According to their Facebook page, Existance singer Julian Izard formed the band because he ‘wants to keep the spirit of eighties metal alive’.
I wasn’t aware it was in danger of expiring but, my God, if it was then Breaking the Rock is EXACTLY the sort of album to breath life into the still-warm corpse. From the dramatic opening drum stabs of opening track Heavy Metal Fury through to the dying chords of the album’s title track which closes proceedings, there isn’t one moment that cannot be classified as sheer, unadulterated, glorious heavy metal. And then some.
Honest is the sort of chantalong metal Canadians Striker might have thought they’d cornered the market in – until now they had – whilst third track We Are Restless is a spacey, galloping romp that gives plenty of air for Izard to display his impressive pipes to their best advantage. Existance know all about drama and dynamics, that’s for sure and they pull all their tricks out of the bag to make this track a bit of a highlight.
Striker aren’t actually too bad a comparison here if you’re looking for shortcuts to get to the nub of the Existance sound. The guitars of Izard and six string partner Antoine Poiret are crunchy yet tuneful, and their beautifully fluid soloing lifts every song on the album. Although the obvious starting point here is the NWoBHM, there’s a definite power metal twist to proceedings – To Maiden and Priest, add some Primal Fear to the mix and you’ll have a good idea of the sort of excitement levels Existance are able to create and maintain throughout.
All is On Fire is a bit straightforward if we’re being honest – it’s probably a fave to play live – but that is honestly the only real blip on Breaking the Rock. Deserve your Love is much better, romping along before hitting a great chorus that would have rocked the radio in 1986 and features some more stellar lead work and a tremendous vocal from that man Izard.
Next up is Sinner of Love, a slow burning, slinky rocker based around the rock solid rhythm work of four stringer Julien Robilliard and his partner in crime, drummer Nicolas Martineau, who provide the rock solid framework that allows the other two to show off (again). It’s pure Dokken, but who’s gonna complain about that?
Sensibly the band heavy things up again with next track Marilyn (Icon of Desire). Clearly a paean to the doomed Monroe, it’s dramatic riffage and urgent vocals really set the pulse twitching – I really can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so involved in an album just sitting in my armchair listening – whilst the utterly superb solo will have you up and out of your seat, fingers twitching uncontrollably, of that I have no doubt.
In the Name of Revenge features some exemplary work by bassist Robilliard and – I know, I know – more superb soloing. Apologies for the repetition but that’s how it is with Breaking the Rock. Every song is a smorgasbord for fans of great singing and playing.
Pain in Paradise is the sort of track bands like Racer X and Leatherwolf used to belt out in the late eighties – you’ll obviously love it – all staccato riffs and melodies to die for both in the verses and the choruses, and final track Breaking the Rock almost acts as a companion piece, sharing the same dynamic and attitude whilst still being Very much its own song.
My colleague here at Sentinel Daily, Ferry Templeton is often telling me how good this new wave of French heavy metal is, and on this evidence I’d have to agree with him. Allez le NWoFHM!