Hanover’s greatest gift to the World of heavy metal, Herman Frank, is back, after a couple of years rest, with his fifth solo album, Two For A Lie. And, whilst it will hold no surprises at all for detractors and the merely disinterested, for the man’s legions of acolytes there is once more a wealth of metal to enjoy on this latest outing.
Vocalist Rick Altzi is back in the saddle with Frank again, and his presence gives a nice uniformity with the last three Frank solo outings – it gives the real feel of a ‘proper band’. Of course, that wouldn’t matter if he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket – but time and again on this record his self-assured contributions lift material that might be considered slightly ordinary to the next level. Eye of the Storm in particular benefits from his superior tonsil technique, whilst the Kill The King-styled rocker Stand Up And Fight also gets a big Altzi-shaped leg up from his bravura performance.
He gives a melodic metal vocalisation masterclass on the quite excellent Liar, which gives full vent to Frank’s classic rock pretensions – think Zeppelin meets Dio-era Rainbow and you’re in the right area – but he’s never less than excellent whenever he opens his mouth.
Of course, this is the Herman Frank show at the end of the day, and whatever Altzi does is always in the service of the songs written by the German riff Titan. And, in that context, Frank turns in some of his best ever work here amongst the more prosaic, heads-down riff madness. He’s ably supported by new recruit Michael Pesin (also part of German hard rockers Victory alongside Frank), who acts as a willing foil throughout; the lead and rhythm work meshes together quite superbly on standout track Hail The New Kings, but, like Altzi, Pesin operates at high levels of excellence whatever is asked of him. Kevin Kott (drums, and a chum of Altzi’s from Masterplan) and bassist Michael Müller are similarly dependable in the engine room.
The stomp-heavy Danger is more Accept-like than anything on the recent Accept album – no complaints from me on that score – being the sort of straight-up, melodic headbanger the band specialised in around the time of Balls To The Wall. But that’s really the only overt tip o’the hat to Frank’s past to be found here, with the guitarist concentrating very much on the here and now. And the here and now is very metal indeed!
Two For a Lie releases on May 21st.