Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Album Review: "The Underdog" by Four Star Revival

The Underdog
In the years before satellite radio a great metal song finding its way on to the radio was a rarity.

 If the lords of radio did bless us with a good tune, you cranked it loud and certainly did not turn the radio off until it was over, even if you had already reached your destination.

 If the local rock station was actually playing an Iron Maiden song, it was sacrilege to terminate the song before its conclusion. With the advent of satellite radio, there is never a moment where an awesome metal tune cannot be found on the airwaves.

 Still, as a psychological remnant of days gone past, I still find it difficult to change the station when certain bands are on. This is the situation I found myself in on the way to work last week, while Liquid Metal was playing Metallica's "Sad But True".

Four Star Revival
I was excited to check out the new release from Four Star Revival, and knew I should get started on listening to it if I was going to have any chance at making deadline on the review.

 But was it wise to turn off Metallica? Would the metal gods smite me where I sat for such a blasphemy?

 Damning the torpedoes, I boldly switched off the radio and fired up Four Star Revival.

 And much to my amazement, I instantly realized I had upgraded to an even better song. Wow! The power and thunder of the opening track "The Underdog" harkened back to the glory days of classic metal. The riffs are epic, the vocals searing, the production crisp.

 Although, the title track is my favorite, there is really no let up from there. Follow-up songs "Liar" and "Rumors of War" are crushing monsters, which to me sound somewhat like a modern version of classic English rockers UFO.

 "Broken" is a heavy power ballad, closer to something you might hear in the 70s than how the eighties would define the term, which really showcases the strong vocals of Jack Emrick.

 The EP closes out with a rambunctious tour de force titled "The Garden of Good and Evil". The track sounds like a glorious cross between German legends Helloween and Accept. This an era and style of metal which is criminally underserved.

 So often as metal has evolved, its past, while always revered and respected, is rarely duplicated. The EP would not be out of place if released in 1986, and might be considered a classic of the genre if it had.

 At one point I thought I was surely hearing Zakk Wylde playing guitar for Judas Priest. The only fault I can find with this EP, is it not being a full length album.

 At least I was glad to learn this EP is not the band's debut, and there is a back catalogue to seek. Maybe it is my nostalgia talking, but the metal world needs more tunes in the classic 80s style, and Four Star Revival seem just the band to do it.

 Although Four Star Revival will never approach the legendary status of Metallica, I surely did not regret the commute time switch to this new sound of such historic pedigree.

Genre: Classic Metal
Label: Headstone Records
Release Date: January 13, 2017

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