Kazakhstan’s ultimate metal band is back! After a two year hiatus Holy Dragons return with their fifteenth album, and I must say they are in very good shape. Their previous album, Dragon Inferno, got a little bit of stereo time when it emerged in 2014 but there was something about it that just didn’t click.
This time around, however, there’s a lot of clicking going on as songs like the excellent title track (which, as its title might denote, is an exciting romp across Judas Priest territory) and the folkish metal of Secret Friend pull out all the stops to prove that Almaty isn’t the metal desert many might have had it marked down for.
In their press release the band states ‘This is pure classic old school heavy metal with the influence of the British and German schools of metal being clearly evident’, and really, there’s no better way of describing Civilizator. Vocalist Alexander “Demoraivola” Kuligin has all the right helium-fuelled moves to hold his own with more illustrious western counterparts, whilst guitarists Jurgen Thunderson and Chris “Thorheim” Caine both clearly know the Smith, Murray, Tipton and Downing songbooks from back to front. But perhaps the best performance comes from bassist Ivan Manchenko; Not content to merely mesh down with drummer Antonio “Deimos” Repablo and provide the usual base for the guitarists to show off from, he roves all over the songs in the finest tradition of Steve Harris; It’s a bravura performance and one that adds real interest to the songs.
Attempted epic No Oil-No War takes a reasonable idea and just overstretches it a bit, but that really is the only downside this album possesses. And whilst songs like Hawker Hurricane might wear their influences a tad too brashly on their sleeves there’s no denying that when it comes to the crunch Holy Dragons are a pretty good outfit and deserve a little bit of your time and attention if you love simple, old school metal executed with passion and sincerity.