Thursday, May 26, 2011


Listenable Records

There must be something about Sweden that it keeps rolling out old school metal acts. Hailing from Gothenburg, Katana (named for a type of Japanese sword often referred to as "samurai sword") released their first EP, Heart Of Tokyo in 2006. Heads Will Roll is their full-length debut. Said to be influenced by British and German bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Accept the band are another act looking to bring back the sound and spirit of "true" metal. As the one person here at Heavy Metal Time Machine that is heavily into 80's metal (as well as NWOBHM) Mark thought this one would be right up my alley. Taking one look at the band and I knew right away this was going to be fun. With a female bass player who looks like that how could you go wrong? Between the leather and spikes just look at those clothes!

Decked out in clothes that look like they were torn straight from the 80s (even if that jacket reminded me of Kevin DuBrow) Katana offer up a throw back album sure to please those who liked their metal loud and proud! Even the name seems to be a knowing nod towards NWOBHM acts Samurai and Tokyo Blade. If it wasn't obvious at first take with their name that these four guys (and one girl) were into life lived in the far east the songs like "Heart of Tokyo" and "Asia in Sight" should clear up any doubt. I'm getting ahead of myself though as opener "Livin' Without Fear" is pure Iron Maiden worship at it's finest. "Blade of Katana" (another wink towards their love of Japan) offers up a can of 80s metal madness that reminds one of a day and age surely missed. While the Iron Maiden influence is obvious (as well as Judas Priest and Accept on the excellent track "Rebel Ride") I thought I caught a glimpse of Riot and the Scorpions in their sound. "Phoenix on Fire" has such a mesmerising chorus you would think it was a long lost NWOBHM cut dusted off and revamped. "Neverending World" is another track that seems ripped out of time. "Across The Stars" perhaps was the one number that brought to mind U.S. metal while the album's last number "Quest for Hades" is an epic number wrapped up in Iron Maiden imagery. If I had to choose one flaw it would be vocalist Johan Bernspång. Let me be clear Johan is a top notch singer no doubt. He reminds one of Andy Mück (of Stormwitch fame-another clear influence) although not as consistent. There were just a few moments here and there where he sounded like he didn't match up with the music. Maybe it was something lost in production (which is stellar by the way) but once or twice his voice sounded off. Nothing I couldn't live with. I suppose also there is one other downside to bands like this. Katana needs to carve more of their own identity. Drawing from your influences is fine and all if you make the music your own. There are moments on Heads Will Roll when it seem fairly obvious that these songs were just re-worked from their heroes. With time though Katana will knock out more of a well rounded style of their own you can tell. Enforcer has and so can Katana. Either way this is a refreshing blast from the past that true metal fans should check out.


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