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Attila - Rolling Thunder

Attila
Rolling Thunder
by Chris Hawkins at 05 November 2018, 3:35 PM

This is not the Metalcore band!  ATTILA is a classic Metal band from the old school formed in 1983 out of the New York/Long Island area.  Thankfully, this release is available for the first time on CD now.  “Rolling Thunder” is ultimately a high-fidelity snapshot of 1986 in terms of the band’s relative heaviness and reflected in the Cold War anxiety-based lyrics.  By the time one makes it through the thirteen tracks contained within, it is beyond clear that this is a worthy addition to the library of Metal as this is a band that blends personality with hardcore aggression, melody with fury, and fluid instrumental talent with catchy vocals.

After the intro of “Defcon 1,” “Thermonuclear War” is the first full song.  My first impression of this band is that, in addition to the title, the main riff reminds me of CARNIVORE.  The vocals are completely different, though, with a tenor register and more classic/traditional Metal delivery.  A similarity in part could be simply due to being from the same general area.  It is the instrumental side of this band that sines as it pumps out double-fisted aggression with a medium-paced Thrash attack.

The title track follows and has a vibe closer to more traditional Heavy Metal.  It is a fitting track to include next as it offers this other side of the band.  Ultimately, things come full circle on the fourth track as the band covers ALICE COOPER’s “Schools Out”.  While never being a huge fan of that particular track, the band breathe new life into it making it their own.

The sixth track, “Tryst,” is striking, immediately grabbing one’s attention.  A riff is laid out by the bass guitar in both the first riff and throughout the entirety of the song.  The bass sound reminds me of the Jazz pickup in the bridge of my bass guitar.  It’s a mid-range intensive, snarling, growl that causes the bass to leap into the front of the mix.  The bass solo in the middle is tastefully adventurous as it too leads the song down a new melodic direction before they bring things around again to the earlier idea.  This is a singularly prolific piece of American Metal history.

After the peaks and valleys of the previous eight songs, the ninth track, “Turn Up the Power,” regains the aggression of the earlier part of the album and then increases the intensity.  The lead is short, melodic, and sweet, and it is killer to hear the bass ringing out chords underneath.  This is truly a lot of music for just three people.  The following track, “Urban Commandos,” maintains the onslaught, and from the perspective of raw, primal fury, “Lucifer’s Hammer,” the eleventh track definitely delivers.  Once again, the band sounds less traditional and much more indicative of the sound of Metal in the underground and certainly the mosh pit.

Any fan of classic Metal would find this to be a promising and worthwhile addition to their collection.  There is a lot of double bass throughout, but not in a blasting way.  It is more or less a constant tempo-setting pulse often minding me of a heavier version of the drums of W.A.S.P.’S “I Wanna Be Somebody”.  There are moments when ATTILA mirror the raw, epic feel of some of Blackie’s tunes, while others have an intensity likened to Thrash bands of the time like HELLOWEEN and SANCTUARY that injected a more melodic sense into the music.

Please do not mistake me for saying ATTILA was trying to sound like any of those bands.  I’m simply trying to suggest artists that create a somewhat similar vibe at times for me.  It is almost as if there is an underlying tug of war between the edgier side of the instruments and the catchier side of the vocals.  When one considers that this is from three people, it is even more impressive.

Rolling Thunder” is undoubtedly the band’s swan song.  After three years and previous demos, it was the band’s first and only full-length.  Yet again, one is overcome with the feeling of finding an old VHS tape or cassette and being enthralled by the Metal within.

While pondering the what ifs of ATTILA, I imagined them versus PANTERA of that period.  In light of that, what could the band have turned out to sound like if they had remained together working hard to pay their dues and then some.  It must be a double-edged sword when revisiting one’s artistic past, the difference between now and then in terms of world view, but to have been part of a band that put out one killer album is momentous.  Sadly, Vincent Paul, lead vocalist and bassist, passed away last year ending the possibility of the original band ever reuniting.  This is a worthy addition to your collection beyond being a place marker for 1986 for ATTILA have a unique, powerful sound that encapsulates so much of the raw spirit of Heavy Metal.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Defcon 1
2. Thermonuclear War
3. Rolling Thunder
4. Schools Out
5. Wild
6. Tryst
7. March of Kings
8. Chains Around Heaven
9. Turn Up the Power
10. Urban Commandos
11. Lucifer’s Hammer
12. Interceptor
13. Urban Commandos (Compilation Version)
Lineup:
A.T. Soldier- Drums, Backing Vocals
John DeLeon– Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals
Vincent Paul – Bass, Lead Vocals
Record Label: Heaven and Hell Records
     


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Edited 17 October 2021
 

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