This is really one of the elite albums of the NWOBHM, and one of the most underrated metal albums around. Disregarding the rather weak production for a second, the music on here is easily the equal to what Iron Maiden, Diamond Head
, Pagan Altar
, and Saxon
put out at their best.
The guitar work, first off, is some of the most inspired to arise from that movement. There’s quite a bit of trad. Metal
riffing in Satan
’s sound, but there are also a lot of proto-power metal styled riffs that would become the staple of the german metal scene later on in the 80’s, and there’s even a few thrash riffs here and there! That
intro riff to “Blades of Steel”, or that of “Broken Treaties”, for a couple examples. Secondly, the soloing is frankly amazing on here – not only are there a lot of solos, but there’s also a ton of lead harmonies that often work as counterpoints to the riffs, even under the verses at times. But it’s not just the number of solos, it’s the fact that every lead break is filled with a slew of creative, interesting melodic ideas. These guys were just about as good as Maiden’s guitar pair at the time, which is something you really couldn’t say for anybody else in the NWOBHM.
Another advantage that Satan
had over many of their contemporaries is that they had a damn fine vocalist in Brian Ross, someone who possessed considerable range, being able to go from that typical NWOBHM bellow to an all out falsetto shriek and back again. You really couldn’t ask for a better vocalist for the style of music on here. The rhythm section is certainly capable, not the flashiest players around, but they keep the arrangement pretty well centered at all times.
Song-wise, this is basically a consistent effort from start to finish – the intro is a bit weak, but every other song on here is frankly excellent, filled with those quality riffs and leads, but are filled with enough different hooks and ideas to really differentiate from each other; be it the frantic, snappy pace of “Trial
”, the looser, more rocking approach to “No Turning Back
”, the mid-paced march of “Broken Treaties” - befitting of its lyrical themes to a Tee – or the gloomy, dismal pace to the long closer “Alone in the Dock”. Every song on here has its own distinct identity and its own set of creative ideas that are clearly differentiable from one another.
The production is, however, a pretty big flaw – it’s overly reverbed and comes across as somewhat muffled. Further adding to that is that there’s often a bit of tape hiss. It doesn’t really render the album unlistenable or anything, but it is rather unfitting of an album of this kind.
But weak production aside, this is an excellent album, and as I said at the beginning, one of the truly elite records of the NWOBHM. Thus, this comes highly recommended.