Album Review: Skull Fist “Chasing the Dream”

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SKULL FIST – CHASING THE DREAM

RELEASED: JANUARY 14th, 2014

It was a couple of summers ago that I first heard of Toronto metal band Skull Fist. I think it was when I first saw fellow Toronto hard-rockers Diemonds perform, and a few of the band members and fans in the crowd were wearing Skull Fist shirts/patches etc. I wondered “who are these guys?” But unfortunately that curiosity just kind of got lost, that is until recently when I came across their most recent album Chasing The Dream. Man, am I ever sorry that I forgot to check them out sooner. Better late than never though, right?

What Skull Fist provide in their music is just straight up heavy metal, of the classic variety. I recently saw (on their Wikipedia page) a clever name for this sub-genre, New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal. This is clever. It’s obviously a play on words on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement in the early 80’s. It hasn’t gone unnoticed that there is an abundance of “traditional” sounding heavy metal bands as of late. Holy Grail is another one that comes to mind that holds similar influences in their sound from bands like Judas Priest or Diamond Head.

Skull Fist are a little different from Holy Grail though. Where Holy Grail, and other modern metal bands, have shred crazy guitar work with notes being played faster than you can even hear them, Skull Fist’s Johnny Nesta, while a very capable quick shredder, takes the smarter more melodic approach in his guitar playing, further making the album, and band, more special.

Lead singer, and the bands only consistent member Jackie Slaughter has quite a set of pipes. Right from the albums opener, the speedy, hard-as-nails Hour To Live and throughout the album, Jackie’s too-good-to-be-new voice leads the entire album by example. It’s not the most original sounding voice, in fact many points of the album, including said opening track, remind me a lot of “traditional” metal band Riot during their speed metal phase (If you haven’t heard Riot’s Thundersteel album, why the hell not?)

While I’d classify the album as a speed metal album, it does have its strong slower, yet still rather fast paced, tracks; such as Bad For Good, the album’s title track Chasing The Dream and Call of the Wild, to name a few, all have some of the most full sounding, ear filling metal. I can’t explain it, but these songs just make me feel good, like I’m a kid again imagining these songs being played in a huge arena to thousands of screaming fans.

The album does have its nice and fast moments, too. Just like the opening track, Sign of the Warrior, You’re Gonna Pay, and the riff chugging Don’t Stop the Fight all not only come one after the other on the album, each giving equally as hard of a punch in the face, but they just don’t seem to let up. The guitar playing of both Jackie and Johnny never slows down, and I don’t know how drummer Chris Steve still has arms and legs after playing all of these tracks. Then again, there are a LOT of metal drummers out there that dazzle me the way Chris does on this album.

Shred’s Not Dead is a heck of a good instrumental featured on the album, mostly just showing off the shredding of Johnny Nesta. This comes before the albums closing track Mean Street Rider. I’ve many times preached on how a closing track makes or breaks an album, which is why I usually give it a featured paragraph, or at least I try to. In this case, Skull Fist hit the nail right on the head as far as great closing tracks go. The heavy metal doesn’t let up; it’s not the fastest song on the album, but it still maintains that unarguable speed metal sound. While it’s not my favourite song on the album, I feel the band may have saved the albums best song for last, leaving listeners wanting more.

In this rare case, even though the music isn’t the most original, even Jackie’s singing sounds just like so many of those bands from the 80’s, these actually create an asset. If this album were released in 1987, it may not have fared anything more than a cult following, but it was released now, when other comparable metal bands from the past have been somewhat forgotten, and if they haven’t been forgotten then they’ve been sorely missed. Chasing The Dream is almost everything I’d hope for in most to all modern metal bands and it has set the bar high for other albums that will be released this year.

ALBUM HIGHLIGHT

Bad For Good” –­ It’s not the fastest song on the album, in fact it’s probably the slowest, and I’m not sure there is a heaviest song on the album, but Bad For Good is the definite highlight of the album. It displays the bands melodies and talent and the main bare essentials that makes this album as special as it is. This is what I believe to be the first song that everyone should listen to from the album. The chorus of the song is without a doubt the best chorus of the album and it has one of many terrific guitar solos heard on the album.

 

FINAL RATING

9 (Out of 10)

 

Track List:

1.

“Hour   to Live”

4:18

2.

“Bad   For Good”

4:26

3.

“Chasing   the Dream”

3:19

4.

“Call   of the Wild”

4:29

5.

“Sign   of the Warrior”

4:57

6.

“You’re   Gonna Pay”

3:59

7.

“Don’t   Stop The Fight”

3:16

8.

“Shred’s   Not Dead”

2:54

9.

“Mean   Street Rider”

5:02

 

Phil Lisotti of Rock Review Phil

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