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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Halford

Made Of Metal

Review by Mike Korn

With the sad demise of Ronnie James Dio earlier in the year, nobody can argue that Rob Halford is truly the Metal God. His importance to the metal genre is so great that I automatically cut him a ton of slack on any project he does, including that oddball "Christmas" album he did last year. I think that in the case of Made of Metal, that slack makes the album a little easier to digest.

It's been quite some time since we've heard from the Halford solo band. Their last effort Crucible was simply of the best things Halford’s name has ever been attached to, so Made Of Metal had a lot to live up to. In all honesty, this new album isn't even close to touching its predecessor. It comes across as too long and too slick and it lacks the fury and passion behind Crucible. But still the album has its enjoyable tracks and while Halford's vocal performance is not at its apex here, it is never less than entertaining. Halford wrote a lot of these tunes himself, with no collaboration. Honestly, he needs the songwriting prowess of Tipton and Downing to be at his best, just as they need him to front Judas Priest.

And again, this is Rob Halford we're talking about, so I think his fans, of which I am one, are more than prepared to give him a break on Made of Metal.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Undisputed

A good straight up fast paced metal tune, this is a fine opener for the album, though not as heavy and vicious as we've heard from Halford previously. The lyrics seem to be written for some boxing or MMA fighter and I wonder if that's how the song is meant to be used. Frankly, only a singer of Halford's caliber can make this awkward chorus sound strong.

Fire and Ice
This is a scorching bit of speed metal that reminds me of past triumphs like "Freewheel Burning" and "Ram It Down.” The melodic chorus actually works very well with the snappy riffing and the guitar work from Roy Z and Metal Mike is outstanding. It's one of the very best tunes on the disc.
Made of Metal

The electronically distorted vocorder vocals on this one remind me uncomfortably of Turbo-era material. I wouldn't quite classify this with that poppy dreck, but this tune sounds trite to me and the main vocal hook is poor. Again, the lyrics sound like they were written for a NASCAR driver and are pretty embarrassing.

Speed of Sound
These early songs all seem pretty quick paced and this is no exception. It's an enjoyable enough song, but nothing out of the ordinary and it reminds me of a lot of prior Halford/Priest tunes.
Like There's No Tomorrow
A hard driving tune with a bit more melody than the preceding tracks, this benefits from a strong anthemic chorus and a pretty impassioned vocal performance from Halford.
Till The Day I Die
This is the first real deviation from the formula sound. It's real dirty sounding blues rock complete with twangy guitar. You can almost smell the diesel and road dust. The song starts subdued and then gets really heavy. There's a strong Black Label Society or even George Thorogood sound here, married with the typical Halford metal. This is a good break in the album and shows Halford's vocal range.
We Own The Night
Based on a hammering medium paced riff, this blends a little piano in. It's a bit of commercial, melodic metal, nothing spectacular but not without interest.
Heartless
This is quite different for Halford, a very sad, vaguely poppy sounding metal tune with a bleak feeling. It's based on very simple hooks but is strangely effective.
Hell Razor

I would have thought this would be something to blow off the doors based on the title, and I guess it tries, but it doesn't leave much of an impact on me. Halford's vocals are the more nasal, higher register kind he used on earlier Priest albums like Stained Class.

Thunder And Lightning
This is another really average melodic metal tune with a very commercial edge to it. I don't get the impression from this song that the musicians are doing anything more than filling space and killing time. Worse yet, it seems to drag on forever.
Twenty Five Years
Somber piano begins this melancholy ballad. I could have accepted this better if it had not come on the heels of two really sub-par songs, but instead it further kills the album's pace despite an impassioned vocal performance from Halford. Even so, the chorus is repeated too much for my taste.
Matador
The band again try something a little different with this track. As you might guess from the title, there's a strong Spanish influence to the song, which is a faster paced power metal type cut. The lyrics tell the story of (what else?) a bull-fighter - another sports themed song? Some parts are a bit awkward, but the cut grabs your interest and doesn't sound like something just to fill an album.
I Know We Stand a Chance
This is another tepid ballad that attempts a more modern style. Come on, nobody picks up a Halford album to hear this kind of stuff! This should have been left off the album, which is at least three songs too long!
The Mower
At least the record ends on a positive note with an aggressive and grinding metal song. The vocals are Rob Halford at his demonic and shrieking best, a shock compared to the more laidback style he uses on the rest of the album. Drummer Jarzombek excels with some powerful double bass and this almost sounds like it could be from a different band than the one that did "Twenty Five Years" and "I Know We Stand a Chance.” This is a top song on Made Of Metal, but would have seemed average on Crucible.
 
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