Pitch Black Records
November 23rd, 2010
Release length: 39:12
For some, stamping your name on a band is one of the sincerest forms of egotism, especially when not many people know who you are. Sure, some of the bands that Freddy Alexis has worked with have been around for a while, and more then likely have a strong fanbase throughout the world, but are you sincerely that talented that you can get away with naming the band after you in some manner? Well, in this case, it’s a resounding yes, coupled with doubts brought on here and there from the music on this release. Birds of Prey takes a lot from the earlier Heavy Metal sound, and utilizes a rather raw production quality, typically in the vein of early to mid-eighties bigger Heavy Metal releases, such as albums from Manowar, though a little more pollished for today’s digital age. This music, coupled with the the clear vocal approach similar to that of early Judas Priest, but more suiting to a fantastical or Heavy Metal worship sound, leaving behind any rhasp or such additive to the approach. For the most part, this works, and it’s pretty clear Freddy Alexis is a talented individual, as are the members involved given their often equally expansive track record with other bands, with some being intertwined. The only time the vocals really will take you back is the song “Breaking the Spell”, which features a lighter, yet higher pitch vocal style at the start, and it sounds a bit comical compared to the vocals used throughout the rest of the song.
Of course, while discussing the Judas Priest-like style, the song “Metallizer II” shows a strong approach to that, utilizing a falsetto approach that, while sometimes sounds good, often just sounds pretty bad, forced, and even painful as you hear his voice cracking while straining to hit a specific note. The sound of the straining during this song, and the pain that must have been induced from it, was enough to cause pain within my own genitalia, that’s honestly how bad it sounds. The chorus sounds great though, which is very clear compared to the rest of the vocals on the song. Of course, this is the only track that features such a vocal attempt, as the rest of the material here consists of a traditional clean singing style, which is enhanced by the general Chile accent. Of course, the regional aspects of the recording reflect more then just the vocals.
Birds of Prey has a very nostalgic vibe to it, but at the same time, it seems to vary between a traditional Heavy Metal sound, perhaps with a hint of a fantastical feeling to it, as well as a general NWOBHM feel to some that seem to leave behind the band’s geographical roots. “Shadows” has just such a geographical feel to the music throughout the song, but it’s more apparent in the soothing chorus. The guitars that open this song may leave the listener a little worried, as they sound a little hollow due to the raw production, but when the song actually starts, it becomes clear that these weaker sounding guitars are far from being that, and the music winds up carrying a great bite to it and benefits greatly from the raw distortion put onto it, mostly because of the vocals overpowering them somewhat, though in a good way, and the fantastic drumming that is right on par with them the whole time, creating a great headbanging beat to even the simplest of compositions outside of this track.
Unfortunately, for as good as many of these tracks are, there are still some that simply don’t quite live up to the rest of the album. As stated, the vocals to “Metallizer II” are horrific, but that’s not the only problem. “Birds of Prey” tries to take the Heavy Metal sound into a somewhat Stoner or Sludge Metal approach, comparable to bands like Cathedral as far as the slow progression goes in the song, to even more mainstream rock acts such as Alice in Chains in certain extents. The track itself is not necessarily bad, but it could be a lot better, suffering greatly from a general feeling of being drawn out, and rather repetitive, though the many guitar solos in the track break that monotony up. This is also another song that seems to reflect the geographical roots of the band. Luckily, that’s about all the negativity behind the album.
And, luckily, it’s also not the end. Included on thsi release are three bonus tracks, though it’s unclear [to me at the time of the review] what these bonus tracks are. But, one thing is for sure: These tracks are just as enjoyable as many others on this release. When it comes to slower paced material, this album feels a little lacking, and the ones available have some really drawn out moments. However, “Without You” is a great ballad track that sounds more like an eightie’s rock ballad by some Caribbean-based act. Of course, there are times sitting here that you will wish the vocals woudl go a little higher and stronger then their traditional mid- to low-volume level. There’s also “The Witchblade”, which seems more like a song from the band Witchblade that various members of this group work with as well. It also sounds dramatically different then anythng else on the album, being a much faster song right from the start, reaching a speed that isn’t on the non-bonus tracks for Birds of Prey. “Killing Truth” also makes for a fantastic Heavy Metal track that captures the energy and spirit of the earlier tracks on the album, while being a lighter, more airy and uplifting track.
Alexis Birds of Prey is a fantastic group that does not fail to greatly impress with their semi-self-titled debut album, Birds of Prey. There plenty of great songs on here that ring of true, old-fashioned, energetic Heavy Metal that many of us grew up with, but without making it sound as glam-like as some bands have been doing as of late, such as Enforcer. Instead, the raw production adds more of a classic feel to the album, like something remastered from an early NWOBHM album, but a little harder, more along today’s standards for the style. With only a few tracks that simply don’t cut on this record, the remainder of original material, as well as the inclusion of the three outstanding bonus tracks, this is still a release that will find plenty of repeat spins in the listener, as well as many long nights kicking back like the good old days, whatever they may have been.
01. Intro – 1:04
02. Shadows – 3:30
03. Golden Path – 3:14
04. Friendly Fire – 3:47
05. Birds of Prey – 5:31
06. Breaking the Spell – 4:10
07. Metallizer II – 4:21
08. Forest – 1:49
09. Without You (Bonus Track) – 3:07
10. The Witchblade (Bonus Track) – 5:19
11. Killing Truth (Bonus Track) – 3:22
|Overall Score: 7.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Pitch Black Records.