"Onward Into Battle"

By Colonel Angus

The NWOBHM was a magical time when so much great music was being released that it became difficult to follow all the bands.  So like most people, I gravitated towards a relatively small list of musicians that included Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Motorhead.  Somewhere along the line, metal broke up into many sub-genres with some of them good and some of them awful (Nu-Metal comes to mind).  All of this is sort of a build up to the fact that there are a bunch of bands that are resurrecting that old NWOBHM sound and labeling it New Wave of Classic Heavy Metal of NWOCHM. 

One of these new bands hails from my home town of Chicago and they are flying the NWOCHM flag proudly.  They definitely channel all those great NWOBHM bands but they still manage to have a unique sound.  Sure, Crusader doesn’t shy away from showing that they were inspired by Motorhead (“Thunderkill” and “Onward Into Battle”) or Iron Maiden (“Hopeless Destiny” and “Dead Kings”) but more than just copying those bands, they take bits and pieces from a bunch of bands and mix them together to make up something a little more unique.  Even though they clearly are in the NWOCHM camp, they also inject some early thrash elements into a track like “Witch Hunt” which keeps things interesting.  Even the production on this disk has a retro feel with everything sounding nice and raw and not over-produced.  The standout cuts for me are “Witch Hunt”, “Dead Kings” and the title track but that being said, there really are no filler tunes.  I have listened to the whole Onward Into Battle experience at least 20 times and I’m always discovering new parts, which in my opinion, is the sign of a good disk.

As I mentioned earlier, these guys hail from Chicago.  They have been on the live circuit for a while which is probably why the band sounds really tight on the record.  Brad and Joe are on guitar duty and they come up with some catchy riffs along with some memorable lead work.  Mikeii has Steve Harris written all over his bass playing which helps give it that Maiden vibe and Colin plays like a cross between Clive Burr and a sober “Philthy Animal” Taylor.  The last piece to the Crusader puzzle is Hoagy.  His vocals fit the songs perfectly and they have that early metal sound.   And not in that operatic style of. let’s say, a Bruce Dickinson; he’s more of a Paul Di’Anno.   My biggest hope for Crusader is that Stormspell Records promotes these guys and gets them on a countrywide tour.  Onward Into Battle is too good to fall to the wayside.  I know the year is only half over but barring some unforeseen incredible releases, "Onward Into Battle" will make it into my top 10 for 2014.