Released by: Metal Blade Records
Release date: 2 October 2015
Genre: Heavy Metal
Michael Denner – Guitars
Hank Shermann – Guitars
Sean Peck – Vocals
Snowy Shaw – Drums
Marc Grabowski – Bass
01. Satan’s Tomb
02. War Witch
03. New Gods
04. Seven Skulls
When I was presented with this EP to review, I got a sense of excitement after reminiscing about the quality of work these two guitarists have covered in their career. Fans will remember them as the original guitarists of Mercyful Fate’s legendary “Melissa” and “Don’t Break The Oath” albums. Two albums that have gone on to inspire so many generations of guitarists whom are trying to keep the scene alive. In this forthcoming EP, due for release through Metal Blade Records, Michael Denner and Hank Shermann relive those classic eras that will surely recapture the magic for the Mercyful Fate worldwide legions of fans once again.
As the first riff of Satan’s Tomb is played, it instantly sounds like it was uncovered in a studio from the 80’s. The black flame burns again! Denner and Shermann perform a technical galloping thrash anthem. “Terrorise, the lord of lies, turn your eyes, Satan’s come back to life”. Towards the middle, the key changes and all hell breaks loose. Cutting tempo riffage with fast paced neoclassical solos from Denner and Shermann. I would also like to commend Snowy Shaw (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Dream Evil) for the tight drumming on this track, and the powerful changing double bass technique throughout.
The second track War Witch is full on shredding from the start and a personal favourite from the EP. It takes everything up a level in terms of technical ability on a whole. These guitarists are clearly virtuoso performers with unearthly capabilities that could only be granted by the dark lord himself. Sean Peck (Cage and Death Dealer) has notable versatile vocal skills on this track that make the music come to life.
New Gods showcases Marc Grabowski’s (Demonica) bass performance skills with a groove metal influenced build up in the beginning. The song then breaks into a very 80’s sounding riff that keeps in the distinct style of the other tracks. The EP has an overall authentic feeling of nothing changing between these musicians and as previously mentioned it sounds exactly like lost tracks uncovered. “The New Gods have come!”
On the final track, Seven Skulls, there are some great tones that have been recorded. It has that nice thrash feeling that is lacking in a lot of modern metal bands. And you can tell that these guys are the originals of this genre. The guitar tone has a vintage vibe but, as it has been recorded in the present day, it’s more aggressive and clearer. The production is superb and there’s plenty of breathing room. Seven Skulls is more of an experimental track that progresses between slow doom styled chords to riveting chugging riffs. I thought that Sean Pecks vocals paid homage to King Diamond, by the way he converses with himself and hits these amazing high shrieks in his vocal range. He fits perfect to the music.
Overall, I was really impressed by this short EP. Both the the song-writing and the production are of a high quality and style. If it’s anything to go by, then the full album will be a strong record with this line-up.
Written by: David Bell
Ratings: David 8/10