"War Master"

By Dr. Abner Mality

If your album features a cover illustration of a cyborg barbarian slaughtering an army of vampires and monsters, chances are that subtlety is not your strong point. Case in point: "War Master", the debut from "super group" Death Dealer. If you are in the mood for skull-splitting, bombastic power/thrash metal that will make your ears shoot fountains of blood, this is for you...and practically nobody else.

The participants in Death Dealer are enough to make any metal fan sit up and take notice. Lead guitars are handled by none other than grizzled veteran Ross The Boss, he of Manowar and Dictators fame. I thought Ross was busy with his own solo band featuring Euro-based performers. I don't know if that band is still a going concern, but Death Dealer is considerably faster, more brutal and over the top than those guys. He is not the only Manowar alumnus here...drums are handled by Rhino, who filled in for the late Scott Columbus with the New Yorkers and who also plays in the band Angels of Babylon. The name that really grabbed my attention was Sean Peck, the screaming messiah of woefully underrated U.S. metal band Cage. Not sure if Cage has finally called it a day, but Peck screams his way through every track on "War Master" with as much vigor as he can manage...which is considerable. Rounding out the band is bassist Mike Davis, who was in Halford's solo band and guitarist Stu Marshall, who was the long time guitarist for Australian power metal gods Dungeon.

Now that is a hell of a line-up and Death Dealer holds absolutely NOTHING back on this album. Everything is dialed to 11...many of the songs here are scorching near-thrash with maniac guitar solos popping up everywhere and Peck's relentless high pitched screaming on top of it all. Manowar fans who are bored with the more symphonic nature of recent Manowar material should be excited by this. The song "Death Dealer" opens the attack with a sonic blast and in many ways, this is the best track here. Ross hasn't sounded this fired up in forever and the presence of second guitarist Marshall seems to be pushing him forward. As for Peck, if you can tolerate high pitched screaming, you'll love this guy, but he does get kinda tiring by the end of the record.

I think sometimes the band is a bit too much. Songs like "Hammer Down" and "War Master" go longer than they should. It's almost too much to absorb. But it's glorious overkill. Even slower tracks like "Children of Flames" and "The Devil's Mile" are heavy and bombastic. The ultimate anthem, one which seems deliberately tongue-in-cheek, is "Heads...Spikes...Walls", which is something Manowar themselves should have come up with.

In essence, if the cover of "War Master" doesn't scare you off and the band's line-up gets your pulse racing, this is an essential purchase  that is 100% utterly larger than life HEAVY METAL!