Combining the talents of members from several bands on Chicago’s underground metal scene such as Satan’s Hallow, Moros Nyx and Tiger Fight, this new beast under the moniker of Professor Emeritus has finally dropped their debut album, “Take Me To The Gallows”. Theirs is a take on traditional, classic heavy metal elements; an oft used formula and effective in the right hands so it’s time for some riff worship.
Shades of early 80’s Iron Maiden are found on “Burning Grave” with its’ satisfying rawness. The vocals are the central, attention grabbing element straight away. M.P. Papai mixes a Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford high end energy with a Ronnie James Dio snarl – a combination that immediately reminds one of Tim “Ripper” Owens own delivery. Very early on this forms part of a central theme; a feel of imitation lies quite heavily on many levels. The sorrowful vocals over Dio era Black Sabbath styled riffs are indeed classic sounds. Mixed with moments of Thin Lizzy infused guitar harmonies on “Chaos Bearer, it’s an old school hard rock and metal connoisseur’s delight but on a path well worn. The sombre “Take Me To The Gallows” provides the melodrama, again leaning on the Maiden story telling style with a daring, “Holy Diver” steeped darkness. The predictable lengthy closer of “Decius” is a highlight with some of the tastiest riffs despite feeling a little cliched. The sense of classic heavy-metal-by-numbers weighs a little however giving it a sort of Jack Black shtick. A live setting might add some more bite and get the juices flowing.
“Take Me To The Gallows” is a reasonably solid album full of hooky riffs and dominant vocals which, although feel well used are undeniably powerful. Anyone with a love of traditional heavy metal will get a kick out of it but the lack of a little of Professor Emeritus’ own DNA might not leave this in the memory for too long. Should some of that DNA come through on future releases, there could be some potency behind this band. Time will tell.
(6/10 Johnny Zed)