by Derric Miller
– Managing Editor —
Just listen to the opening scream from Sean Peck (Cage) on Death Dealer’s ode to themselves “Death Dealer” from their new album War Master and explain to someone how he isn’t one of the biggest names in metal? He’s the next generation Rob Halford. Put him on the same team as Rhino and Ross the Boss, and the prolific and talented guitarist/songwriter Stu Marshall (Dungeon, Empires of Eden) along with the wanted man/bassist Mike Davis (Lizzy Borden, Halford) … exactly what the hell can you expect except bigger-than-life METAL? It’s even bigger than that, once you give it a listen.
Listening to the opening song “Death Dealer” is like drinking barbed wire covered in ghost chili extract, or it will feel like that if you try to nail those otherworldly notes Peck screams at you. Rhino’s drumming is barbaric, the riffing and leads are orchestrated cacophony, and everything is breakneck—in the first 20 seconds. Peck crescendos the lines in the chorus until he’s once again … “showing off” is too strong a word, but he’s singing in a style very few vocalists on earth can even attempt.
The title track “Warmaster” is one of the more majestic songs on the release, in parts. Death Dealer mixes Progressive/Thrash/Speed/Power Metal in a way that is complicated and yet makes perfect sense once you hear it. This is one of those songs, with pomp at some passages and then sheer Thrash Metal riffing, like Slayer, in other sections. If you listen to this song too much, you’ll never have less than a five o’clock shadow on your face — you’ll become too manly. (Yes, you too, ladies.)
By the time you land on “Children of Flames” you receive a welcome reprieve. Plus, ADD would set in if their only speed was “faster,” so letting the music breathe in the airy start to “Children of Flames” is necessary. Peck sings in a haunting style, lower, and in some places with a pitch-perfect falsetto before swelling to mammoth vocals on the chorus, only to slide back to a softer delivery. It’s something akin to Metal Church’s classic “Watch the Children Prey,” and not because they both have the word “children” in it. It’s a compelling composition and one of the most memorable on the release.
For pure fun, “Hammer Down” is the one you’ll go back to over and over. This is in a more Manowar style, at least during the chorus, memorably simple and forcing you to sing with the gents as soon as you hear the chorus. “Bring the hammer down! Bring the hammer down. Hammer down … bring the hammer down!” That’s it, and you can yell along instantly.
It all comes full circle with “Wraiths on the Wind,” and you’ll hear Davis’ bass expertise immediately, as he drives the song with his adept. As one of the “slower” (grain of salt taken) tracks, it races along at a Power Metal speed, and instead of the blazing leads you’ll hear more thick, razor riffs, except for the solo which is molten lead.
Other killer songs include “Curse of the Heretic” and “Liberty or Death.” There’s simply not a subpar song on the album.
Death Dealer owns all of the necessary components to succeed. They have name recognition, talent, songwriting ability and a collectively magnetic live stage presence. They do not consider themselves a one-off project but a band, or as Marshall puts it, “This is a long-term vision.” Next time around the guys might want to create a couple more songs like “Children of Flames,” but if their debut idea was to create audial aggression and annihilation, they succeeded twice.
Genre: Classic, Power, Manly Metal
Sean Peck – Vocals
Stu Marshall – Guitars
Ross the Boss – Guitars
Rhino – Drums
Mike Davis — Bass
1 Death Dealer
2 Never to Kneel
4 Children of Flames
5 Curse of the Heretic
6 Hammer Down
7 The Devil’s Mile
8 Liberty or death
9 Heads Spikes Walls
10 Wraiths on the Wind
Label: Steel Cartel Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.6/10