Ross the Boss – Born of Fire (AFM Records)Friday, 13th March 2020
Brand equity is so important in metal these days. Credibility to giving standard material professional execution – especially in the live sector – is what continues to develop a following and keep people coming back for more. Ross the Boss as a band have been proving over the past few years who can deliver the mandatory Manowar classics in a live setting – as well as recording more original albums to build his own catalog. Now adding drummer Steve Bolognese (ex-Into Eternity, ex-Beyond the Embrace) the quartet venture into album four Born of Fire ready to assault their following with a sound that is still traditional and powerful, but also conscious of using modern technology and overtones that keep the band relevant to current times.
The production values contain more aggression in terms of Ross’ guitar tone, thicker rhythm section mechanics, and layers of Marc Lopes’ multi-dimensional range from lower, biting word spew to solid mid-range melodies and savage Halford-esque screams to convey some serious pipes and attention to metal are of high command. Wasting no time to crush the hordes, “Glory to the Slain” has that old school power with quick hitting transitional strokes, Steve holding down the double kick fort as bassist Mike LePond adds his progressive bass flair to the mix and Ross tears up a bluesy, fast-hitting melodic lead break. Celtic/folk strains make “Maiden of Shadows” another standout, the keyboard orchestration enhancing the main riff while the guitar/drum interplay keeps Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy on hand, Marc choosing to use a fierce delivery and double things up when necessary during a smoother chorus while the haunting background vocals add depth to the catchy hooks. Overall you get the sense that these musicians wanted to update their style while not sacrificing those key traditional/true metal aspects that put them on the map – making “Fight the Fight” and “Godkiller” two favorites for the mix of militant/cultural elements against some hard hitting music and melodies.
Add in a cover that will be destined to be poster board/ merchandise heaven for most metalheads and you can understand that these are thriving times for Ross the Boss. Hopefully Born of Fire will allow the band to establish more of their original catalog and cause some of the Manowar material to slowly wither away – as much like U.D.O., these gentlemen aren’t content to remain in the rear view mirror when it comes to heavy metal.