Oz - Burning Leather
It came to surprise me that, despite Scandinavian metal gloryists Oz's 30+ year existence, I had never heard of them prior to this release. Burning Leather is their first collection of fresh material since the early 90's, when the band decided to call it quits. And, while I can't speak for their older material, if it's similar to what Burning Leather offers, one can understand why. Metal of this nature (aka NWOBHM, Priest/Maiden-esque traditional fare) seemed to lose it's head of steam over the 80's and, by the time the 90's rolled around, very few still carried the standard. But, in recent years, we've witnessed the resurrection of many of metal's originators and early innovators, and it only seems fitting that Oz jump into the fray.
By the time you're finished with Burning Leather, you'll no doubt feel the same way. "Dominator" is bold in that it is, without a doubt, the best track on the album and starting out on the highest note possible is nothing but daring. It's so damn good that it took me several listens just to continue on into the rest of the record. The chorus sounds like something Ronnie James Dio would have dreamed up. Indeed, vocalist Ape DeMartini is at times a carbon copy of the late great, conjuring up some intense high notes and pacing the sound with an aggressive, ballsy mid-ranged melodic shout. The vocals are one of the big draws of bands of this ilk, and knowing they're done right, right off the bat, keeps expectations high throughout the album. Even when the band seems to cruise control through the middle of the record, standouts are easy to find. "Fire In The Brain" is an old staple of the band's repetoire, dusted off and brought back to life. Awesome riffs and leads by the twin guitars drive this into your memory like a spike. Worth mentioning, and one of the few things that hurts Burning Leather, is the unabashed corniness of the lyrics. No doubt fitting, and perhaps even blatantly obvious via the album's name by itself, I still cringe at lines like "It's gonna be okay/tonight we rock, tonight we roll/let's rock and roll" (Enter Stadium). It's not so easily overlooked for everyone, but the high quality of melodic riffs, standard and fitting rhythms and big, fist-pumping choruses certainly helps.
I dare say Oz remains more true to their roots than any other similar band still in action today. Burning Leather is a simple, effective tribute to a monumental time in hard rock and metal's history, when originators of the craft brought enduring staples such as darker themes, powerful melodic techniques and a vocal style that straddled the operatic as much as the hard and heavy. No matter how unoriginal it may be, Burning Leather is refreshing in the way the upteenth glass of cool water on a hot day still is.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.