St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
Welcome back! For this week’s Old Metal Thursday we have another Metal Blade US power metal juggernaut in Connecticut’s LIEGE LORD and their 1988 swan song long-player Master Control, their third offering.
(Check out that straight-up MEGADETH rip at 37:58. NICE!)
I know what you’re thinking. This vocalist, Mr. Joe Comeau, sounds a dead ringer for Bruce Dickinson. Yes, THE Bruce Dickinson. BD’s influence makes that a charge that gets trotted out way too often, but this is one instance where the striking similarity cannot be ignored. And hey, ole Joe played GUITAR for OVERKILL, so he even has Bruce’s polymath wizardry down pat. Whether the mimicry is a plus or minus for LIEGE LORD in your book is a probably a matter of personal taste as it’s undeniable the vocals are well done.
What about the rest? I personally find this album both a) pleasing and b) not as good as everybody thinks (“everybody” being mostly nostalgia-driven jerks like myself). A bevy of thrashy riffs doing battle with more upbeat and melodic moments; speedy and crystalline solo trade-offs; those vocals; a pulsating rhythmic foundation: this is pretty much USPM incarnate circa 1988, sharing the obvious similarities with IRON MAIDEN as well as our friends JAG PANZER et al.
In moments, it nearly matches their excellence. Too often though, Master Control feels fatigued and elderly, and somewhat haphazard: even where the music hits, the exuberance of their contemporaries and forebears has been stripped in favor of tried-and-true comfort. Microwaveable, ready-to-eat. It lacks highs; it lacks lows; it really comes across as safe and middling when put up against Ample Destruction, The Spectre Within, Warning of Danger or any number of other discs that fall under the broad USPM umbrella. I have the feeling this may have seemed as such in 1988 as well without the benefit of 25 years of hindsight, though your mileage may vary depending on your affinity for this very engaging style of metal.
My lazy verdict: classic? Nah. Enjoyable? Yes, certainly. Worth hunting down? That’s up to you; just don’t forget Into the Void Records on your latest metal sojourn, whether longing for the old days or digging up new classics.
At the end of writing this I found this image and couldn’t not pass it along:
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