Greek heavy metal troupe Marauder have stumbled on a rather appealing formula on Bullethead; Ostensibly a traditional metal band with pronounced power metal tendencies, they’ve recruited a new vocalist, Nikos Antonoyiannakis who has a much more hard-rock orientated voice. Consequently, when the band is in full flight, on excellent tracks such as Son of Thunder or the epic Dark Legion, they sound like nothing so much as early-nineties era Manowar jamming with Y&T’s Dave Meniketti. This is an incredibly appealing proposition, I’m sure you’ll agree, and as a result Bullethead has very quickly become one of my favourite albums released thus far in 2016.
If Y&T is a bridge too far for your metallic sensibilities, maybe I could present the concept to you thusly: Imagine a world where Virgin Steele vocalist David DeFeis could still sing, as opposed to whispering hoarsely – that’s what a lot of the material sounds like here, sans pompous keyboard overkill, obviously.
Guitarists George Sofronas and Andreas Tsaousis are impressive throughout, keeping things simple, yet simultaneously catchy and crunchy in the riff department; Predators is prime Euro power metal, and features some marvellous contributions from both axe men, whilst in support drummer Gregory Vlachos follows the blueprint to the letter here – simple, yet effective drumming propels the track without ever over egging the metallic pudding.
And I guess that’s the key here – economy of effort, with every contribution from all members of the band (rounded out by bassist Thodoris Paralis, who sadly doesn’t get much of a look in in the mix) giving maximum enjoyment to the listener without ever becoming overbearing or tiresomely ‘look at me!’ in execution.
Occasionally Antonoyiannakis’ mid range roar sounds just a little limited for the ambitiousness of the material on show (The Fall, for example, might just benefit from somebody with tonsils of a more operatic capability), but overall the man’s lack of shrillness works in his favour; the Accept-like Echoes in the Dark, for instance wouldn’t sound nearly so effective without Nikos’ more earthy vocal style.
Bullethead is one of those rare things nowadays, a hearty, unpretentious metal record that pushes no agenda, attaches itself to no bandwagon and just rocks like a bastard for the pure hell of it. It’s an absolute must-hear in my opinion.
Bullethead is released on May 6th on Pitch Black Records