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Faithful Breath - Skol

Faithful Breath
Skol
by Mark Machlay at 23 February 2021, 6:58 AM

German band FAITHFUL BREATH had quite a metamorphosis since their inception in Bochum in 1967. Two members of THE MAGIC POWERHeinz Mikus on vocals and guitar and Horst Stabenov on bass – wanted to go off and form their own band, starting out as progressive rock. They were soon joined by Reinhold Immig and Walter Scheuer on guitar and Jurgen Fischer on drums. The early years were a bit tumultuous as evidenced by the band name actually coming from George Grebe who filled in on bass early on with a saxophonist and flutist even joining for a short time. It wasn’t until 1974 that the band would finally release their first full-length “Fading Beauty”. But the band would continually be in a stylistic transition by 1980’s “Back on My Hill” – adopting a heavier sound – and by “Rock Lions” in 1981, would shed all progressive rock tendencies in favor of being a full on THIN LIZZY-style hard rock act. The band lost Immig and Fischer before their first album, went through several drummers – at least two named Jurgen, gained and lost a keyboard player before their harder edge kicked in, and several other members changes with only Mikus remaining as the soul original member throughout their time.

Established now in their harder edge – moving even further into more heavy metal sound ala ACCEPT, the band released a pair of albums – “Hard Breath” in 1983 and “Gold ‘n’ Glory” in 1984 – reaching the peak of their commercial success. Finally reaching what would be the most stable lineup the band released “Skol” in 1985, now being remastered and re-released for a new generation to enjoy. This album would be a monumental one for the band, with the group finally deciding they had changed their sound so much as to be unrecognizable and decided to change their name to RISK to avoid confusion. “Skol” is widely considered to be a decent album but even the band agrees that it was not on par with its direct predecessor. In addition to the unavailability of previous produce Michael Wagener, longtime original member Mikus explains “we had problems within the band. Our second guitarist…wanted to leave. He had received a tempting offer from another band.” The band had adopted a “Viking” image and the cover art of “Skol” fit their aesthetic depicting a lone Viking seemingly cheering out at the audience from an ornate iron chair.

Personally, unless a band decides to remaster an album, I see little point in re-releasing old 80s albums today as many young metal audiences would consider them unlistenable. Thankfully, High Roller Records was able to get Patrick W. Engel to remaster “Skol” for its release earlier this year and it is highly welcomed. “Skol” proves to be a decent hard and heavy 80s album much like THE SCORPIONS and JUDAS PRIEST in style. The faster, more metallic tunes such as “Double Dealer”, “Backstreet Heroes” and “Inside Out” aren’t exactly original sounding but they got me suitably head-banging. There is the obligatory power ballad in “We Want You” with all the generic and clichéd parts as possible but its thankfully listenable thanks to new production. But in all honesty, if you want a little Viking Metal that isn’t quite as hackneyed, stick with their previous record “Gold ‘n’ Glory”, as it’s a little more interesting, even if it’s just as clichéd.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 4
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Start It Up
2. Double Dealer
3. Lady M.
4. Rock Rebels
5. We Want You
6. Inside Out
7. Crazy in Metal
8. Backstreet Heros
9. Skol
Lineup:
Heinz “Heimi” Mikus – Vocals & Guitars
Thilo Hermann – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Peter Dell – Bass & Backing Vocals
Jurgen Dusterloh – Drums & Backing Vocals
Record Label: High Roller Records
     


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