Once again here we are: A band with a deep discography shows up and I wind up kicking myself for not having heard them sooner. This is very much the case with German heavy metal act MYSTIC PROPHECY and their ninth album War Brigade, out May 6 on Massacre Records. At first listen I liked them, and with each passing one I liked them even more. A twin guitar attack, double bass-driven drum salvos, thumping bottom end, and a ballsy singer with power and range certainly had my attention. There are shades of ACCEPT, JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, and even a tinge of DIO, but all while the band keeps its own identity and doesn’t rip anything off.
On songs like “Metal Brigade”, “Good Day to Die”, and opener “Follow the Blind” vocalist R.D. Liapakis is in full command, and his army of four comes ready to do battle. Guitarists Markus Pohl and Laki Ragazas weave in and out of their solos with ease and remain fully committed to the riff barrage, while drummer Tristan Maiwurm and bassist Joey Roxx cover the groove perimeter. “The Crucifix” is where I felt the MAIDEN presence, and not surprisingly it’s one of my favorites. I’ve really become a fan of Liapakis’ voice and on this track he’s outstanding.The band opts to downshift somewhat for “10,000 Miles Away” and while it’s slower it’s still heavy and features one of the disc’s best guitar solos.
“The Devil Is Back” is a fun one for a couple of reasons. Not only does it have a great rhythm and feel, but I enjoy singing the chorus at one of my co-workers every time he insists on coming at me with his overly-Christian songs in the break room. One of us usually runs out of there in horror (HINT: it ain’t me). That digga-digga double bass I love so much is there again on “War Panzer” along with a slicing riff throughout. Here we also have another great solo, too. “Fight For One Nation” is borderline thrash metal heavy and should have all heads a-banging while the group’s technical prowess and big ol’ balls very much shine through on “War of Lies”.
I really had no idea what to do with “Sex Bomb” upon first listen. I couldn’t believe MYSTIC PROPHECY was covering a TOM JONES song. And even though it sounds somewhat out of place on the album, this one wormed its way into my brain and before I knew what happened I was humming it while working at my desk…BASTARDS!! All told War Brigade is a very good release chock full of Grade-A Heavy Metal. I’m in total shock I never heard these guys before and I plan on delving into their back catalog ASAP. This record is tailor-made for the old-school guys like me, but there is also a lot that the young bucks can get behind. Pick this one up when it comes out and crank it loud to piss off the neighbors!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “10,000 Miles Away”, “The Crucifix”, “Good Day to Die”, “Metal Brigade”, “War Panzer”, “War of Lies”