For a fleeting while in the mid to late eighties, German metal outfit Zed Yago brought something quite special, quite different to the rapidly-congealing metal scene.
Led by vocal powerhaus Jutta Weinhold and her quasi-comedic sidekick, Bubi the Schmeid, their rollicking, Wagnerian take on the genre was, if not particularly a breath of fresh air, then certainly an unsettling gust up the underclothes of the complacent.
So it’s nice to hear her stentorian roar back in action again with the band she used as a replacement for Zed Yago, Velvet Viper. Respice Finem (it’s Latin, don’t look so nonplussed), ably produced by Helloween/GammaRay/Unisonic alumnus Kai Hansen is a hugely enjoyable romp through the hinterlands of Teutonic metal, with all the pomp and bombast those two words indicate present and correct.
Ogaydez (geddit?!) is a brooding epic, whilst Dangerous is a thundering anthem that will take some beating live, but these two tracks are merely the tip of the iceberg.
For the real meat of the album you need look no further than tracks two and three, both of which are latter day classics in the making.
First up is Shadow Ryche, a dramatic, superbly constructed piece of metal ambition that hits all the right buttons immediately and will have you pressing repeat to hear it all again almost in spite of yourself. This is followed by the shuddering title track, a superbly realised piece of theatrical metal (in that it’s dramatic, not that it needs silly tricks or props to get the message across) with an ear worm refrain and some great instrumental passages.
The key to all this, the hook on which the whole thing hangs, is the superb vocal performance of Weinhold. Hansen’s production, if any criticism is to be levelled anywhere on this record, is a bit dry in places. But, paradoxically this merely serves to present the Weinhold lungs in unvarnished, naked glory – and very glorious they are too. Age does not seem to have wearied this remarkable woman, whose performance here is as elastic and alluring as it originally was all those years ago… And we should all be joyful about this.
Younger fans of metal who may not be familiar with the old Zed Yago might find comparison with modern names like Avatarium, especially on epic, Rainbowesque numbers like Stormy Birth or the brooding Raven Evermore, but whatever age you are, and however familiar you are or not with the divine Ms W, I think you’re going to have a hell of a lot of fun with Respice Finem. Give it a whirl!
Respice Finem will be released by GMR Music on June 16th.