From the moment you hit play on this one you are instantly transported back to the glory days of the style via the revving of a motorcycle in a fairly analog rock and roll leather worshipping Judas Priest manner. The thundering bass kicks of the guitar and spot-on attitude of the seventies and eighties just drench this hard-hitting track, though it feels a bit more laid back than it should be when not hitting you with fast paced and technically sound hooks of the chorus. It’s a somewhat exciting start that gives way to “Fire Angel” and its chugging metal riffs similar to “Metal Til We Die” by Messiah’s Kiss to the point where it’s a bit difficult to not hear those lyrics transposed over the chorus on this one.
“Rock This World” presents a familiar eighties back alley grittiness with a strong commanding presence that is as uplifting as it is dominating. Like a page torn from an early Judas Priest book merged with Whitesnake, this is one of the few tracks that show some additional enthusiasm thanks to the melodic chorus that includes solid layering on the vocals to give them the strong bite they desperately need to push this one a little more over the top in a way that easily would have climbed the charts as well back in the day alongside the closing ballad “Smooth Hit Love” that is like a cross between any glam rock band the cold presentation of Set the World On Fire by Annihilator.
Then you have “Love’s Within (Yourself)”, your traditional heavy metal piece akin to the likes of Helloween or even White Wizzard. The main verses hit at a faster pace with some of the strongest vocals on the release thanks to the additional falsettos thrown in outside the chorus that slows things down and offers effects and layering in the singing that take an immediate backseat to the solid bass presence and controlling drums that take center stage and almost hypnotize you every time. That is until everything works in unison for the climactic conclusion that is carried into “Wildfire” with its clear Running Wild influence laced with insert any fantasy based power metal act around the tine of the guitar solo.
The only aspect of Rock This World holding it down ends up being how laid back much of it comes across. This seems to be due to the somewhat analog quality in an attempt to capture the true output of eighties heavy metal, which only teases the energy Death Keeper can clearly bring to the table. Picture if Katana or Iron Maiden had been as restrained as Ghost is and you have a good idea of what’s going on here. “Rock & Roll City” and a few other deeper cuts benefit by gaining a hint of edge to the hard-hitting music, but then you get the whimsical, more complex tracks like “Haven’s Heaven” that have an obvious Edguy grandiosity to them beyond the main verses that just seem stuck to the ground and unable to take off despite the solid bass presence making your head bob along to the slower pacing and intricate neo-classical inspired guitar work.
However, none of that applies to the instrumental track “Thriving Forcast” as it is just a bit of an oddball track that somehow still manages to fit snuggly in the line-up. While most stick to the traditional roots of rock and metal or will flirt with more epic compositions, this one is more a dark progressive piece. Sure, the main verses and some of the solos will have you wanting to hike it to the nearest dive bar and take in the cigarette smoke that compliments the depressive atmosphere, clack of the billiard balls and hard rock from the juke box, but it’s the random changes like the folk-heavy acoustic introduction and Santana worthy blues inspired passage just four minutes in that offer a little more depth than just being another typical rock instrumental, landing it outside the rules and restrained faults that are littered about the album as a whole.
Even though you’ll sit here wishing the audio reflected the hidden enthusiasm of the performances and vocalist Dey Rus would just let loose instead of playing it safe, Rock This World stands as a solid example of vintage heavy metal and hard rock spanning from the dirty back alleys of the eighties to the most epic of melodic heights and everything in between. This first full-length outing is quite the proficient one with plenty of infectious tracks, as well as a small handful of adventurous ones that show the group isn’t a one-trick pony but still has plenty of growth ahead of them. If you’re looking for an original album that throws back to the roots of hard rock and heavy metal from across the globe and then some, Rock This World is not only an album worth grabbing, but a warning sign that Death Keepers are an sct worth keeping close tabs on.