Fancy a trip back in time? Well, as you’re here reading Sentinel Daily I’m sure you do, so come with me back to the mid eighties in the company of American neoclassicists Sartori!

Every year we get a few of these Strat-wielding madmen making a tilt at the Malmsteen crown, and every year we recoil in horror, shaking our heads at the tedious predictability of it all.

Until now.

The difference between Andy Sartori, the eponymous hero of the band, and the fast-fingered freaks following behind in the also-ran peloton, would appear to be, purely and simply, the ability to write actual heavy rock songs. As in, not simply structures on which to bolt flurries of pointless notes; but real, living, breathing songs that you’ll want to bang your head to within seconds of first hearing them!

Listening to Dragon’s Fire is, quite literally, like travelling back to the time between the young Yngwie leaving Alcatrazz (and how those recently-reborn lads would kill for a six stringer as agile as Andy Sartori in their ranks) and starting Rising Force; Songs like One Distant Heart and From Hell To Heaven peel back the layers in the back of the mind to just that time, with Sartori riffing away between the solos with stern-faced precision whilst vocalist Scott Board sets the hairs on the back of the neck all-a-tingle with his superior heavy metal vocalising. The latter, especially, with it’s staccato riffage and Sotoesque hollering, cooks up the most exciting noise that these ears have heard since the Fierce Heart reformation album, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that, whilst the neighbours were enjoying instrumental interlude Little Aria in G Major – which the lady wife says reminds here of the start of Love Song by Tesla, surely no bad thing in it’s own right – I was in the attic searching feverishly for my white stackheels, so inspired was I by the notes spiralling out of the speakers…

Joking aside, this is seriously good stuff. Earlier this year I berated another Malmsteen accolyte, Sammy Berell, for attempting nothing but imitation on his record despite clearly possessing the talent to make important music in his own right; Here, with the aid of a superb group of musicians (rounded out by drummer Dino Castano and bassist Rod Viquez), Andy Sartori does just that, with epic trad metal like Through The Eyes of My Soul proving that it is indeed possible to harness one’s influences for the good of all rather than mere self aggrandisement; This is genuinely good music, and I send my hearty congratulations to all involved for creating such an enjoyable record – even the Chastain-worshipping instrumental Castle of Lost Souls! hail, brothers in metal!

Dragon’s Fire releases on January 28th.