Poor old James Durbin, doomed forever to be shunned by the vast rump of Anglospheric ‘true’ metal fans because of his association with the ‘Idol’ brand. Of course, the joke is on them, as they’ll never allow themselves to wallow in the melodic metal glory of tracks like Where They Stand, which sounds like a goosebump-inducing fusion of Riot (Thundersteel era, natch) and Crimson Glory in their debut album pomp. It’s truly remarkable stuff that’ll have you re-affirming your vows to metal as soon as you hear it, I promise you.

I’ve criticised Durbin – or at least elements of his voice – in the past myself, but here, on his latest album for the Frontiers stable, he finally seems to have hit the sweet spot. Screaming Steel is quite possibly the best thing he has put his name to, a storming slice of trad metal fit to give anything on the last KK’s Priest album a run for it’s money and, probably, if I’m any judge, the upcoming Judas Priest effort, too…

Backed by Frontiers house guitarist/somgwriter/producer Aldo Lonobile (but not, this time, by so many guest appearances from trad metal stars popping in to lend a hand), the sound of the album is perfectly pitched at listeners for whom Holy Diver, Defenders of the Faith and Powerslave form the Holy Trinity of metal perfection; Having said that, Screaming Steel, terrible cover aside, never feels dated or in any way cut-price. This truly would appear to be the real deal.

Hallows is another high- damn, why am I bothering listing this track-by-track? Every song is a winner, especially if you seek no more than well played, faithfully executed and superbly sung HEAVY METAL THUNDER. Durbin seeks nothing from you other than the acknowledgement of his sincerity and commitment to the cause, and, on the strength of this banger of an album, I think that’s the very least we can all give him. Horns up!

Screaming Steel releases on February 16th.