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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Death Dealer

War Master

Review by Mike Korn

You can't get any more metal than Death Dealer. One look at the cover of War Master will hammer that into your brain like a railroad spike. We've got a screaming cyborg barbarian with a giant blazing Gatling gun for one hand and a two-pronged chainsaw for another and he's laying waste to an army of monsters and ghouls, while a leather clad chick with heaving cleavage admires the carnage in the background - metal! 

The band lives up to the promise of the cover and although Death Dealer is a new name on the scene, the members of the band are anything but amateurs. Guitarist Ross the Boss and drummer Rhino know a thing or two about true metal from their tenure in the legendary Manowar. Bassist Mike Davis played alongside the Metal God himself in the Halford solo band. Second guitarist Stu Marshall played for years in Australia's number one power metal band, Dungeon. And finally, unleashing banshee wails and cries of war, we have Sean Peck, the voice of long-time US metal stalwarts Cage.

If you like your music fast, loud and bombastic but still retaining tunefulness, you'd be best advised to check out War Master. I would not say this band is at their peak yet and there are some minor problems to iron out, but this is bracing stuff that will get your pulse racing and make you want to rush out to join that cyber-barbarian in battle!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Death Dealer
Blazing drum roll, high pitched scream from hell and a thrashing barrage of iron hard riffs, these guys don't waste any time with a big intro. In many ways, this is the most furious and neck-breaking cut on the album. Sean Peck's high pitched screams might be a bit much for some to take, but I don't think Death Dealer's target audience will have any trouble with them. This song has a strongly similar vibe to Judas Priest's "Painkiller.”
Never To Kneel
This is not quite as intense as the opener but is still plenty heavy. It's got a more measured "stomping" pace and the chorus reminds one of the more anthemic Manowar. Rhino just slaps the heck out of the drum kit and there's some tasty double guitar melody, as well.
Warmaster
This is Death Dealer at their most bombastic. This tune combines aspects of all-out thrash metal holocaust with barbaric Manowar style songwriting to come up with a real headcrusher. I haven't heard Ross the Boss play this fast and heavy for years, even with his own solo band. This is so over the top, it borders on being too much to take.
Children of Flames
After the previous onslaught, it's time for a necessary breather, but I sure didn't expect to hear whistling on this album. This begins in balladic style with keyboard tones and that whistling I mentioned. It's kind of nice to hear Peck's voice when he's not screaming his gonads off. Here, he sounds like Geoff Tate in his more relaxed moments. The tune breaks into a crushing slow power riff on the chorus and there's some cool bluesy guitar soloing as well.
Curse of the Heretic
A strong galloping pace reminiscent of Priest and Maiden typifies this very classical sounding metal tune. Some will also be reminded of the underrated band Helstar as well. The vocals are kind of overdone and awkward sounding in spots here and the cackling laugh in the middle sounds like it’s out of a cartoon, especially when followed by "scary" monster vocals. This tune in general comes across as kind of silly during the slower moments, but the faster parts really rock out hard.
Hammer Down
A brute force rocking headbanger is what we've got here, based around a meat-and-potatoes pounding metal sound. It's basic but very effective. I do get rather tired of those super-deep spoken vocals Peck uses. . . they get used too much over the course of the album and the effectiveness is eventually lost. There are times when he should back off and let the music do the talking without trying to fill every moment with a scream or a wail or exaggerated vocal.
The Devil's Mile
The album's epic, this has a very cinematic sound that's reminiscent of the more recent Manowar albums. Even the more mellow moments are huge and bombastic, but those soon give way to a ripping speed-metal pace. This thing rocks like a demon and rivals "Death Dealer" as my favorite track on the album.
Liberty or Death
This is another chugging track that has some touches of Bay Area thrash á la Exodus or Testament. It's a powerful cut but seems pretty typical of the Death Dealer template. It's not one of the standout cuts.
Heads, Spikes, Walls
This brutal song is so over the top, that you can't help but smile while you listen to it. This is as heavy as you can get without slipping into death metal. The monster voices chanting "Heads...Spikes...Walls" while Peck screams his head off actually fit the song pretty well and add to the ultra-bombastic tone. I can imagine Rhino's drums screaming for mercy after the battery he delivers here.
Wraiths on the Wind
A subdued bass riff from Mike Davis starts this off and the tune launches into a catchy, headbanging riff with a slight oriental or Middle Eastern feel. This is a strong song but I might have switched places with "Heads, Spikes, Walls,” which was a mighty hard act to follow. By the time this album wraps up, you are an exhausted, sweaty mess.
 
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