There are already way too many bands plying the NWOBHM well and truly trodden paths these days. The genre is busting at the seams and we are getting to the stage where every new Traditional Metal band is getting advertising solely on basis that they look like they just crept out of a cave after being incarcerated for thirty years, bearing DIAMOND HEAD and ANGEL WITCH patches. Long hair is de rigueur as is tight denims and tape trading is still en vogue.
And those of us, redoubtable members of the when Metal was Metal back in the 1980’s look at these bands with ELTON JOHN sized rose-tinted glasses and yearn for the days when IRON MAIDEN, SAXON and JUDAS PRIEST ruled the Rock world.
Made up by ex-members of WHITE WIZZARD, HOLY GRAIL offer up much more of the same NWOBHM sounds that their former band did. It really is quite difficult to be objective about a band that ply the Trad Metal sound with wanton abandon. They obviously care little for the opinions of others except other itinerant cave dwellers, possibly and are visibly proud to wear the we are a Heavy Metal band on their collective sleeves.
Shame then that the music on offer is bog standard Heavy Metal with a vocalist who must sit with his nuts in a vice to get such a startling vocal range. You’ll find plenty of supporters for bands like HOLY GRAIL, you will also find plenty of bands far better and worth more attention.
For sure it kicks off with great alacrity on ‘’My Last Attack,’’ a rampant blast of Power Thrash Metal, singer James Paul Luna is really gearing up for battle as his larynx stretches to infinity and beyond. The riffing is rather nifty as is the tight, super-speed soloing but it doesn’t sound like anything you haven’t heard before. ‘’Call Of Valhalla’’ has a decent groove, a bit like CORROSION OF CONFORMITY ‘’Wiseblood’’ era but then lends itself to a daft Melodic chorus which really ruins a good song. At least Luna isn’t competing with the neighbourhood’s cats on this one. The title track is simply bloody awful but the Metal is still there, abundant and rich. Each and every song is redolent in the very sweat and tears of Heavy Metal music. But after a while Luna’s voice will irritate which is a real pity given the duel guitar play of Eli Santana and James J. LaRue is nothing short of exceptional.
It’s easy to get carried away on the crest of the True Heavy Metal wave currently riding the planet but not every band can be an IRON MAIDEN or a JUDAS PRIEST and even though there’s ostensibly little wrong with the sound or image of HOLY GRAIL, their sound is still stuck in 1983 and will therefore only appeal to those vintage Metal heads who have long since cut their hair and wish to reminisce about yesteryear.
(Online May 18, 2011)