Chasing the Storm reviews
Acrobat on June 21st, 2014
Blazing Wigan speed!
NWOBHM was undoubtedly one of metal's most diverse scenes; from farty pub rock to extreme metal, from wimpy prog to occult doom, from Northallerton to Newcastle and from Lancashire to London. The scene really introduced so much of what we take for granted in nowadays metal and yet its youth and inexperience guranteed that most bands never graduated from the pubs and village halls. Tröjan's debut arrives at a strange point in the NWOBHM scene - as it was dying fizzling out rather than going from strength to strength as it had in the early 1980s. Still, from one listen to this you'd really have no idea that English metal was on its knees in '85. While Saxon were engaging with some heavy petting with the American mainstream and Blind Fury were proving to be no match for Satan, Tröjan were delivering the goods with gutsy speed.
Indeed, this album does offer an excellent blend of speed metal and some more traditional tropes. You'll get relentless speed as well as more 'sensitive' NWOBHM themes (remember, the Englishmen of the 1980s weren't afraid of their emotions, but rather they were afraid of women who proved to much more emotionally complex than cans of beer). Let's take 'Icehouse' for a fantastic example; it varies from bruising NWOBHM to more mid-1980s Germanic stuff with those closing, epic leads (as it happens the band love closing tracks with cool melodic lead sections). So, while musically this album isn't really too far behind, say, Helloween's earliest output the vocals and themes are more typical of the metal scene a few years prior. Take Graeme Wyatt's vocals for example, which are typical of the NWOBHM "have a go" spirit. His voice cracks and breaks, but in true weebles spirit, he never falls down. What he lacks in control he more than makes up for in energy, which is what really gives this album its bare-knuckle feel.
What you'll notice about Chasing the Storm is that it has a fantastic sense of forward momentum; even when they're playing at mid tempo it still feels fast! One of the questions every metalhead must ask his or herself is "is it possible to play mid-tempo speed metal?" and Tröjan respond here with a resounding yes! This blend of Raven-esque speed and more streamlined, mid-80s style proves that even if you can play faster speed metal always feels faster. Of course, the opener 'Chasing the Storm' is delivered with such blazing heroic enthusiasm that I very think it's one of those songs that every metal fan should hear. The main riff just provides the perfect bridge between the early 1980s and the mid-1980s; twiddly one-string mid-1980s speed riffing ended with a open chord ala Riot's Fire Down Under. It manages to be epic, driving and just downright impressive. From the epic verses - 'It's haunting you, calling you!' - to searing wah-solos, if you're not downright impressed with this then you must be dead.
On the other hand, my other favourite song on this record is 'Help Me' which really is something that you don't hear much from metal bands after, say, 1985 (that is, unless they're deliberately trying to sound like they're from 1982). It's an excellent ode to insecurity and a genuine cry for, uh, help. It was always cool when NWOBHM bands didn't feel the need to express their sensitive side through ballads but rather with catchy, up-tempo and Diamond Head did something similar with 'Helpless' on their sole classic, Lightning to the Nations. See, metal can be sensitive without castration! Honestly, though, the whole album's a barrel of fun whether it's plying a more familiar NWOBHM trade or giving us hints of future speed.
It's really a sad thing that heavy metal was a dying art in the mid-to-late 1980s in Britain as bands like Tröjan, Cloven Hoof, Desolation Angels and Elixir showed that the isle still had much more to offer Sadly, as the case was, most of these bands were ignored in their own time and either folded ala Cloven Hoof or went into thrashier territory. Tellingly, Tröjan would later change their name to Taliön and deliver an album that was - in keeping with the vast majority of UK thrash - not very good.
DeathRiderDoom on June 19th, 2009
Red Hot Speed Metal - Lose Your 'Sweater'
Tröjan – Chasing the Storm
This is a release I’ve been meaning to review for some time, and finally decided to take the plunge, while avoiding doing any of my real responsibilities. I’m actually fairly surprised no one’s reviewed any of Tröjan’s stuff at the time of this writing. I’ve heard them mentioned around a bit, and this – their only studio album seems to be generally heralded as somewhat of classic in its own right – a landmark blending of speed metal and NWOBHM – much in the vain of Atomkraft and Avenger, perhaps even the well-known Raven. What we have here is strong, lightning speed rock n roll from start to finish. Starting at the album art – which is among the best covers from the year hands down, you know your not in for a middle of the road goofy hodge podeg of wannabe medievalisms and awkward sleaziness. What we have on this record is pedal to the floor, balls out speed metal, white knuckled intensity and genuine professionalism from the band.
Starting off with the furious opener ‘Chasing the Storm’ was an excellent decision by the band. If you were giving this the obligatory test-listen at the record store you’d be sold in all of 3 seconds. Fucking thrilling pace and aggression in this number! What’s cool about this speed metal attack is it retains a lot of that classic and hallmark British sear in the vocals – markedly different from the hardcore punk sounding US speed metal bands. This speed metal variety retains the focus on aggressive melody on the vocal side of things, complete with your thundering drums and axe attack. The vocals in ‘Chasing the Storm’s chorus, and the strong second cut ‘Tonight We’ve Got it Made’exemplify this approach well. The anthemism of these attacks is carried through many of the other tracks as well, though they don’t all have the rocketing pace of the first two.
Tracks like ‘Backstabber’ and ‘Hypnotised’ fabricate your obligatory mid-album slower section, but still consist of same shattering riffage and solos. The ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ ishness of riffage in ‘Backstabber’ is suddenly supplanted with an uproarious solo, and Avengeresque punchers on guitar. While Graeme Wyatt is a good vocalist – possessing great aggression (essential for speed metal) and that classic Biff Byfordish tone of voice – he isn’t the master of the high notes that oh, say Tony Moore is. And I know it’s unfair to judge every speed metal album on the standard set by Thundersteel, but during the oft attempted highs here by Wyatt, his voice shows signs of faltering – which is no surprise – my voice does that – and plenty of vocalists don’t have all the horsepower at this level of RPM’s, but it is pretty noticeable here. This is largely evident in the two mentioned tracks, and since this is largely an excellent speed metal? NWOBHM album – it must be mentioned that what keeps it from being a ‘Thundersteel’ are the vocals. Not bad – but could’ve benefitted from some better executed highs.
The remainder of the album consists of the emotive guitar lead laden (and Maidenesque) ‘Icehouse’ – a gallopy riff monster, the return to dirty 70’s Riot riffage in the top tier anthem ‘No Prisoners’, and a couple of decent closers. Apart from the first two – ‘No Prisoners’ a slightly slower number – is one I really get into. Besides your obvious aggression in the lyrics, this one has some heavy drumming – bringin to the table a sound comparable to early 80’s Riot – albeit with weaker production. The solo in this one is passable – but would’ve benefitted from more inventiveness, additional harmonies and better production. Things are at times a little blurry in this album, with the heavy drumming kindof drowned-out, limiting the impact. If you listen hard enough – the drums are there, but they don’t kick you up the arse like they would do with better recording. ‘Hot ‘N Ready’ and ‘Help Me’ are more traditional NWOBHM attacks – and don’t have quite the standout quality of the earlier tracks – while still being good. I like the fade out riff in the latter, positioned underneath the emotive chorus vocal.
Yeah, just get the album. Fans of NWOBHM and mid 80’s heavy metal definitely. Plenty of NWOBHM riff attacks, mixed with pacey attacks like the excellent closer ‘Aggressor’ – sounding very akin to the mid 80’s German sound. Thrilling speed metal with four top tier numbers mixed with a remainder of strong cuts good enough to one up many competitors. Totally headbangable metal here – about as far from AOR, Glam, or hard rock as you could get, and well-likely to become a top-shelf dweller in any switched-on metalheads collection. Check this one out now if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard the buzz surrounding the band yet. You WILL NOT be disappointed – easily one of the most universally likeable albums I’ve reviewed so far (that’s a lot of albums), far from an ‘acquired taste’ (see: Satanic Rites, Touched, Clientelle, Y Diawled). Check it out and join the worship.
Chasing the Storm track list
|1||Chasing the Storm||04:58|
|2||Tonight We've Got It Made||03:06|
|3||Only the Strong Survive||04:15|
|7||Take No Prisoners||04:09|
|8||Hot 'n' Ready||03:00|
Chasing the Storm lineup
|Pete Wadeson||Guitars, Vocals (backing)|
|Graeme Wyatt||Vocals (lead)|