Renegade – Thunder Knows No Mercy (Pure Underground Records)Tuesday, 23rd December 2014
A ravenous eagle signals heavy metal is on the prowl – welcome to my first exposure to the Italian band Renegade on their fourth studio album Thunder Knows No Mercy. Keeping the old spirit of New Wave of British Heavy Metal alive, the quartet aren’t afraid to add in a lot of Euro-power flair to the proceedings in terms of saccharine sweet chant choruses, pounding double bass drumming, and the right amount of guitar hero antics to engage the brain adequately throughout these 8 tracks.
The earliest signs of talent lay at the leather lungs of vocalist Stefano Senesi. Someone has studied up on his early Queensrÿche records, as the man can reach ear shattering falsettos and also the evil lower tones on “Awaiting the Storm” and “Nobody Lives Forever” that made Geoff Tate such a traditional metal icon for his work from the 1980’s. Fortunately the rest of Renegade also showcases proper execution and creativity, be it through Damiano Ammannati’s clean picking against natural power distortion passages or slower, epic arrangements like the 8:42 “Trail of Tears” where everything from acoustic guitars to tension filled keyboards come into play to heighten the dynamic drama.
Favorites include “The World Is Dying” where the harmonies and melodies build and build to crescendos heard on early Edguy or 90’s era Hammerfall records (plus the bass solo from Riccardo Viciani is a left field bonus) as well as the closing title cut, a mid-tempo anthem mirroring some of the better Manowar moments through the years. On future recordings, Renegade would be wise to consider allowing Stefano to stretch even a bit more in his lower register – trust me, the best metal vocalists carry bands when they master more than one level of singing (Dio, Dickinson, Halford).
So those that enjoy Judas Priest level riffing going into more Euro-power directions will find Thunder Knows No Mercy exciting, enticing, and possibly another act to spread the buzz about to your internet friends near and far.