So if I was to get all imaginary classroom here and ask hands up anyone who has heard NWOBHM legends Tank, there would be plenty of hands shoot up around that metaphorical room. None more so than the five enthusiastic German exchange students in Pulver T-Shirts at the back, suddenly finding something of interest in that day’s studies (and how much I would have loved to attend a real lesson like THAT back in the day…then maybe when I was a kid in geography class and the teacher asked “What is Barnsley best known for?”, rather than saying glass-making or coal mining, when I answered “Saxon” it wouldn’t have got so many blank looks! Anyhoo…crashing on…).
There are so many times on this debut full-length that I find myself thinking of Tank, both in the vocals and guitar style (especially on ‘Phantom Hawk’ and the title track in particular).The delivery is very similar and authentic, but there is plenty more on offer from Pulver’s sound…much of it British and from the early 8o’s granted…. Angel Witch are prominent in the slower, darker ‘Warrior Caste’, and there’s touches of Savage, early Motorhead, Holocaust…yes there are splashes of Maiden’s debut…and OK, maybe just a little early Accept in the music too (they are from Germany after all!). But mainly NWOBHM.
This is no plod through history though – Pulver have their own way of delivering their music that while it’s familiar, it’s never a total rip off! ‘Alpha Omega’ for instance is an almost self-indulgent instrumental power-trip through all that was great in the music of the time, executed faithfully and diligently, but with the band’s own stamp on things. Pulver tend to favour the more mid-tempo tracks (stopping short of the urgency of say, Raven for an era-faithful example) and the aforementioned title track is about as fast as it gets, but this might nicely draw in some retro-doom fans as well.
Pulver are who they are and they do it well. “Kings Under The Sand” is certainly not out to break any new musical ground – like quite a few releases at the moment it is happy to be “of a time” – A great time in Heavy Metal history no less, so as long as Pulver do such a great job they are on pretty safe ground. And I totally applaud that with a vocalist who is such an audible dead-ringer for Algy Ward, the band thought it best not fight fate, Tank were a great band, a decent place to base their sound and grow from there. This is the bands debut after all and yeah, we’ve heard it all before, but that’s the point really, we HAVE heard it all before, but not mixed together and performed the way that Pulver do, which makes it interesting and relevant.
(7/10 Andy Barker)