I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Stereo Nasty, "Twisting the Blade" (2017)
Genre: Heavy/Traditional Metal
Release: Stormspell Records, 2017
It's been a while since we've heard of a new heavy metal contender hailing from Ireland. The Emerald Isle has a long, proud tradition of homegrown heavy music -- they gave the world Thin Lizzy back in the day, of course, and more recently retro-thrashers like Gama Bomb and blackened Celtic combos like Cruachan have continued to fly the flag for Irish metal -- but straight up, old school leather-and-spikes HM also has a home in the land of Guinness, in the form of Twisting the Blade from Stereo Nasty. Twisting the Blade is the second album from this Kildare quartet, who've been grinding out the heavy stuff since 2013.
Stereo Nasty was a new name to me when Twisting... first came across my desk, but I had a feeling that they were going to be up my alley before I even pressed "play" on the first track. As a long time movie nerd, I immediately dug that the band's name was a play on the term "Video Nasty"—a relic from the censorship frenzy of the 1980s, when certain gory horror films were deemed too "obscene" to be released to the U.K. home video market. Stereo Nasty's sinister, cheap slasher-film vibe continues on the album's simple-but-effective cover art of a hand holding a knife, like something you might have seen on the cover of one of those "forbidden" VHS tapes back in the day. This is how metal is supposed to feel - a little rough around the edges and slightly dangerous!
"Kill or Be Killed"
Stereo Nasty lets you know they're not messing around right off the bat with the opening track "Kill Or Be Killed," which occupies a nice middle ground between vintage Accept and classic Metal Church thanks to Adrian Foley's tight crunchy guitar riffing and Mick Mahon's hoarse-but-effective vocal snarls. It took me a while to pin down a comparison for Mahon's voice, but it finally occurred to me that he resembles a rougher, grittier version of Sweden's Urban Breed (Tad Morose, Bloodbound, Serious Black), or perhaps Jon Oliva (Savatage) in his younger days. Whoever you want to compare him to, the fact is that Mahon's got a serious set of throat-shredding pipes. This dude must gargle a mouthful of gravel and grain alcohol before he steps up to the microphone!
"No One Gets Out Alive" is a classy slab of Judas Priest/Armored Saint worship, then "Reflections Of Madness" slams the gas pedal down to the floor and adds a healthy pinch of thrash-metal grit to the proceedings. "Near Dark" has a nice mid-tempo chug and leads into my favorite track -- "Through the Void," which hearkens back to Metallica's classic "Sanitarium (Welcome Home)" in the way it starts out all mellow-n-moody and then continuously rises and falls through the verses before finally barreling into a late-inning all-out mosh-it-up fiesta. "Haunting the Night" and the title track keep the metal flowing and the devil horns held high, till "Vengeance" gives the listener a short respite from the non stop mayhem. This short, two-minute instrumental bit sounds like something the band might have plucked from the soundtrack to one of their favorite low budget '80s horror films. Its mournful guitar tone and synth accents give it a proper John Carpenter or Goblin feel. You can practically imagine yourself sitting in a run-down grindhouse theater, listening to this tune accompany the opening credits of some grimy, sleazy splatter flick... then just when you start to relax a little, Stereo Nasty belts you upside the head one last time with the slamming final track, "Becoming a Beast," which clutches you in its claws and ends the album on a satisfyingly thrashy note.
Summing it Up
Stormspell Records has really been knockin'em out of the park with their Fall 2017 release slate thus far, and Twisting the Blade is another definite winner. Before I'd even finished listening to this album all the way through, I was already adding a copy of Stereo Nasty's debut, Nasty By Nature, to my want list. These guys are the real deal!
In case I haven't made it perfectly clear just yet, Twisting the Blade is a rollicking good time and should be required listening for everyone who still keeps their stack of old metal vinyl stashed away in the back of their closets, next to their dusty concert tees and crusty, patch covered denim vests. Eighties metal never died, it just moved to Ireland... and Stereo Nasty is poised to resurrect it, just like those pesky undead slashers and zombies, in a big way with Twisting the Blade. Nice work, fellas. The next pint is on me!
"Reflections of Madness"
Stereo Nasty Discography
- Nasty By Nature - Stormspell, 2015
- Twisting the Blade - Stormspell, 2017
© 2017 Keith Abt