Here we are then; this is how it's done. No messing about, no gimmicks, no meandering into metallic sub genres and no pretentious guff. 'The Kings Of Bullet Alley' is a dose of good old-fashioned European heavy Metal that goes straight down the middle on route A1 and hits you square between the lugs. Once again, the Scandinavians are showing us how it should be done and giving folk a run for their money.
SoulHealer are Finnish and as ugly as fuck but with 'The Kings Of Bullet Alley', they have produced the best slice of Teutonic Metal I've heard in a long time without it actually being Teutonic.
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This is not, however, a straight lift because SoulHealer have managed to inject it with a bit of Finnish finesse that sets it a little apart from the herd. Some would argue that this is melodic Metal and, to be fair, it does get a little close but still manages to retain the hardness of a war-weary tank turret. The groove does not quite have the precise martial stomp of UDO or the metronomic kick of Accept and The Scorpions, but nor is it that far off either.
Killer tracks? 'Dirty Little Wars', 'Zoned Out', 'My Last Day', 'Heading For Tomorrow', 'Blind Faith' and 'Wheels Of Fire' all have some serious fire in their bellies, so take your pick.
Strangely, the weakest track on the album is the title track that kicks the proceedings off. Still, you can't have everything. For a debut album, 'The Kings Of Bullet Alley' is one hell of a lump with subtleties that do not detract from its Metal thrust. This is best illustrated by there being (mercifully) restrained use of shredding guitar solos.
What I like about this album is that it does not try to be something it isn't. The band have not tried to carbon copy their influences; it has taken a classic Metal sound and done its own thing with it, but still allowed the album to motor like a cat with a dynamo up its arse.
There are weaknesses: the vocals could be better, the production has saddled the album with a certain recorded-off-the-radio quality and some songs tarry a little too long, lacking the snappy 'wow' factor of classic debuts from the likes of Hardline, Montrose and Van Halen. These are minor issues, though, and overall 'The Kings Of Bullet Alley' shunts like a bastard, thus rendering it a near perfect tool for neighbour baiting. Get it.