“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.

Thus spake my old careers master, Mr. Kevin Meaker, many, many moons ago. And I was reminded of that sage advice only this week whilst listening to the new album from Dutch rockers Black Nazareth

Y’see the album – actually a compilation of already-released singles – kicks off with the drama-laden The Rallying Cry, a song whose clever interplay of synths and guitars leads to memories of Black Sabbath circa the Headless Cross years to flit across the mind. It’s a promising start, and certainly piques the interest of the listener. Especially if the listener is me, a man who considers Headless Cross to be the best Black Sabbath Album…

However, as the record develops, those hopes are dashed as the band reveal themselves to actually be more of a modern rock/grunge/alt. hybrid. Ride sounds like the Foo Fighters at their most energetic, whilst the darker, glitchier Cold as Stone, with it’s simple riffage and insistant rhythms, would appear to be squarely aimed at American rock radio.

None of this is unpleasant; vocalist Daniël de Jongh has a versatile voice which at it’s default setting is slightly reminiscent of Therapy? throat Andy Cairns, and that alt.metal direction would appear to suit the band most moving forwards. Menno Gottjes, whilst clearly a capable lead guitarist, tailors his playing to the requirement of whatever song he happens to be playing, in the process forming a slick partnership with keyboard player/programmer Martijn Spierenburg. The two come together best on the excellent Drops of Sorrow, which isn’t a million miles away in intent and delivery from Paradise Lost‘s ‘synthpop’ period.

As an early-career exhibition this album clearly works perfectly, showing all facets of the band off in their best light; it lacks a little cohesion, of course, as the band skitter across the musical landscape somewhat feverishly – Thrive, for instance starts off like something from Judas Priest‘s Turbo before turning into a grungy metallic anthem – but there are enough moments of class here to make this worth dipping into from time to time.

Black Nazareth releases on July 8th.