The debut album by these London-based metal hoodlums echoes the debut Iron Maiden album with moments of instrumentation which is comparable to prime cuts of Motörhead. Is this a good thing? Naturally if you’re rather partial to the resurgence of another NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) which was in prominence relatively briefly in the very late 70s and early 80s, you’d agree that it is a positive development.
The quintet which is made up of Jamie Elton on lead vocals, guitarists Heathen Steven and Nippy Blackford, Bill Dozer on bass and Dave Sherwood drumming his heart out do a great job mostly on the 13 tracks included here. The only concern you may have regards Elton who sounds like he’s struggling during moments throughout the proceedings. Considering that this form of metal is known for pure passion, the seemingly straining Elton may be forgiven as his energy and commitment are worth more than the performance.
What should also be acknowledged is generally how a debut album tends to be strong due to the band having more time to devote to the music. The band is in the throes of building their profile which can on occasion take many years, in which time they can indulge in the luxury of time to carve out top quality songs.
Why do they then decide to stick an instrumental on the album called The Flight followed by another atmospheric instrumental piece called Talisman? The compositions don’t do much to share virtuosity or an astounding melody. It merely acts as a rest bite or if you were to imagine listening to The First on vinyl, maybe this is the beginning of the second side? Alas, according to the promotional information this album will be made available in the U.S. as a digital version only.
Most of the material here is short and suitably fierce with one example bringing to mind the punk band Adolescents UK, when during their track Mark of Evil you find yourself feeling it resembles the former band’s I Hate Children. On the other hand, tracks like the album-closer Nightmare and third track The Gauntlet both demand more from the band and listener as they adopt several changes and hint at progressive elements.
All in all, if the album was shorter in length with a couple of the tracks taken out of the equation, maybe moved Talisman to the beginning of the album too as it would have made a great album-opener, then The First would have been a stronger piece of work. Maybe not worth grabbing the old leather jacket and scruffy denim just yet, as this band show potential but haven’t really nailed it with this debut album. Plenty of time for a better shaped album and less wastage to follow, after all it is The First.