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Ross The Boss - "Hailstorm" (CD)

Ross The Boss - "Hailstorm" CD cover image

"Hailstorm" track listing:

1. I.A.G. (1:15)
2. Kingdom Arise (4:57)
3. Dead Man's Curve (3:33)
4. Hailstorm (3:52)
5. Burn Alive (4:11)
6. Crom (3:29)
7. Behold The Kingdom (5:28)
8. Great Gods Glorious (3:16)
9. Shining Path (4:36)
10. Among The Ruins (4:30)
11. Empire's Anthem (6:18)

Reviewed by on November 22, 2010

"'I took a chance and decided that though this album is a bit disjointed and has little in common with Manowar, it's not a bad listen for fans of classic metal.'"

Ross Friedman became "The Boss" when he pioneered Manowar in the 80's – one of those bands I was never particularly fond of because they were what I call guy metal: heavy riffs, less than melodic vocals, and no frills. Still, as someone who tooled around with the guitar in my youth, I had to give credit where it was due, and Ross The Boss has always deserved credit for his handling of the strings. So when I had the opportunity to hear his latest project, "Hailstorm," I took a chance and decided that though this album is a bit disjointed and has little in common with Manowar, it's not a bad listen for fans of classic metal.

The intro track "I.A.G." and its follow-up "Kingdom Arise" delve into Manowar territory with galloping tempos and a warrior feel. But the vocals offered up by Patrick Fuchs prevent these songs from sounding too familiar to Manowar fans. In fact I kept trying to figure out who his voice reminded me of, and it wasn’t until several days later it dawned on me that Fuchs could be a great cover artist for Kai Hansen. And it's more than just his vocals that lend a Gamma Ray feel to "Hailstorm." There are plenty of definite power metal tunes sprinkled throughout, the best of which is probably "Great Gods Glorious," where Ross The Boss really shows why he's earned his nickname.

Other notable tracks are "Crom," which starts out with a slow, pulsing bluesy tempo but abruptly shifts into pure warrior metal territory. There are some nice shreds too, but even at only 3 ½ minutes, it seems like the song's a bit too long. Then there's "Among The Ruins," the only ballad-ish track. It avoids the pitfalls of a glam ballad, but it's still got the combination of a slow piano mixed with a killer breakdown heavy on the shred. This track could actually get radio play.

While most of the songs are easily listenable, the problem is they're all so reminiscent of the past that most of them remind you of and even imitate other classic songs. It's easy to pick out the tempo of "Immigrant Song" in "Kingdom Arise," and "Dead Man's Curve" sounds very much like a mid-80's Scorpions tune, cheesy lyrics included. "Burn Alive" reminded me of Motley Crue circa "Shout At The Devil" days, and the intro of "Empire's Anthem" sounded suspiciously similar to "Stairway To Heaven."

Not that I have a problem with any of those sounds, but it leaves you with the feeling that Ross The Boss didn't really have anything original for this album. It also reiterates the point that "Hailstorm" doesn't seem to have a theme, or even a specific audience it targets.

Overall "Hailstorm" wins because the music is solid, the guitar performance is impressive, and the tracks are easy to listen to, but it's not a memorable album by any means, and it does nothing to add to Ross' reputation.

Highs: Easy to listen to classic feel that highlights the best of the genre.

Lows: Several songs emulate classics a bit too much and sound like something you already know.

Bottom line: A decent, if disjointed compilation of classic metal sounds, the highlight of which is still Ross The Boss' guitar work.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)