My first exposure to MOB RULES came with 2014’s Timekeeper. That one really didn’t resonate with me, and 2016’s Tales From Beyond, well…look, it’s one thing to be influenced by a band, in this case IRON MAIDEN. It’s another thing entirely to craft a record that is straight up kneeling at said band’s altar from start to finish. That was a major turnoff. I was starting to think I’d never dig these guys, but then a funny thing happened. They decided to put out a new album with Beast Reborn (out now, Steamhammer/SPV Records) and ditch the MAIDEN-isms. Well, maybe 75-80% of them. Still, this is one that really surprised me, albeit pleasantly so.
Another thing that’s great about MOB RULES and their particular brand of Power Metal is that they are not singing about swords and dragons the way far too many of their contemporaries do. There’s such a thing as too much of that crap, and a band oughta be fuckin’ aware of it. After a brief intro (oy, with the intros, already!) the disc kicks off with “Ghost of a Chance” a fast, guitar driven number that takes off at a gallop. Vocalist Klaus Dirks sounds terrific over the dual axe attack of Sönke Janssen and Sven Lüdke and after about 30 seconds I could tell we were in for a good one.
Other cuts that leapt out at me right away include “Traveler In Time”, another fast-paced one that half-times it on the hooks, along with the eight-minute epic “War of Currents”. Now here we have a little bit of the aforementioned MAIDEN influence, with an early bass section that sounds like something Steve Harris came up with on his day off. That’s not really a knock though, because the song is very, very good, and one of my favorites on the whole thing. “Children’s Crusade” has one of the bigger hooks on the disc and was definitely another winner for me.
I keep coming back to it, but this band really knows how to deliver piledriving riffs on this particular album. This is evident on almost all the tracks, but especially on “The Explorer,” arguably my favorite cut, and “Shores Ahead”. We head into more mid-tempo waters with “Way Back Home” before closing things out with piano ballad “My Sobriety Mind (For Those Who Left”). This is a deep, dark song and quite a change of pace from what we’ve just immersed ourselves in. There’s a pain in Dirk’s voice, and that meshes well with a female vocal that comes in (sadly I don’t know who she is). Dealing with loss and finding solace is the theme.
Well, I am happy to say that on the third try MOB RULES finally made a believer out of me. Since I first popped Beast Reborn on about two weeks ago it’s been getting several spins a week, not only at work, or when I’m walking with Mini-Amps at the YMCA, but also here at A&GS HQ. Strong, Power Metal riffs, big hooks delivered by an excellent vocalist, and just better songwriting in general are the things that led to my conversion. Now it’s time for me to look into some of the older stuff. Pick up your copy of Beast Reborn if you haven’t already. And when you do, go crank that shit, Jackson!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Explorer”, “War of Currents”, “Children’s Crusade”, “Traveler In Time”, “Shores Ahead”