Spartan Warrior - Hell To Pay

Spartan Warrior - Hell To Pay

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(CD, Pure Steel Records, 2018)

I go for the volume control by instinct when opener as well as title track of “Hell To Pay” get things going. It just needs to go up a bit. The stripped guitar and that riff which starts the song cuts through the speakers and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. The sound is raw, naked and unforgiving. Without the precision and the edge it is being delivered it would have been a mess. But it's perfection. The up-tempo track really lured me in to the record, I sure want more.

“Hell To Pay” is the band's fourth full length album since the start in the early '80s. And as many of these classic NWOBHM bands, SPARTAN WARRIOR have that great energy and hit a full-on here, just as many of their alike. SPARTAN WARRIOR really nail it with how NWOBHM should sound nowadays; they have the drive and the music holds finesse while still being raw. But most importantly is that the record is loaded with catchy melodies.

“Bad Attitude” confirms what's already stated and it sure works in mid-tempo as well. I keep thinking of MYTHRA, another fantastic band from the same genre for “Letting Go”, especially the vocal line. Dave Wilkinson has, just as Vince High does, a rather dry voice but when working with the melodies and dynamics like this it surely works. It gives a raw edge to the music and what's that not to like.

On occasion, SPARTAN WARRIOR sound crazy much like Blaze Bayley; classic riffs with a contemporary touch. The song-structure and phrasing of the vocal lines have resemblances with the former IRON MAIDEN vocalist’s solo-band. Listen to “Court Of Clowns” for example; the melancholic tone works well with the creative drums and edgy guitars. Mellow “Something To Believe In” adds one more dimension to the album. I love it when David hits those high notes which almost break. It's these small things, the raw and dirty little details that make the album feel vibrant and alive. The nerve in the music is phenomenal.

One of my favorites is the dark “Shadowland”; I love the changes from heavy to mellow and then, melodic to raw. And to make all of this flow the way they do here was what struck me seeing SPARTAN WARRIOR live also. Thinking about that, they have really captured the energy from the live shows on record as well. Next one up, “Covered In Lust” is another great example of the same. This though, is a more straightforward rocker. The parts and passages when the music is taken down a notch in intensity are awesome and as they are topped with one of the best vocal lines on the record it sure ends up at the top of my list. Actually, the ending of the album is great, fast and raw “Falling” hits all the right notes and I love the dissonance in the bridge. The finale in “In Memorium” sums things up in a very heavy way.

As a record, I think “Hell To Pay” is fantastic. The variation is great, there are hooks, bits and pieces that stick instantly. I think it is stronger as a whole though than the songs are individually. But I guess it's still all good when I want to play the entire thing over and over again and not just selected songs. “Hell To Pay” should absolutely be piled up with all the other old school NWOBHM bands who in recent years have released some of their strongest material. Crank it up!





01. Hell To Pay
02. Bad Attitude
03. Letting Go
04. Court Of Clowns
05. Something To Believe
06. Walls Fall Down
07. Shadowland
08. Covered In Lust
09. Fallen
10. In Memorium


Dave Wilkinson - Vocals
Neil Wilkinson - Guitar
Daniel Rochester - Guitar
Tim Morton - Bass
James Charlton - Drums