David Shankle is most famous for being one of the axemen in the true metal warriors and most self-indulgent bands in the world… No, not Morrissey, I’m on about Manowar. Holding his hammer high between 1988 and 1994, Shankle is most known for replacing Ross Friedman and playing on Triumph of Steel before deciding to go his own way and form the David Shankle Group who are now on their 6th offering, “Still A Warrior”. Time to draw your swords and head into battle.
Title track “Still A Warrior” opens the album with a real ‘traditional’ heavy metal approach – it’s got a real rocking groove to it, its loud, has some powerful vocals and you can tell the Manowar influences right off the bat. It’s relatively simple in terms of structure, with all the riffs loosely related in structure or feel to the intro riff. The break before the solo has a real pounding groove to it and the solo round the 3:40 mark is textbook shredding whilst the final chorus of the track has gratuitous use of the double kick pedals on the drums. It’s an alright opener I guess. “Ressecution” starts off with some big riffs and subtle dramatic sounding synths backing them up to give a really big epic feel. The scathingly delivered yet clean lyrics stand out over the fast paced and intricate low register riffs of Shankle’s signature 7 string guitar whilst the rhythm section is tight, keeping it all locked in place. Much like the previous track, despite the complicated guitar work it’s relatively straight forwards in its approach, the main focus being the break before the chorus which relies on the synths to boost the feel before another shred solo kicks in, however this one seems to be lost in the mix as the rhythm overpowers it.
“Glimpse of Tomorrow” has a hard sounding intro with a groove laden pounding bass-line and like the other two tracks, this has a familiar feel to it structurally. The chorus though is different – it mostly revolves around a clean ringing arpeggio section which is then joined by some synths and powerful distorted rhythm guitars whilst the break leading to the solo has that typical short build up into another neo-classical shred-fest. The solo transitions well into the final chorus which makes for an alright ending but nothing spectacular. “Demonic Solo (From the movie Jezebell)” starts off with some dramatic synths and then descends into a cluster-fuck of self- indulgent wankery, think style, but shite. I love some shred, but this… Eesh! Thankfully, “Fuel For The Fire” gets us back on track. Fast paced and full of attitude, the track has a good feel too it. The pre-chorus is rather short but it serves its purpose well in linking to the chorus which does its job but isn’t that remarkable. Round the 2:12 mark there is a great shift into the break/pre-solo section and luckily for us, this solo is well placed. It comes at just the right time in the track and it has far less wankery involved in it compared to the previous track. The song isn’t that good as a whole, but the vocals are really great.
“Eye to Eye” starts off with a great groove feel – the drum work is tight and the main riff pattern is rather catchy with a real hook to it. The track has a real stomping feel and good rhythm to headbang to and the chorus revisits the catchy intro riff but with gratuitous double kick making it more effective. The transition from the chorus has a real powerful chugging rhythm and when the clean section comes in, the vocals really stand out. The solo is another shred styled one which actually shifts with the groove of the song so it isn’t as wild as some of the others, in all its one of the better tracks off the album. “The Hitman” is another instrumental, and sadly, this isn’t one of the better tracks. It’s just an 8-9 minute long instrumental which follows a very metal-by-numbers approach – ‘verse riff, lead melody, wankery, repeat till finish”. It sounds fun at first but the novelty soon wears off, in all, a big miss for this track! “Suffer In Silence (Agenda 21)” is better thankfully. It’s got a real powerful groove in the intro and the drumming makes it seem faster than it actually is. The vocals are strong much like they are on the rest of the album and the verse has some real punchy sounding guitar riffs but as you can probably guess, it’s got another shred-fest solo in it and a heavily drum-emphasised outro.. Seeing a pattern here?
“Into The Darkness” has the hard hitting intro – dramatic lead guitar wailing over some real thunderous bass and powerful drums which gives way to a heavy groove-laden verse with some subtle synths to give it an edge. Vocally strong, the track really excels in the verses but the chorus is rather lifeless in comparison to other tracks where the choruses really stand out. A rather dull solo features in this one, so much so that the rhythm overpowers it with a real head-bang feel groove to it before the song again ends with the chorus like every track has done so far on the album. “Across The Line” closes the album and its pretty much like the other tracks on it. It has a powerful intro, some great riffs and is rather fast paced but everything again seems to be geared around the solo which is more neo-classical shredding which detracts from the really powerful rhythm section. As usual, the final chorus which leads to the end of the song has more of a kick to it and vocally, it’s another great track.
Overall, “Still A Warrior” isn’t that good. It is very basic and predictable in the composition of the songs. The self-indulgent neo-classical shred wankery detracts from a lot of the superb work from the rhythm section and the vocalist’s talent and nothing majorly stands out as notable. This isn’t a modern day ‘true metal classic’, it’s just… meh.