Ambush – Desecrator (High Roller Records)Thursday, 24th September 2015
Given my proclivity to traditional metal roots, Sweden’s Ambush are a band after my own heart. A quintet of twenty-somethings who strap on the leather, brandishing flying V’s, and write songs about evil, darkness, and kinship – harkening back to the 1980’s scene which put bands on the platinum path to arena success. Desecrator is the band’s second album, already stoking the true flames through last year’s Firestorm debut and seeking to strike iron twice as hard as before.
To these ears, the 9 songs have a little bit more of a tighter focus, keeping the hooks and melody factor very top of mind. Immediately impressive is the multi-octave range and personality within singer Oskar Jacobsson. Studying the greats like Dickinson, Halford, and Kiske, there is insane helium high note reaching during the choruses of the title cut and broader, mid-tempo offering “Master of the Seas” while also accenting a comfortable low and mid-range element that should tickle the right clapping/sing-a-longs if the need arises. Comparisons to Kiske, early Nocturnal Rites singer Anders Zackrisson (minus the nasally stuff) and of course the Metal God Halford should abound, and it’s an asset that few younger traditional bands mine these days.
Musically, there’s an abundance of those twin rhythms and strong metal grooves that embody everything from prime time Accept for “Night of Defilers”, Judas Priest on “The Chain Reaction”, or even mid 80’s Riot on “Faster”. Ambush align well in a mid-tempo anthem template, although the closer “The Seventh Seal” is a 7:19 tour de force that would make Dio and Maiden proud, as guitarists Olof Engkvist and Adam Hagelin showcase a bevy of tradeoffs, lead breaks, and harmonization techniques as the pace quickens to a thunderous climax. Even the logo, lightning strikes, and storm surrounding the graveyard visual elements for the cover strike the right outlook – would be consumers will not mistake this for anything else other than 100% heavy metal.
Enforcer are the front runners in this new wave of Swedish heavy metal – but there’s plenty of room for others at the table, and Ambush can slot in very nicely because of Desecrator.