Female fronted Metal bands in the UK used to be a rarity but now they're popping up all over the place! Zoltar Speaks come from the depths of Somerset and released a well received debut EP last year and are now about to release this full length debut album.
It's clear from the outset that this is an out and out Metal band. While they may have an excellent female singer in Louise Body who can sing and scream to order the sound is really based around the twin guitar attack of Jason Coles and Ollie Smith. The album is chock full of Slayer and Megadeth style riffing along with lots of little twists and turns giving it a sort of technical aspect.
This band are more ambitious than just going for straight ahead thrash so throw in lots of time changes, melodic solos and of course some memorable choruses from their front woman.
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Album opener 'See You In Another Life' sets their stall out admirably with it's stop start sections and some full on double bass drums fuelled fast parts vying with some catchy heavy riffing and Louise Body's powerful melodic vocal for your attention. Lots of interesting stuff is packed into this song and each play rewards you with a little more detail.
After such a strong start the songwriting is a little bit up and down and I'm not sure why they chose 'Last Man Standing' as the lead single as while it is not a bad song there are better tunes on here in my opinion. 'Cannot Be' for example has a really catchy Skunk Anansie-like chorus and a lovely lead guitar hook line while it still rocks like a motherfucker.
'Face The Claymore' is suitably epic sounding with loads of twine lead guitars and twin riffing too, there are some great riffs peppered throughout many of the songs here. 'Nothing In The World' features the band's frontwoman swapping vocal lines with an uncredited (on my copy at least) male in both growling and clean vocal styles and it works really well. Another nice chorus too.
The album falls down a little for me when they try to mellow out, 'Flesh And Blood' is a slightly perfunctory epic ballad and 'Braver' is a pretty little tune but struggles to stay in my memory. 'Treatment' works better though with it's slow start soon building into and epic Metal sound with some great soloing.
Verdict: This is a very impressive debut and an album which is growing on me the more I play it. The production lets the side down a little and the bottom end isn't punchy enough for me plus some of the lead guitar gets a bit lost in the mix at times. Add to that two or three songs which don't quite hit the same standards as the rest and a pint is removed from the rating.
However I would highly recommend this album to anyone who likes their Metal with melody, imagination and great riffs. I hope I get to check out Zoltar Speaks live sometime soon!
Louise Body - Vocals
Jason Coles - Guitars
Ollie Smith - Guitars
Ben Dean - Drums
Simon Roocroft - Bass