Release length: 20:39
And sure enough, that’s what we get. Danger Ahead is just over twenty minutes, features five songs, and sounds like it was ripped right out of the eighties Heavy Metal scene. Carrying a bit of a raw audio quality aimed towards a rich analog sound, you can’t help but immediately fall in love with the pure Metal approach and attitude it erupts. The guitars have a nice sharpness to them that is loud but sound a slightly pushed into the mix, complimented with a rich echo effect, backed nicely with a strong bass presence that does seem to stick primarily to only backing up the guitars thanks to the lighter tone it carries. This is a bit of a let down, but it allows the the deeper bass kicks to really take over and add that additional kick themselves. The snares are the loudest part of it though, having more of a natural sound that isn’t too tight, but works very well in the end, especially with the lower volume cymbals that add a nice edge when they crash, but played lighter don’t have as effective an impact. The vocals are a mid-range clean singing with a nice roughness to them at times, but also go off in properly timed near-falsetto territory. Basically put, this is the eighties captured in modern times.
Every track on Danger Ahead is simply fantastic. It all starts out with the sound of an an alarm signifying an air strike, and classic Heavy Metal riffs kick off against a high pitched harmonized wail, allowing the music to build through the verse with traditional charging music until the galloping bass kicks of the drums welcome you to the chorus in with enthusiastic and infectious melodic riffs that mixes the normal clean singing with higher pitches. Sadly, the only issue here comes from the start of the solo not quite having as strong a backing from the drums as it should, though it does pick up as you go through it. From here, the music doesn’t quite have that high velodcity to it, but the material is still strong none-the-less. The only other time it picks up again is “Midnight Burner,” a rather sleek track that keeps a consistant pace from start to finish. Once you get past the slower, building introduction, it’s just a fast paced, energy-fueled Heavy Metal track with a stern atmosphere to the main verses, driven largely by the enthusiastic guitar performances and loud, echoing drums that keep the pace and help make it an instant head banging mantra in the verses, and especially the melodic chorus with an simple set of lyrics and vocal performance that will have you craving to sing along.
“The Metal Cult” works well to make the rest of the instruments strut their stuff. The snares and cymbals shine through a lot more thanks to the slightly open sound of the song, but the guitars still come through enough to add a necessary dose of authoritive melody similar to what “When the Sky Turns Red” offered up. The bass also comes through nicely here against the main passages with simpler chords, allowing the duller instrument to give a lighter tone to the music. The solo here is fantastic, and the silence from the rest of the instruments at the start really makes the impressively fast notes sink in before the music and some singing come through for a brief time. This solo then goes into a more traditional one that suits the flow of the song instead of just showing off, and continues on for a good while. Much of this can be said for the other songs, though they don’t quite end up as open as this one. It’s not such a bad thing since the instruments still shine through, and all around they still sound a lot more solid in comparison.
The initial review copy I physically received was a promotional version directly from the band. A little while afterwards, the actual version hit my inbox digitally. The Stormspell Records pressing actually contains two demo recordings of songs that don’t appear on this release, and for obvious reasons. While they were recorded in 2011, they have a more authentic eighties raw analog sound, but unfortunately restrains the material aside the bass while coming off like an early Iron Maiden album. “Traitors’ Gate” sounds a lot like a typical eighties Metal offering with a mid-tempo pace that has a bit of bite in the music, but it doesn’t quite match the enthusiasm found in the vocals. The guitar solo is short and sweet, but once you hit that point, or a little after, you’ll more than likely just want to skip past it. Finally there’s “Fight Street” which is a little more aggressive, but it carries that dirty glamorous sound in the bass-heavy passages that give it a bit of style with some sections that incorporate a slight epic sound to the streamlined music of yesterday. Either way, it’s great to have these and be able to hear them either way, but just don’t expect gold from them.
Honestly, Danger Ahead is one of the most impressive EPs I’ve heard in ages. This album is everything that made eighties Heavy Metal great in the first place, and you’re going to love it too. All five songs are great, and the only issues you will have are minor, such as missed gang chant opportunities or expecting an additional line of lyrics that didn’t come in, or even just an empty bit behind a guitar solo. Other than those little nit-picking elements, Air Raid really do put their best foot forward and straight down your throat. Danger Ahead is something all fans of Heavy Metal need to hear, as each track has enough solid musicianship to instantly make it something you’ll come back to time and time again, even if the last two bonus tracks don’t offer as much bite as the initial cuts.
01. When the Sky Turns Red – 5:36
02. Annihilation – 3:16
03. The Metal Cult – 4:31
04. Midnight Burner – 3:35
05. Free at Last – 3:41
06. Traitors’ Gate (Demo 2011) – 5:03
07. Fight Street (Demo 2011) – 4:18
|Overall Score: 9.5/10
Stormspell Records Promo Score: 9.5/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by Air Raid.
Expanded digital review copy of this release provided by Stormspell Records.