2/10/2004 - Review by: Eric Compton
Let me immediately say that I know nothing about Attacker. In my vast pursuit of everything metal, I have somehow managed to neglect Attacker's so-called treasure "Battle At Helm's Deep". I have also managed to completely ignore its follow-up, "The Second Coming", with both having seen a glorious re-issue a few years back on Sentinel Steel.
With my apparent ignorance and total abandonment of all things Attacker, I started reading some information on an all new Attacker recording to be released in early 2004. After checking out the album cover with its homage to slasher mainstay and English legend Jack The Ripper, and hearing a few song samples, I knew that my Attacker hunt should start with "Soul Taker", the band's third album and first since 1988's "Second Coming".
Hence skipping the Attacker disc or two, I have in fact followed vocalist Bob Mitchell's career periodically, picking up the rare Sleepy Hollow debut along with the recent Vyndykator release as well, absorbing Mitchell's heroic falsetto metal-hood, while deeply admiring the man's extremely above-average aggressive pipes ala King Diamond crossed with Rob Halford, a vocal emphasis that combines Halford's aggressive free-flowing vocal melody with the high peaks that Diamond's over the top howling shrieks create.
So with that said, lets talk about Attacker's newest release, "Soul Taker", an album that has seen some serious exposure in the last few months from German label Iron Glory, Lapland Metal, Sentinel Steel, and one King Fowley. Is the exposure and promotion really necessary? Well considering this is probably going to wind up on my "Best Album Of 2004" ballot, I think so indeed!
This record offers one shellshock after another, from opening stormbringer "The End" to the chilling closer "Until We Meet Again", Attacker have created an album that can compete with any other so-called "album of the millenium". "Soul Taker" hits the highs and lows perfectly, with Bob Mitchell's vocals in full command here, taking charge of the helm in true no-guts, no-glory fashion, dominating the listener in every aspect here. This is simply the best stuff out there, and I mean that with all sincerity. Attacker are the real deal folks and nobody can prove to me right now they can create something this good.
One listen to smashers like "Raging Fist" and "The Conquerors" sets the pace perfectly, driving the listener to break-neck speed, convulsing with the gallop and velocity of heavy, pulverizing riffage courtesy of guitarists Pat Marinelli and Mike Benetados, who provide high-voltage overload while hammering home the fact that Attacker simply ain't misbehaving, instead proving they are out in full assault mode.
Again, Bob Mitchell displays one of the greatest vocal performances I have ever heard on record, fronting a band that maps out intricate harmony and melody in a full gallop version, thrashing and smashing whenever necessary, but keeping a mid-pace, catchy chorus when the time comes. Great breakdowns, soaring solos and precise drum patterns exist throughout, making "Soul Taker" an instant classic from the get-go.
Speed ragers like "Jack", with its dark and evil songwriting, just take complete authority, bringing back the days of old in classic tradition but allowing enough of a modern approach to the arrangement to keep it fresh and new. I adore "Forgotten", with the Maiden bass lines and melodic chorus to keep this one on repeat for days on end. Same can be said for "Tortured Existence", a hell-blazer that just keeps giving hours after the final note. That is the great thing about this album, it sticks with you well after the listen, making your days easier to live while providing a constant soundtrack in your head and in your speakers. To somewhat quote the famous metal publicist Martin Popoff, this record is my "catalyst for rising and carrying on each day."
Attacker display a passion and an all out love for this genre, the classic, traditional heavy metal from the 80s, redefined now in this modern age. Attacker bring a special gift to the metal listeners. Pure talent and mastery of an art that we all love. This band carries the torch for us all and I'm damn proud of them.
Easily one of the best albums I've heard in the past ten years.
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