|Review: Ross The Boss - By Blood Sworn|
|By Blood Sworn|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2018
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: April 20, 2018
Reviewed by: MetalMike
for:By Blood Sworn
Former Manowar/Dictators guitarist Ross "the Boss" Friedman is back with By Blood Sworn, the third album from his eponymous band. This effort finds Ross surrounding himself with a new group of musicians including vocalist Marc Lopes (Let Us Prey, ex-Meliah Rage), bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X and a shitload of other bands) and drummer Lance Barnewold (replaced by Steve Bolognese after the album's completion). With this lineup, Ross has found the necessary talent to tour the world playing a set of classic Manowar tunes the way they were meant to be heard. Lopes can hit every high note Eric Adams ever did and LePond is one of the few bassists that can replicate Joey DiMaio's frenetic playing. Yeah, but what about this new album?
Honestly, I was expecting a Manowar-inspired effort and, to be fair, Ross' riffs on several tracks bring back the glory days of Hail to England and Battle Hymns but the other musicians have brought a modern sensibility to the songs. The songwriting has a decidedly thrashy streak and while Lopes can sing the highs, his mid-range is not the mellow baritone of Adams, more a Steve "Zetro" Souza sneer. It took me a few spins to get past my Manowar expectations but once I did, I was throwing the horns up for crushers like "This Is Vengeance," "Fistful of Hate" and my favorite track "Play Among the Godz", all of which rumble along with power and might. While there are many highs, there are also a few lows like the ballad "Faith of the Fallen" which has a weak chorus and the songs that follow, "Devil's Day" and "Lilith," which just aren't as entertaining as the rest of the album. I'll take the seven killer songs any day, though.
If, like me, you are looking for classic Manowar, be warned that By Blood Sworn is not that. If modern, thrashy heavy metal with a healthy dose of Manowar sounds good though, break out the air guitar and get ready to let the sign of the hammer be your guide.
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