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Hounds - Warrior of Sun Award winner

Hounds
Warrior of Sun
by Neil Cook at 03 March 2020, 3:17 PM

HOUNDS, a relatively innocuous name for a rock band.  It feels like it’s missing and “of Hell” or “of Metal” or the like.  But it is enough.  As it says on their Facebook page “we are HOUNDS, and we will hunt you down”.  I don’t know if it is their inspiration, but I immediately think of the HOUNDS from the X-Men story “Days Of Future Past”. Mutant hunters from the future who relentlessly pursue their mutant prey. These guys do the same in pursuit of their music.

Formed in 2016 in Turin, Italy to play Heavy/Power Metal in the vein of SAVATAGE, RAINBOW, JUDAS PRIEST.  "Warrior Of Sun" is their first long player. The opening pair of the instrumental intro “Madness and Rage” and the title track “Warrior Of Sun” set the tone and direction for the album.  Powerful and dramatic, built on an almost classical score. Which carries on into in to “Condemned To Hell,” the organ intro leading into some great fretwork.  This has the perfect 80’s Power Metal feel, the vocals suiting the track, from the screams to the maniacal laughter, makes me believe were on our way to hell!

Beyond The Horizon,” is the sort mid paced rocker you would expect with this type of title.  The tempo of the keys and drums of the intro trick us a bit, but the drama of the song soon builds, and twists and turns in a Power Prog way, which adds to the melodrama. “The Chronogate” (which sounds like a straight to video Sci-Fi film from 1984), is essentially a keyboard solo workout/into the “City Hunter” (an early Shoot em up game?), which is as straight ahead rocker as we are going to get from HOUNDS. Shades of so many great 80’s Rock and Metal bands, its hard to pick out one.  The guitar is the focus of the song, complemented by the keys.  But I have to complement the production of this and the album in general, each instrument has its own clarity, within the layers of the production.

The Light,” is the album's “power ballad”, straight out of the 80’s Power Metal playbook, and is the only song I am not enamored with. Perhaps a little too generic, maybe to me the vocals are a little strained in places, but for this reviewer the weakest point on a strong album. Although there is some great twin guitar work towards the latter half of the song.  But it is all a little overblown and self indulgent and at eight and a half minuets long, could have probably done without the extended instrumental outro.

On the other hand “Hero’s Fate” is could not be more different, whilst similar at the same time. What I mean is, the song showcases every instrument, including the bass and voice, and could very easily teeter off into showing off for showing offs sake, but manages to not fall into the same traps as the previous track.  However it is still an over the top slice of cinematic proggy melodrama.  As is the last track “Unreal”.  There are some musical themes and symmetry to the songs on the album, which generally gives them a cohesion, a HOUNDS sound if you will, and none more so than this ending track.  This has the best guitar solo on the album.  I find it hard to pigeonhole their sound, because it sounds like so many different bands all at once, a blend of so many herbs and spices, creating a new familiar, yet different, tasty dish.

All in all a satisfying listen.  One slight misstep, which can be forgiven. Great production, fantastic vocals, and a nostalgic sound, without sounding dated. Listen and enjoy.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Madness and Rage
2. Warrior Of Sun
3. Condemned To Hell
4. Beyond The Horizon
5. The Chronogate
6. City Hunter
7. The Light
8. Hero’s Fate
9. Unreal
Lineup:
Massimo Ventura – Vocals/Guitar
Alessandro Zelferino - Guitar
Stefana Paparesta – Bass
Enrico Cariola – Drums
Marco Defabianis – Keyboard
Record Label: Punishment 18 Records
     


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Edited 03 July 2020
 

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