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Attika – Metal Lands

Metal Lands
by Kenn Staub at 28 March 2021, 5:10 PM

Metal Lands” represents a comeback for ATTIKA, whose touring and recording heyday came primarily in the mid-80s to mid-90s. The Melbourne, FL foursome last released an album in 1991, their second effort “When Heroes Fall.” Mining the vein of classic US metal, the band’s intent on “Metal Lands,” which dropped at the end of February, is to demonstrate, that despite the passage of 30 years, they can still make a massive and powerful statement. And in this ATTIKA have succeeded, as the album is a 50-minute compilation of authentic, old school metal.

Listening to the album it was obvious that ATTIKA is at peace with being a mature metal band, playing with a sincerity that comes with having been around the block a time or two. This effect is heightened by Robert Van War’s vocals, which lend the songs a gritty realness. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is their remake of JOHN STEWART’s 1979 hit “Gold.” Whereas the original had a glossiness to it, heightened by STEVIE NICK’s background vocals, ATTIKA’s version packs a more rough-edged, emotionally-laden punch. The track marches along, propelled by a strong bass backbeat; its cynicism more pronounced by Van War’s delivery than that of the STEWART-NICKS combo.

Van War’s vocals give the sense of somebody who is not afraid to express the emotion he has experienced. His timbre, rough around the edges, lends “One Wish” a degree of gravitas which the track might otherwise lack. This ballad transcends the stereotypical song of lost love, primarily because Van War gives the sense that he is singing from the perspective of somebody who clearly has had time to consider an opportunity missed. The vocal impact is heightened by Bill Krajewski’s spare acoustic intro, which transitions into a denser instrumentality. Likewise, “Darkness Of The Day,” a somber reflection on the attacks of 9/11, has the weight of somebody who watched the events unfold in real-time and has since thought about them at length. The vibrato of Krajewski’s guitar playing on the intro serving as a nice accent to this bleak, ponderous piece. Van War sings with the anger of experience when he speaks to the mistrust of a government which tries to dictate on “Sincerely Violent.” Displaying a thrash sensibility, the track benefits from Glenn Anthony’s bass line, which alternates with, and then underscores Krajewski’s guitar playing.

I would be remiss if this review spoke only of Van War’s vocal styling and neglected the instrumentation that make this album a true headbanger. Anthony and drummer Jeff Patelski are a solid rhythm section, providing an anchor for Krajewski’s guitar work. As can be expected with any example of classic metal, Krajewski is given ample opportunity to shine, sometimes playing two or three solo breaks in a song. That being noted, Anthony, Patelski, and Krajewski can and do unite as a tight combo to collectively bring the heavy.

The Price” is the perfect example of what I’ve tried to convey. All three instrumentalists combine to play in a point-counterpoint manner, cohesively changing tempos to accentuate Van War’s vocals. The musical transitions between the two different tempos are smooth, settling into a groove that had me involuntarily nodding my head. “8 Track Days” is a throwback headbanger, the track opening with a solid bass line, bursts of guitar and drum coming together to then play over top the pounding low end. Eventually Krajewski stretches his wings, laying down a solo that is all the better for Anthony’s and Patelski’s foundation.

In addition to predominately playing a methodical form of metal, ATTIKA can lay it down in a style akin to the speed and rhythm of thrash. I’ve already highlighted “Sincerely Violent” as an example, though this dimension of their playing is also heard on “Metal Lands,” “Like A Bullet” and “Thorn In My Side.” These tracks take off, racing at their beginnings before settling down into something more deliberate.

All the songs on “Metal Lands” demonstrate solid, headbanging melodies predicated on riffs that have staying power. Enhancing the overall affect is ATTIKA’s unabashedly classic blue collar sound; arising from an experiential realness that is allowed to come to the fore.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Metal Lands
2. 8 Track Days
3. Like A Bullet
4. Darkness Of The Day
5. The Price
6. Thorn In My Side
7. Run With The Horseman
8. Sincerely Violent
9. Gold
10. One Wish
Robert Van War – Vocals
Bill Krajewski – Guitars
Glenn Anthony – Bass
Jeff Patelski – Drums
Record Label: Pure Steel Records


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