Over the course of the past decade or so, the Pure Steel family of record labels has established itself as a stronghold of the classic-meets-New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal sound, whether it be via its own multiple imprints or equally numerous distribution deals. It has a reputation for picking up and releasing albums – and, in many cases, re-issuing long lost gems – which exemplify and amplify metal at its most basic and unpretentious levels.
This latest album by Italy’s Axevyper is another prime example of the German conglomerate’s approach and overall business ethos (although it is released via one of the above mentioned distros, which is how PM came across our advance copy). The band’s fourth full length release in their seven year long career to date, ‘Into The Serpent’s Lair’ ploughs a furrow somewhere between early NWOBHM, especially in the Maiden-esque galloping bass lines and layered atmospherics (such as on opener ‘Brothers Of The Black Sword’ and the equally epic ‘The Adventurer’) and White Spirit-ed double guitar harmonies, pubescent thrash and the nascent Euro power metal sound.
In doing so, it is an extremely competent album, making great use of closeknit harmonies and melodies, while also concentrating on laying down some good hard ‘n’ heavy headbanging-inducing beats and air-guitar frenzy solos. At the same time, as hinted above, it also contains plenty of shading, with a not inconsiderable attention paid to some of the details contained within the eight tracks. It does have inconsistencies, most often especially in Luca Cicero’s sometimes weak and unconvincing vocal delivery, and its rapid switching of styles mid-song. But, overall, the result is a solid, if not unsurprising or highly original, offering by a band whom it suggests would draw more than a few punters away from the bar if they were playing down my local metal club of a Saturday eventide…
Brothers of the Black Sword / Metal Tyrant / Soldiers of the Underground / The Adventurer / Under The Pyramids / Spirit Of The Wild / Solar Warrior / Beyond The Gates Of The Silver Key
Recommended listening: Under The Pyramids
‘Into The Serpent’s Den’ is released on Friday (26 February) via Iron Shield Records.