Things I’ve always loved in music are shock, cheese and the utterly weird, from the early days of Alice Cooper and Arthur Brown to the easy listening Glam style of Sweet, Slade and Wizzard, two of which had cracking Christmas bangers to back up the cheese element. Like it or not it’s a good bit of fun and I think even the most basement dwelling Black Metal fan secretly enjoys a bit of a party, it’s all about balance, having fun and not taking life too seriously. Now I know I start to sound a little sickening but if you’re going to take anything away from this ramble then take this, don’t have guilty pleasures, embrace everything and enjoy whatever you like openly.
Taking influence from the early days of Shock Rock as well as Glam then blending them with Industrial, Doom and a whole host of other styles come the genre-bending and theatrical Death SS. Formed way back in 1977 the band even pre-date the likes of Mercyful Fate or Venom in terms of occultist themes. Though they never reached critical acclaim save for the Metal underground, making them somewhat unsung heroes if you will. They have gone on to split and reform numerous times with a whole host of line up changes, but now in 2019 they’re back with their ninth full length studio album Rock ‘N’ Roll Armageddon put out originally in 2018 through frontman Steve Sylvester’s label Lucifer Rising Records, but it has since been re-released via High Roller Records here in 2019 with the hope that Death SS will finally get the credit they deserve.
So to kick things off we have Black Soul, imagine Lordi, Accept and Saint Vitus had a baby somehow and then Rammstein came in at the last minute to add their seed to the gene pool, sounds like an abomination right? Wrong this is a wondrous genre-defying blend of traditional songwriting that you seldom see, catchy yet impossible to pinpoint. This is sure to be a winner with any fan of Classic Rock, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Shock Rock or even perhaps Black Metal given the strange occult nature of which this release purveys. The titular track then storms in to back up the prior statements with added Kiss styled flare in the lyrical content, vocals and guitars, a very Glam centric anthem that is sure to get stuck in your head. Just when you expect a let up in comes Hellish Knights another classic old school Metal tinged banger that is every bit as horror infused as its contemporaries.
Creature Of The Night and Madness Of Love give us a more traditional Gothic, Shock Rock vibe namely in the keyboards which truly come alive in these tracks. Just to throw more influences into the fire we are presented with Zombie Massacre which leans towards almost Horror Punk themes in its rough and ready guitars and vocal delivery. The Fourth Reich then brings us back to more Industrial Metal ideals, backed up with catchy bombastic Glam hooks that keep us screaming for more. As the album progresses thereon we reach The Glory Of The Hawk an acoustic affair, slow in pace and altogether as strange as the rest of the album yet not unbefitting and still dark, brooding and mysterious. Forever finally comes to give us one last slab of Glam laden Gothic fury with a natural progression from the prior track and one which rounds the album off perfectly.
First off I have a confession to make, when the albums were being put out for this week I displayed my interest in Death SS for one reason alone, I mistook their name for Death Strike, Paul Speckmann of Master’s other band. How you may ask, well of that I’m not sure but none the less I’m so glad I made that mistake. Despite having heard of Death SS in the past I’ve never really given them any time and Rock ‘N’ Roll Armageddon has wholeheartedly made a fan out of me. So many older bands flop with later material and to gain a new fan with a brand new album in my mind is something of an achievement, so whether you’re a seasoned fan or a newcomer like me give this a go you sure as hell won’t be disappointed.
(8/10 George Caley)