Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Sultan-Check & Mate (Deluxe Edition)

Tribunal Records/Divebomb Records

I'm really got to hand it to the folks over at Tribunal Records. These guys sure know how to pick 'em when it comes to re-releasing classic and/or cult recordings. Case it point "Check & Mate" from Geneva's Sultan. Originally released in 1990 on Zar records (and containing classic heavy metal that fans of Fifth Angel, Leatherwolf and Riot should simply love!) this "one and done" LP was preceded by a 1986 vinyl single entitled "Rebel Fire" (included here as a bonus) and stands as a testament to the fact that far too many good bands simply never got their proper-due. Tracing their roots back to the mid-eighties (before disappearing around 1991) this Swish five-piece had one hell of a front-man in Dragi Majstorovic* whose voice was perfectly suited for the straight-ahead heavy metal gold that this lot provides on "Check & Mate". Stating the obvious here, but the sound** is superb as always (Tribunal Records and their division Divebomb Records really does wonders when it comes to re-mastering this long-lost gems!) while the songs (other then the slightly lame ballad "Mary") simply rock! Along with the original/long out of print album this re-release includes the aforementioned "Rebel Fire" single and what's interesting about the title cut there is (according to the Metal Archives) the fact that besides producing the number, Norbert "Nono" Krief (of Trust and Shakin' Street fame) plays the final guitar solo on the track! Pretty sweet right? But then again this whole re-release is simply sweet anyway! Taking their cues from not only traditional heavy metal (hence the references to the likes of Fifth Angel and Riot!), but also the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement (think along the lines of a more hard rock version of Saxon and/or a band like Salem) the band Sultan really should have done more, but it is what it is. Plagued by line-up changes early on and a every-changing music scene Sultan just couldn't keep it together. Thankfully labels like Tribunal Records/Divebomb Records remain diligent about their mission to provide solid re-releases. While I only have the digital version of this cool little rocker I can tell you that the CD version will come with an 8-page booklet including pictures and a interview with drummer/founding member Fabian Ranzoni! That would be the route that I would go when it comes to "Check & Mate" and, hopefully when I'm first able to do it(!), that is what I intend to do-add this bad boy to my personal CD collection! For fans of Fifth Angel, Leatherwolf and Riot (as well as other similar-sounding traditional heavy metal outfits) a release like "Check & Mate (Deluxe Edition)" should be welcomed with open arms and I'd feel like I was keeping this gem all to myself if I didn't recommend it!

*The 7" single "Rebel Fire" features vocals from one "Wils". 

** Per the promo material: "New mastering by Jamie King + Layout/Restoration by Adam Peterson (WATCHTOWER, EPIDEMIC and SOLSTICE)"

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