Mustang – Beyond Raging Thunder (Fighter Records)Monday, 4th September 2023
Metal truly is a global force. Newcomers from all continents showcase their love for the genre – such as the band up for review, Mustang from India. Forming in 2015, they’ve established a strong local presence, releasing a couple of singles before signing with Fighter Records who issue their debut album Beyond Raging Thunder. Smartly teaming up with Jan Loncik for co-producing/mixing responsibilities (he’s worked on records with Traveler and Riot City) plus Dennis Koehne from Germany to handle the mastering (Sodom, Exumer, Lacuna Coil to his credits) aids the cause for a solid sounding record. Although the eight original songs (plus Judas Priest cover) display decent knowledge of traditional, old-school power/speed ways, there are a few bumps in the roads to achieving originality or cohesive performances.
Cliches abound as far as the unison background vocal/choir action, searing twin guitar rhythms, supportive bass/drum foundational parts, as well as influences that run the spectrum from Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate to Agent Steel, Crimson Glory, and of course Judas Priest. As quickly as the band rip out a speedy number like “Children of Thunder”, they also can lay down a semi-ballad for “Realm of Madness” that ramps up in power (and tempo) where the fiery, shredding leads take the track into devil horns praise worthiness. Haunting atmosphere as well as fluid bass work allows “Terror Striker” to check off all the classic metal boxes, the shrieking falsetto and magnetic voice of Arijit ‘Piercer’ Dutta living up to his nickname during the varied verses/potent chorus. This is probably where Mustang will receive a lot of love/hate opinions for total appreciation (or disdain) – as Arijit has one of those deliveries (and ranges) that can be King Diamond meets John Cyriis-esque, rising to the occasion in off kilter situations which challenge the listener to stay engaged. It’s where “Ram It Down” probably misses the mark, as Rob Halford’s premiere voice/melodies are difficult to replicate, Arijit instead taking the song into more of his distinctive, personal shrieking register.
In the end, this is a debut record that showcases undeniable passion for the speed/traditional cause. Mustang just need to reign in the vocals a touch on the next record as Beyond Raging Thunder will probably gain underground attention but struggle to hit that next level of ladder ascension to success.