London’s Dethonator have been hard at work creating a follow up to 2013’s “Return To Damnation”. Full of tight knit blasts of classic era metal, they had laid their foundation and marked out their direction. New release, “Race Against The Sun: Part One” represents three years of creativity coming to fruition and finds the band further along their chosen path and in rather good form.

The immediate sense of the band’s passions come alive quickly on opening slice “When Lucifer Fell” which is drenched in classic heavy metal auras. The twin guitar intro and Scott Travis-like drumming blasts out of the blocks showing Dethonator carrying right on from their last effort. Tris Lineker’s clean vocals shine and there’s plenty of widdly lead guitar action to please the shredders out there as inner Tipton’s and Downing’s are released. This is pretty much custom made for fists raised in the air head banging. The early template is established, from the power metal fury of “Nightmare City” to the mournful Iron Maiden infused “Burial Ground” which breaks into a tight “Load” era Metallica groove. There’s a machine-like clinical precision that doesn’t manage to sacrifice warmth and full bodied beef. Moments of unbridled thrashiness pop out but melody is key in their songs. The galloping, heads-down pace of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest form a big part of Dethonator’s sound but a keen sense of their own style still manages to push through. The vocals are occasionally mixed between Tris’s clean battle cry and the bellowy growls of Adam Lineker which come in at just the right moment to give tracks like “Pyroclastic” a little more edge.

“The Hangman” offers a mid album turn starting as an acoustic, old Western film ballad that gently gathers pace before crunchy riffs kick in and serves to show the stylistic variance that is starting to develop in their songwriting. However, it’s the closing trio of tracks that finish this album off in style. The bare knuckled bruise of “Terror By Night” being a case in point with the brief growled vocal punctuation giving it an aura of menace. There’s a thoughtful structure to these songs with no sense of the haphazard and again gives rise to a sense of a developing maturity.

The Dethonator journey has continued in style. There’s no sense of sub-genre lingering over them and “Race Against The Sun” is really just about good old fashioned heavy metal on a lot of levels. More importantly there is the feel of a band that senses its own identity. Hopefully there won’t be another long wait until the next instalment of their story.

(7/10 Johnny Zed)