It’s long been held as a stone cold FACT around Sentinel Daily HQ that the guitar partnership to be found in the ranks of venerable NWoBHM throwbacks SatanRuss Tippins and Steve Ramsey – bow only to Downing and Tipton and Smith and Murray as Britain’s finest ever heavy metal guitar partnership, and time and again on the band’s new album, Earth Infernal that point is rammed home (or down, possibly). Each and every track is absolutely rammed to the gunwhales with spectacular six string sorcery, reminding you just what a potent pairing these guys have become over a now over forty year period in harness together.

That said, the songwriting on this new album doesn’t feel quite so sharp as it did on last album Cruel Magic; whilst the performances here are uniformly top-notch – amazingly, Brian Ross seems to still be improving as a vocalist and he especially gets man-of-the-match plaudits for that – this album just doesn’t leave you with as many ‘stick in the head’ gifts as did it’s predecessor.

Still, that’s a minor complaint when you remember that Satan operate at a level of excellence that most other bands can only dream of, and scorching metal wigouts like Luciferic and The Blood Ran Deep are certainly already assured of their place in the pantheon of Satan’s great moments of metal. But elsewhere, there’s just a little to much that leans to the merely great as oppossed to the actively brilliant.

At times, especially the breakneck semi-mundanity that is A Sorrow Unspent – this means that Satan end up resembling Ross’ other band, Blitzkrieg, which does deaden the impact of the album as a whole. Earth Infernal‘s production is a little ‘toppier’ than you’d like, too – on Luciferic Graeme English plays some superb bass, but it gets a little lost in the overall sound which is a shame.

Still, as noted already, this is small bier within the context of the fact that there’s a new Satan album out now! have a listen and see what you think…

Earth Infernal is out now.