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Coltre – Under The Influence

Under The Influence
by Kenn Staub at 24 July 2020, 4:19 PM

Formed in May 2019, COLTRE counts among its influences MAIDEN, PRIEST, DIAMOND HEAD, PRAYING MANTIS, ANGEL WITCH, and MERCYFUL FATE. Listening to the reissue of the band’s aptly named first album, “Under The Influence,” one can certainly hear those “influences” underlying this contemporary take on NWOBHM-era music. And yes, though the band formed just a little over a year ago, this is technically a reissue, as “Under The Influence” was originally self-released in February 2020 (available on COLTRE has since signed with Dying Victims Productions and will be rereleasing “Under The Influence,” this time with an additional track entitled “Fight,” on that label at the end of July.

Coltre means “blanket” in Italian and that is exactly what the listener is treated to on “Under The Influence,” a blanket of rhythmic, guitar-driven classic metal. Listed as a three piece (the name of a drummer does not appear on the band’s roster), COLTRE proves that less truly can be more. The tunes are richly layered, with Max Schreck’s bass and Marco Stamigna’s guitar laying down a melodic foundation upon which lead guitarist Daniel Sweed alternatively plays along with and on top of. Indeed, Sweed is given several opportunities to take flight, but his solos never fly so far afield that the listener loses the drift of what the band is doing as a whole. The songs, given life by Stamigna’s echoey vocals, tell stories like much of the NWOBHM’s more traditional canon, coming complete with catchy choruses that one just might find him or herself singing (or at the least, humming) along with.

The album opens with “Lambs To The Slaughter,” done in a style listeners of NWOBHM will instantly recognize. That is, a guitar intro anchored by drums, with the lead playing over top. From there the tempo picks up, effortlessly driven forward into the meat of the song with a refrain played by tandem guitars and thundering percussion. Sweed takes off with a nice “old school” string bending solo, establishing himself as a man with some chops, before the song settles down for its conclusion.

Crimson Killer,” COLTRE’s first public offering off the self-release, comes next. Stamigna’s opening scream gets the listener’s attention right from the start, priming one’s ear for what evolves into fast paced tune that has elements of groove metal interwoven with its NWOBHM sensibilities.

The added track, “Fight,” is nestled at the midpoint of “Under The Influence.” This song has a lighter feel than the previous two tracks, ringing with a catchy, melodic clarity that makes the song easily ready for consumption. Stamigna’s vocals take center stage, with the group harmonizing along nicely. The simplicity of the chorus serves as a hook, begging to be sung along with. “Don’t you ever surrender, Fly through the pain. Don’t you ever surrender, Breaking the chains.”

The eerily prescient “Plague Doctor” is the NWOBHM jewel of this album. Clocking in at a shade under 10 minutes, the song takes the listener on a journey of despair. Starting with a somber but galloping guitar intro, the tempo slows a bit over the second half of the song, becoming gloomier in tone as the band/plague gradually pulls the listener under, complete with echoing cries of anguish. Despite the song’s overriding sense of gloom, the chorus, like that of many NWOBHM epics, is catchy.

“I am the plague doctor, Come to make you well. I am the plague doctor, I hope you’re keeping well. I am the plague doctor, I bring you death. I am the plague doctor, Prepare to take your last breath.”

Under the Influence” concludes with the instrumental “On The Edge Of The Abyss.” This is a classic “guitar song,” structured so that lead weaves in and out of the rhythm guitar’s melodic refrain, soaring at times but always coming back. Like several other songs on this album, it’s catchy and lends itself to getting stuck in one’s head.

In all, COLTRE has produced a nice homage to the NWOBHM while retaining an individual identify. I liked the album on my first listening and have grown fonder of it with each playing, finding something different that catches my attention (or ear) each time. Those looking for a new act that remains true to the tradition of the NWOBHM should plan on adding “Under The Influence” to their playlists.

Musicianship: 9
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Lambs To The Slaugher (7:30)
2. Crimson Killer (4:32)
3. Fight (5:58)
3. Plague Doctor (9:24)
5. On The Edge Of The Abyss (5:54)
Daniel Sweed – Lead Guitar & Background Vocal
Marco Stamigna – Rhythm Guitar & Lead Vocal
Max Schreck – Bass Guitar & Background Vocal
Record Label: Dying Victims Productions


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