WARNING: If you came to the world of heavy metal after 1984 there is a fair chance you’ll find everything locked within the grooves of With Whips and Chains either laughable or just plain nonplussing. Or possibly both. So I won’t be offended if you stop reading now.
Anybody left? Good. Because those of you still reading are in for a bit of a treat with this rocking and rolling trip back through the ages to a time when men were men and women were all leather-clad dominatrices hell bent on taking over the world through a debilitating mix of Satanic aid and low sexual cunning; WWaC is an eerily accurate resummation of the works of the likes of Brocas Helm, Cirith Ungol and Bitch, right down to vocalist Stacey Peak’s gravel throated roar of a voice and the tinny yet strangely-beguiling production job that is oh-so-authentic yet sets the basic nature of the riffs off to a nice tee.
Peak isn’t a complete dead ringer for Bitch’s Betsy Weiss, though she channels the same demons very well – certainly well enough for the purposes of Savage Master – but it’s the catchy nature of the songs that make this album such a winner. Standout cut Vengeance is Steel wouldn’t have been out of place on an early-eighties Manowar album, whilst Black Hooves is almost as good and features a stinging solo from either Larry Myers or Adam Neal – the accompanying blurb that came with the download doesn’t specify whom. Album closer Ready to Sin is an absolute hoot, featuring gonzo backing vocals from the lads and another characterful vocal from Ms Peak, but honestly there really isn’t a dull moment on the album whichever track you happen to be listening to.
With Whips and Chains isn’t going to take the world by storm – it probably won’t even create many waves in the wider world of heavy metal, mores the pity – but as a piece of finely crafted niche entertainment I’m confident you won’t hear better all year.
With Whips and Chains is out now.