Back in the day before the cranium splitting crunch of thrash there was the glorious high pitched shrieks, galloping bass lines and power chords from the likes of Maiden, Priest, Tyrant, Manowar, Accept, Hollow Ground, Black Axe and, the band we're talking about, OZ. Today, however, genuine NWOBHM styled metal is hard to come by and what can be had is often the same exact albums we had thirty years ago!
But, for those of you who are complete junkies to the oldschool, fear not, because one of the mightiest of Nordic metal bands, OZ, has arisen again to bring back the very essence of the glory days!
Many a hardcore metalhead had an OZ album wedged into their collection, especially their break through 1983 album "Fire In The Brain" or 85's "Turn The Cross Upside down"...and let me remind you, these guys had been around since the Seventies, bringing unbridled metal to their native country of Finland long before there was really an established scene. Matter of fact, they had to go to Stockholm to be closer to the flourishing Swedish metal community...ironic, considering that today, it's estimated that over 2 million Finns are headbangers in a population roughly of 5 million! It is very safe to say that OZ is one of the founding fathers of metal in a land which prides itself as being the home to such acts as Children of Bodom, Stratovarius, The 69 Eyes, Battlelore, Amorphis and Impaled Nazarene among others.
Now, some 21 years after their previous release "Roll The Dice", OZ comes back to feed you the fistful of power that you crave; the entire album is a tribute to early metal without sounding at all contrived due to the fact that you're listening to a band which was actually there and not some group of snot nosed brats who are emulating their favorite music...these guys are playing what they've always played: Heavy Metal!
Metal anthems such as "Dominator", "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie", "Burning Leather" and "Total Metal" mix it up with new takes on classics like "Search Lights", "Fire In The Brain" (which, by the way, now opens with "Fire In The Brain, Take 2") and "Turn The Cross Upside Down", all of which, can easily go toe to toe with the originals.
As I roll this LP, it sounds as if it had been recorded in '82 (hell, even the vid for Dominator is a bit retro), it fits so well into its genre; yet, it does not at all feel out of place in 2012! I do have to admit, that there is one track which doesn't quite do it for me, and that is "Enter Stadium"; it has a very heavy 80's Sunset Blvd feel to it, but that in of itself, is nowhere near an excuse to knock this album...all in all, I would say this is exactly what the doctor ordered for those of you starved of anthemic choruses and glass shattering vocals nailing those high notes while hooking you on clean metal beats and axe melting leads.
OZ, being a blast from the past, is actually a breath of fresh air and this, as the saying goes, " is metal as fuck!"