Only six months ago we were talking about Polish trad metallers Scream Maker, who had just seen Frontiers Music reissue their last album BloodKing, and now they are back with another all-new full-length in the shape of Land of Fire – that’s some work ethic!

In my review of that album I remarked that the band had all their trad metal ducks in a row, and now may be the time to follow their noses along a more melodic path in order to fully realise their commercial potential.

I’m pleased to report that they’ve followed my advice – everyone should, after all – and Land Of Fire finds the band in tip-top melodic form on superb cuts like Dark Side of Mine or  Everybody Needs Illusions. It’s still metal – the mid section of the latter is pure Somewhere In Time-era Maiden – but it’s metal with a smile on it’s lips and a tune in it’s heart – Michał Wrona wrenches some licks out of his axe towards the end of the song that Matthias Jabs would give his eye teeth to come up with in 2023…

They haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater however – there’s plenty to bang your head to here, never fear – it’s just that everything has been honed to a steely, World Class finish throughout where maybe a little naivety remained last time out; Zombies, for instance, packs a more progressive punch but still possesses an earworm refrain, and absolutely everywhere you look there’s some absolutely mind-bending guitar work from Wrona, who bestrides this release like the proverbial colossus with his playing.

Scream Maker are a band that instinctively know what makes metal memorable; so, whilst they aren’t afraid to throw in it’s more recognisable tropes whenever required, the deployment of same is never overdone, used sparingly and usually for emphasis. Drummer Tomasz Sobieszek could probably double kick for Poland at the next Olympics, but he knows when to use those drums to achieve maximum impact, something many skinbeaters currently plying their trade could learn from. When he does utilize them, mixing them in with a more McBrainish technique on the stridently appealing A Nail in the Head, they sound Titanic rather than monotonous.

Great stuff, then, and clearly Scream Maker are a band on the up. The metal world would appear to be their oyster on the evidence of this album, and I can’t wait to see what they do next. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves – for now let’s just enjoy the metal majesty of Land of Fire!

Land of Fire releases on July 14th.