LEADER OF DOWN - “The Screwtape Letters”

By Dark Starr

Take a hard rock sound of bands like KISS and NAZARETH and then bring more pure metal to the mix. That gets you close to what you can expect here. This band was originally formed by the late Würzel of MOTÖRHEAD fame, so comparisons to that group are valid, but this outfit has its own sound. I love the way they take catchy hook-laden songs and crunch them up with a real ferocity. This is their second album, and I previously reviewed the other one. As much as I liked that one, I think this is even stronger.

Rapid-fire metal brings the album into being on "Cat’s Eye Night." It is a killer tune that has both catchy hooks and mean riffs. There is a little more of a straight-ahead hard rock sound at play on "Holloway Motel." Yet, it still has plenty of metal chops. It's another that's screaming hot. To some degree "Hitman" makes me think of things like KISS. It has more of a pure metal edge to it than that suggests, though. This is another high energy tune that really works well. Dennis Stratton, formerly of IRON MAIDEN, makes a guest appearance on the tune.

Perhaps a bit less metal and more screaming hot hard rock, "The Screwtape Letters" has some particularly strong hooks. "Dodging The Landlord" comes in fierce and more purely metallic. The verse has a more stripped back, hard rock and roll sound to it, though. The chorus is fiery metal, as is the instrumental section. This is another powerhouse. Another mean and furious metal rocker, "Here’s Johnny" is very cool. Coming in even heavier and more intense, "Let Them Know Your Name" still manages to have some accessible hooks amidst the ferocity.

"Whiskey Preacher" is more along the lines of a hard rocker, versus a metal tune. That said, there is still plenty of crunch to keep it under metal. I really dig the guitar solo on this thing a lot. There is a dramatic and unusual vibe to "You Might." Yet it fits well within the context of the album. It's another screaming hot metal stomper. The guitar soloing on it is particularly cool. The instrumental break on "Midnight In London" might be the best such section on the whole disc. The riffing on this is meaty, and the cut really rocks. It might be my favorite tune here, making it a great choice for closer.