What a weird coincidence…or is it? Given this album to review I stuck it in the media player on my computer and having ‘found the info’ on the internet, the player entered the album info automatically…with a release date of 1983! The weird thing is…it’s only the slightly crisper, more dynamic production that would have made me even question that this was an unearthed hidden gem from that very year. Well, other than the fact that if a band had released something this comparatively competent back then it would not have stayed hidden for this long!
The fact that Fatal Curse are American isn’t immediately obvious, which is a testament to the vibe the band are going for! Opener ‘Breaking The Trance’ sets the scene for a sound firmly rooted in NWOBHM…but not the type employed by the usual candidates. Fatal Curse remind me much more of Savage, Raven, Tank, Tokyo Blade and Battleaxe than the more popular Iron Maiden/Diamond Head directions that other retro-metal protagonists strive for and this makes for a much more interesting listen on the whole.
But this is just the basis for the band’s direction, because due to them being actually American, they have soaked up some State-side early 80’s Metal influence too, like Omen, Liege Lord, Obsession, Shok Paris and early Helstar. This is generally displayed by the speed-metal urgency to many of the tracks, that really works (as it would) with the NWOBHM Raven/Battleaxe/Tokyo Blade approach that the band implement so well. Though always delivered with utter commitment, the vocals are sometimes quite unrefined and slightly loose during quicker tracks like ‘Can’t Stop The Thunder’ and ‘Blade In The Dark’, but that’s absolutely fine because it also captures that NWOBHM spirit perfectly. The fabulous lead guitar breaks and tight-as-needed rhythm section are all excellent, representing every element of the band perfectly.
As old farts (and obviously an increasing amount of younger fartlets) tend to do, this album inspired me to yet again revisit my dusty old vinyl from the day (not that I ever really need an excuse…), which I then realized was another positive for Fatal Curse. Usually when I review a retro-metal band the influences are quite immediate, but Fatal Curse are slightly more adventurous and obscure, which really had me doubting who I was comparing them to until I heard the originals once more to make sure…which also made me realize how faithful Fatal Curse are to these Metal roots. Top job guys, both musically and in presentation. A nice touch keeping the album to a shorter length (also reminiscent of the era) and with a record company emulating it in the asking price.
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)