Portland-based noiseniks Splintered Throne made all the right noises with their last album, 2019’s Live At Billy Blues; A sort of live ‘best-of’, comprising the peak tracks from their first two albums, it pointed to a band with a strong grasp of NWoBHM and US Power metal dynamics, led from the front by a vocalist, Brian Garrison, who appeared to be really rather good.

Fast forward three years and the band are back with a new studio album, sans Garrison unfortunately, but in every other respect just as good as they were when last we heard from them.

The guys are now augmented by a girl, Lisa Mann, who brings a different vocal perspective to the band for sure but who certainly loses nothing in comparison to Garrison, if you excuse my rather neat little rhyme. She handles all the material equally well here, whether it be perky radio-rock influenced metal like the title track or heavier fayre such as riproaring second track The Crossing. At her best, on the Maidenesque stomp of Let It Rain she gives a bona fide top drawer performance, drawing on her stentorian roar to great effect.

The band certainly recognise a belting melody when they see one, and guitarists Matt Dorado and J-Mo certainly aren’t afraid to utilise them in their searing lead work. Bassist Brian Bailey is pleasantly visible in the mix too, something that can’t often be said in ‘own label’ productions, and his work with drummer Kris Holboke sets everything up nicely.

Splintered Throne aren’t breaking any new ground here – in fact ponderous ballad Underdogs, the only weak point on the album, is positively antediluvian – but they do what they do with such skill and commitment that you can’t help but be taken in by it all. If you’re not cannoning off your living room furniture during the superb Saxonisms of Night of the Heathens there’s a fair chance your relationship with heavy metal is going to be a fruitless one; for everyone else this is  welcome chance to remember just why you got into ‘our kind of music’ in the first place as you revel in some pure, unalloyed heavy metal thunder…

The Greater Good of Man releases on August 19th.