"Heads Will Roll

By Lord Randall

Take 5 Swedes who look for all the world like the cast-out spawn of CHEAP TRICK
 and SAXON, give them an affinity for all things Asian rivaled only by Gary Glitter and Graham Bonnet ( Can't believe you said that!--Shocked Mality), and lock them in a room with only vinyl released in England from the onset of the NWOBHM until DEF LEPPARD’s drummer lost his arm.'ve just met KATANA. 

On "Heads Will Roll", KATANA’s worldwide debut, the quintet sticks with the tried
and true formula of those who’ve come before. Uber-trad song structures, occasional harmony vocals and cleanly played leads join spot-on drumming to create an atmosphere tailor-made for the air-punching denim and leather set. ‘Livin’ Without Fear’ is the ideal kickoff for "Heads Will Roll" including all the elements mentioned above, yet what I hope isn’t their “name song” (‘Blade Of Katana’) falters badly, coming off like an ALCATRAZZ outtake from "Dangerous Games", itself a study in what happens when good bands do bad things. Thankfully, things pick up for KATANA, ‘Phoenix On Fire’ and ‘Neverending World’ returning the quintet to favor with punchy guitar work and the vocals of Johan Bernspang taking the old curmudgeons among us back to the days of cassettes and Metal Edge before it started sucking. It had to happen sometime, and with ‘Heart Of Tokyo’, we’re jetted across the sea to Japan, long a bastion of hard rock fandom. Japan, specifically, has never lost its appreciation for the NWOBHM or ‘80s hard rock, and KATANA reveals themselves as more than adept at the style. ‘Asia In Sight’ rocks like early IRON MAIDEN, dual leads and an anthemic chorus bringing to mind EDGUY at their best. Ending with ‘Quest Of Hades’, we see the band trying to tackle Greek mythology, and while most will see this as the band’s attempt at writing their own Dickinson/Harris-worthy epic, I see nods to ‘70s greats URIAH HEEP all through this. Not as flashy as MAIDEN would become, but I could see this on "Killers" without much effort.

With "Heads Will Roll", KATANA has given us a solid introduction to a band that’s 
most assuredly worth your time, especially if you’re sick of the wannabe “retro”
acts like WOLFMOTHER clogging up the airwaves. Recommended.