Monday, January 30, 2012

OZ-Burning Leather

AFM Records

With the release of their "Fire In The Brain" LP in 1983 and the 1984 follow-up EP, "Turn The Cross Upside", OZ managed to gain international fame with heavy metal fans. Before that this Scandinavian hard rock band was relatively unknown outside of their home country. Formed in 1977 the band's first album (Heavy Metal Heroes) was a decent enough (if nothing else) affair. It was decidedly more hard rock/generic heavy metal than anything else. Certainly not the serious slab of heavy metal thunder of their 1983 and 1984 releases. And yet despite the cult status of these two releases OZ remains a rather unknown band for today's metalheads. If you mention OZ then chances are people will think your talking about Mr. Sharon and not this hard and heavy leather bound group of metal maniacs. And since the last time they were seen was with 1991's "Roll The Dice" it almost seemed as if OZ might slip away without reclaiming some glory again. With "Burning Leather" though I doubt that will be a problem. The group didn't even need to add revamped and re-recorded versions of their classic tracks "Turn The Cross Upside Down" and "Fire In The Brain" to get the point across that they were back. I understand that they wanted to reintroduce themselves to today's audiences and all but the opening number "Dominator" (with it's kick down the doors take on heavy metal/thrash) does that good enough. It is certainly a "hey, how do you like getting your head thrashed?" kind of moment and from there on out things never slow down and OZ never looks back! This is one nice slab of heavy metal/thrash/power metal. If you've never had the pleasure of getting hit in the face by OZ the metal here is similar in nature to Accept, Metal Church and Painkiller era Judas Priest. Tracks like "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" are just nasty little tunes that recall traditional heavy metal acts like the above mentioned. "Seasons In the Darkness" is another great classic metal sounding number and the title track grabs you by the throat and never lets go. "Gambler" is a rolling number and at times OZ recalls the greats like Iron Maiden, Dio and Judas Priest. Vocalist Ape DeMartini sounds better than ever and cuts like "Enter Stadium" (with it's Kiss on steroids take on hard rock) just make "Burning Leather" one of those albums that just screams classic heavy metal. Really there isn't a bad cut to be found on this 11-track affair and from start to finish "Burning Leather" pulls you in with it's take no prisoners attitude. It's good to see a band like OZ get another chance to prove that classic metal is alive and well. Welcome back guys.


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