EXISTANCE | STEEL ALIVE | 2014

Review by Reverend Rock [04.15.14]

 

Existance Waves the Banner of Classic ‘80’s Metal with Flair and Panache

 

If your ears are yearning for a nostalgic return to the classic metal sounds of 1984/85 you could always pull out releases from Dokken, Ratt or W.A.S.P. On the other hand you could pick up a copy of Existance’s “Steel Alive”, due to be released April 25 on Mausoleum Records.

 

The band’s full length debut harkens to a different age and if you were around for the mid-80’s there’s lots here to evoke memories of that glorious time in metal.

 

 Comprised of 11 hard hitting tracks, the album from this French foursome pays homage to what some consider to be metal’s heyday, before things devolved into the hair metal of the late ‘80’s and certainly long before the unfortunate evolution of grunge that all but killed mainstream metal.

 

The disc opens with ‘Legends Never Die’, a track that builds from a Europe-like keyboard intro to an opening riff that is reminiscent of the 3 Inches of Blood tune, ‘Deadly Sinners’. To mention highlights from the album would be akin to simply providing a track listing. There is only one weak moment on the entire collection that being the tune, ‘Slaughter’ whose chorus takes a melodic turn that spoils an otherwise high-energy banger.

 

Examined with a technical ear the album has few, if any, flaws. The production is clean and crisp with great separation amongst the instruments. Guitarists Julian Izard and Antoine Poiret play admirably and the lead work is absolutely in keeping with their classic metal sound and recalls classic guitar dualists of the era. Izard also handles lead vocals, channeling the style of the well-travelled Jeff Scott Soto (Trans Siberian Orchestra) well. The rhythm section of Thomas Drouin on bass and Alexandre Revillon on drums carries the show with Drouin in particular showing some flair with tasty bass lines.

 

For those who are into obscure metal facts Julian Izard is the son of Didier Izard, vocalist for French speed metal pioneers H-Bomb who were active between ’83 and ’86. That fact in itself is kind of cool – the son now carries the torch for a genre that his father played a role in creating over 30 years ago.

 

While some listeners might be tempted to scorn Existance for being derivative and unoriginal a better choice would be to enjoy the ride back in time and give them kudos for recreating a sound that has been all but lost in mists of the ensuing 30 years of nit picking and genre spitting. If you’re a youngster who missed out on the original era, ‘Steel Alive’ is a great way to familiarize yourself with a brand of metal that is indeed, still alive.

 

Reverend Rock’s Rating: 85/100

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