramatic riff and Endre Paksi’s frightful wails lead the narrative and I also enjoy how the upbeat chorus contrasts with the meaner verses that come before it.

Just like most things in life, Acélszív isn’t perfect. Between the metallic cuts that are a joy to the ears, you end up with two less-inspired songs that also sound out of place. “Sörivók” introduces some flashy shredding, but quickly morphs into an upbeat track that certainly has a hard rock-edge to it. It’s nothing disastrous and while I could see this working far better in a live setting, it’s just not outstanding stuff, you know? “Rock ‘n’ roll lány” falls into the power ballad territory and features Endre Paksi at his most vulnerable, while the acoustics convey a tranquil landscape of nostalgia. That said, the chorus sounds somewhat lackluster and if you’re going to write a power ballad, you better make it sound powerful! That’s not exactly the case here and alas, it’s another track that I could have done without.

Either way, Acélszív is a fantastic album… but what do you expect from a band that has named themselves after a Celtic hero? Ossian would release several more high-quality albums as time would go on, but this clearly remains their best work and it’s certainly recommended to any heavy metal fan out there.

Score: 88/100 – Hail to Hungary!

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About the author

I have been listening to metal since the age of... 14 or so. Besides music, I'm also interested in boxing, fitness, meeting new people and enjoy reading about a variety of topics.