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Stuka Squadron - "Tales Of The Ost" (CD)

Stuka Squadron - "Tales Of The Ost" CD cover image

"Tales Of The Ost" track listing:

1. Into The Breach
2. Tales Of The Ost
3. The Last Resort
4. Stuka Squadron
5. A Cross Of Iron
6. On The Volga Bridge
7. Tiger I
8. The Fall
9. Lovecraft
10. Zabulon's Inferno
11. Lord Of Valhalla
12. One Eyed God King
13. We Drink Blood

Reviewed by on November 9, 2011

"The songs are epic, lengthy, and heavily reminiscent of early Iron Maiden (circa 'Number of the Beast' and 'Powerslave'), and are extremely enjoyable for fans of 80's metal who can look beyond the gimmick."

Gimmicks in metal are certainly not a new subject. Some work, some don't, but rarely do gimmicks do anything more than cover up bad musicianship with distracting "acting" or flashy costumes. Here, England's Stuka Squadron tries to fashion a gimmick that is way close to national socialism. However, it is even more perplexing because the band is quite good, which begs the question - why?

Musically, Stuka Squadron is a blend of traditional/power metal. They are talented musicians who lean heavily in the early Iron Maiden or Judas Priest direction. The songs are epic, lengthy, and heavily reminiscent of early Iron Maiden (circa "Number of the Beast" and "Powerslave"), and are extremely enjoyable for fans of 80's metal who can look beyond the gimmick. "Tales Of The Ost" sports some really catchy metal tracks like "Stuka Squadron," "On The Volga Bridge," "One Eyed King," and the instant classic "We Drink Blood." The dueling guitar work of Gravedigger Cox and Sir Graveghoul Terrorsound is impressive, as is James Duke Fang-Begley's vocal style.

Lyrically, the band predictably centers around Germany, World War II, and vampirism with no hint of national socialism, save for a reference in "Zabulon's Inferno" (Zabulon a/k/a Zebulun was regarded as one of the original founders of the Israelite confederation). "On The Volga Bridge" deals with Germany's advance in Russia, "Tiger I" about the German heavy tank, "Lovecraft" is self-explanatory, and "One Eyed God King" references the Norse god Odin.

By way of history, the real Stuka Squadrons were groups of German fighter pilots that dealt blows for Hitler's blitzkrieg campaigns during World War II. The band's "back story" has the members being linked to the Thule Society, a group that in reality required blood oaths from its members swearing they were a "pure race." Many link the group to the formation of the Nazi party, though most of the society's more notorious members associated with Hitler (Hermann Göring and Henrich Himler), had left the group prior to the formation of what would become the Third Reich.

Here, the quintet from the United Kingdom attempts to carve the band's history away from the national socialism element with band members posing as a Stuka Squadron made up of almost entirely vampires who worked for the Thule Society and who have been living other lives for generations after WWII before reforming as a music band. Naturally, they hate humans and drink blood. Fortunately, the band members do not take themselves seriously and are actually pretty humorous with the hefty sarcastic wit.

As a lover of traditional metal, this album has all the qualities of a classic. The musicianship is tight and the vocals are perfect for the genre. As an avid lover of history, the band comes dangerously close to national socialism, a very touchy and dangerous subject that may impede the group's progress as musicians. Some bands choose this path intentionally, but Stuka Squadron has made it clear that it has nothing to do with the movement or racism in general. It’s unfortunate that no matter what the band does, it will always live with that stigma, however, it’s all about the choices we make.

Highs: Well played traditional/classic metal a la Iron Maiden.

Lows: I would like the gimmick even more if the band was an R.A.F. squadron.

Bottom line: If only the Stuka Squadron members were R.A.F. vampires...but at least the album is really good!

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)