St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
It’s not just that their lone full-length, 1987’s The Last Day, is highly worthy of praise — as the recent recent blog history should attest, I obviously enjoy teasing our fine readers with the diamonds in the densest rough. No; it’s also that their vintage mid-80s sound has a je ne sais quoi that dovetails very nicely with the approach of many of today’s highly touted retro acts. So as a change, I promise a greater dose of modern relevance to counter my usual nostalgic posturing.
More on that below. For now, power/speed metal at its stripped-down finest!
Sometimes it’s worth a step back to let music like this describe itself. Most of it simply works. The riffs, for speed metal, are surprisingly rich and diverse. The instrumentation is highly capable and engaging; the tempos are bursting with energy and an excellent sense of architecture. Ditto that for the restrained use of harmony. Above it all, Lynn Renaud’s flinty vocals, heavily accented, are a special treat that lend MESSIAH FORCE an unmistakable identity. Speed metal is possibly one of the most readily perfectible of metal’s subgenres and these guys (and gal) have come damned close to that achievement with The Last Day.
Which brings me to my “modern” tie-in: just as one can can sniff out the obligatory IRON MAIDEN here along with older HELLOWEEN, AGENT STEEL and similar acts of the time, one can see where the same pieces have been put back together by bands looking to rekindle that very metal, very 1980s flair. One that immediately comes to mind for me is Sweden’s ENFORCER, whose three albums to date are heavily reminiscent of MESSIAH FORCE in tone and tempo with just a bit more NWOBHM attitude and swing. Even the vocals, despite being nominally male in ENFORCER, share a similar piercing quality of delivery. Check out 2010’s Diamonds below and see if you don’t agree.
The good news here is you won’t be high-and-dry for new material: although the MESSIAH FORCE material is hopelessly out-of-print, ENFORCER persists, including a new album From Beyond scheduled for March 10 on Nuclear Blast. Keep an eye out for a review here and don’t forget to stock up on your speed metal at Into the Void in the interim.
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