Label: Iron Shield Records
Date: July 21st, 2023
I almost fell off my chair when I saw this in the inbox! One of the luckiest finds I’ve encountered in the past decade (at least), offers up a full length. I’ve discovered them with their previous release, a self-titled EP, and it has since become a landmark of traditional heavy metal in my stereo. Such was the power emanating from it, especially condensed into less than half an hour of thunderbolting classic 1980’s metal. It was like an enemy’s skull full of ice-cold brew on a hot day of total victory on a field of battle!
Okay, admittedly, the sixth episode of this saga started off a bit weird. I mean, just look at the title. I have never listened to Babymetal, but I imagine their albums being titled like this. As much as there is that Blackmore’s legacy, I still find rainbows hardly inspirational for a heavy hitter such as Antioch.
The situation is much more hopeful with the obvious nod towards Dio (or Rainbow for that matter) on the front cover. It screams early heavy metal so loud… Coloring pattern, the claws ripping it apart, along with the aliens atop the moon. Doesn’t get much more metal than that!
Unless it’s in the form of music. And that’s where Antioch should be shining the brightest! However, I’m left a bit disappointed here. As if the above mentioned condensed power has been spread too wide on these forty minutes. Sure enough, the boys haven’t forgotten how to build perfectly catchy tracks. As exemplified by the title track, for best reference. On the same scale, you can find the opener, “Defiler”. Because the Canadians know they need a strong punch to start a fight. Then there’s “Lucifer in Chains”, a mid-tempo hammer upon the anvil that is your banging head. I’ll even go so far as to count “Hold My Heart” as one of those. It’s an almost power-ballad that owes so much to the depths of vocal work which almost downs the song all the way to gothic rock drawers.
Unfortunately, there’s the remainder of the record which just doesn’t hold up to the standards Antioch has set two years ago. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are bands that would kill for just a slice of Antioch’s capability of using the tried and tested tools in such a way so as to sound extremely fresh. Sadly, those bands often misuse these means in order to milk the retro cow. In my book, they aren’t even good enough to polish the steel Antioch discards as useless. So, you can imagine what I expect of these Canadians.
I want them to gallop towards the speed of lightning, reaping a harvest of foes’ heads! Whether in the footsteps of Maiden, Priest, Manowar, Grave Digger, Cirith Ungol, Running Wild… They’ve made such an impact with the previous EP that having only half of the album on that same level is not good enough for me. By the way, “VI: Molten Rainbow” is still a much better record than any of the mentioned legends have published in decades. It’s just that Antioch can do better. I know they can! Is it necessary to keep pushing EPs instead of full lengths to keep the Himalayan heights of creativity? If so, please do so! Do not disappoint me further.
In other news, for any old school heavy metal enthusiast, if you’re seeking for a supplement to your worn-out 1980’s records, this is still an awesome album!