Probably one of the more obscure Speed Metal bands to come out of the UK, MARSHALL LAW began as something of a late 80s JUDAS PRIEST oriented outfit that didn’t quite go further than getting their foot in the door. The rise of Grunge music basically killed them off after only putting out 2 albums by 1992, but they were quickly resurrected, possibly due to the short-lived fad that was thought to have slain the Metal beast. And like man 80s outfits, when these guys came back they weren’t in a partying mood anymore, but instead were looking to kick the hell out of the Alternative Rock whiners clogging up the airwaves with a much more aggressive and modern approach to their old style.
Their second studio effort after their reformation, aptly titled “Warning From History”, presents the band in a much more menacing light, as was the case with the previous one. While bands like GAMMA RAY stuck mostly to the 80s style and others like IRON SAVIOR stuck to the more traditional JUDAS PRIEST format, these guys were onto something a little closer to the US Power Metal style of hard riffing and aggressive singing, although with a much louder and slightly muddier guitar tone. This sound was picked up in varying degrees by the likes of SEVEN WITCHES, MYSTIC PROPHECY, LEASH LAW, ANNIHILATOR and WINTER’S BANE at various points later on, but it’s pretty safe to say that MARSHALL LAW were ahead of their time with this album and the last one considering how most other bands stuck to a lighter style.
In some respects this listens close to YNGWIE’S later albums, although without quite as much extended Neo-classical shredding. It could be safely assumed that the Swedish fret board maestro either heard this album or something similar to it before coming up with the title track of “War To End All Wars”, although unfortunately he didn’t stick to this band’s more even handed production style. In fact, both of the first 2 full length songs “Victory At Last” and “Locked And Loaded” have a strong similarity to a number of recent YNGWIE Speed Metal offerings, mostly due to the common practice era chord progressions and the heavy usage of that exotic sounding Phrygian mode for the choruses. Naturally YNGWIE was doing stuff like this as early as 1994 so it is just as likely that these guys borrowed some ideas from him, but I swear that MALMSTEEN’S 2005 song “Locked And Loaded” sounds really similar to the song on here by the same name.
When the band does take time to slow things down they sort of revert back to their 80s roots of powerful choruses with multiple harmony parts, but still maintaining the messier sounding modern guitars. Although a really easy going slower song, “Remembered Forever” has this really nasty sounding guitar feedback intro and a really heavy bass presence throughout. Pyke’s vocals are less formulaic and more passionate on slower songs like this one as well, sounding somewhat like a Ripper Owens or a Wade Black, but without the really high Halford wails that both of them tend to overuse. Indeed, the best overall song on here is “Crucified”, which sticks to a slower tempo and showcases some powerful Middle Eastern influences in both the riff and vocal work.
For the prospective buyer, this album is a pretty solid example of a modern Speed Metal album, albeit about as formulaic as your better SEVEN WITCHES albums. They tend to rely on a limited range of ideas and vary them in moderate amounts to fill out their fast songs, and seem to employ some similar ideas on their slower songs. Some of the longer songs like “March Of History” and “Retreat” vary it up a little by using keyboards and acoustic parts sparingly and also by introducing some Thrash elements to their riffs, but otherwise the music is pretty predictable. It’s very enjoyable and doesn’t really sound bad at any point, but next to more interesting versions of this style like WINTER’S BANE’S “Redivivus” and ANNIHILATOR’S “Waking The Fury”, it seems to come up a little short.
(Online December 14, 2008)